[This story was originally written for Crikey, where it was published on 12 January 2009. I’ve linked to it previously Here it is in full, along with a wonderful follow-up comment from a Telstra PR guy and my extremely snarky reply.]
Confused by Telstra’s rejected low-cal bid for the National Broadband Network? Let’s stir some new jargon into the stew: “DOCSIS 3” and “dark fibre”. Suddenly Telstra’s strategy makes sense — for Telstra — but it delays the rollout of high-speed broadband even further. Again.
DOCSIS 3 is a new system for cable internet which increases speeds from the current 17Mbit per second of BigPond Cable (30Mbit in Sydney and Melbourne) to 100Mbit or more. Last week Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo revealed that the technology is being deployed, but implied that it won’t be offered until they’re forced to by a competitor’s actions.
“We have [DOCSIS 3] as an option if somebody chooses to compete and to compete with us,” he told a conference in Phoenix.
“The only difference is we’ll be there a lot quicker a lot faster a lot bigger, a lot more integrated and with more capabilities than anybody else.”
How does Telstra do it quicker? By quietly stashing away its secret weapons, ready to be unleashed when a competitor tried to deploy their own big guns. Remember how Telstra didn’t sell ADSL2+ broadband, even from exchanges where equipment was already installed, until ISPs like iiNet started selling their own ADSL2+?
This time Telstra will do it quicker by using dark fibre — optical fibre cable that’s already in the ground but not yet “lit up” by the data-carrying laser beams.