My buddy Ant Timpson texted me a couple of nights ago. He was excited. Understandably so. After "four years of the worst broadband ever" up towards the end of the peninsular in Pt Chev, he'd just been the recipient of the first connection to Telecom's new cabinets, which have debuted in our suburb, the land where DSL has been barely alive.
The technician had done a speed test after installation: 21Mbit/s downstream. The techie said it was the fastest residential connection ever measured in New Zealand, then called his mates to tell them about it.
This morning, I popped around the corner to see the official opening of the cabinet at 281 Pt Chevalier Road that made Ant so happy. I was impressed. There are three cabinets installed so far, with another 12 to come online. Fibre runs from each cabinet to the Mt Albert exchange, via the existing ducting. Anyone on a DSL connection with an unlimited speed account and a reasonably new DSL modem will, as their cabinet comes online, go up to ADSL 2+ speeds by default.
There are about 1500 such cabinets to be rolled out in other areas over the next couple of years. Telecom's competitors regard cabinetisation as a dodge by Telecom to get around local loop un bundling, and it is, in part.
But as you can see in the pictures in the gallery for this post, half the space for DSLAMS in the cabinets is set aside for "access seekers" -- that is, the likes of Orcon and Vodafone, who may wish to place their kit in the cabinets the way they are in the unbundled exchanges.
At present, access is a matter of commercial negotiation with Telecom Wholesale, rather than regulation. We'll see how that goes, but I did think the Telecom Wholesale people I talked to on the roadside were speaking in good faith. They have products in the pipeline: dedicated IP bandwidth for third-party IP phone services, IP Eft-Pos connections, and even new fibre runs from the cabinets. It really does look pretty cool.
I think a good deal of credit should go to the Business In Servce of Community group, who staged the original, infamous public meeting about broadband service last year and kept hammering away on the issue. This is a great result for them, and for the 600 businesses, including mine, that operate out of the suburb.
There was a coverage map at the launch. The cabinet that serves my street comes online on April 18. Cool.
Telecom's CEO Paul Reynolds said at the launch that the rollout "represents a more open Telecom". Given the history, most people will want proof of that. But today, I'm inclined to give Dr Reynolds the benefit of the doubt.