I live in Noosa, Qld.
I currently am on an ADSL plan with TPG & have being tryingto upgrade to ADSL2+ (With any providor) but have been advsied that there are no ports at the local exchange. With the NBN not expected here for at least 3 years, I appear to be doomed to slow internet speeds. Not fully understanding the wireless network, would it be available in Noosa, reliability, what sort of download speeds could I expect & what extra hardware would I need? Thanks, Roy
I would say the reason that there are no ports available is that every company is using the same ports.
As for Wireless (or most accurately, mobile broadband) - I would not recommend moving on to mobile broadband from a fixed line connection, even a lousy fixed-line connection. Mobile Broadband, as the name suggests, uses a 3G mobile network to transfer data. It's a 'good enough' solution for checking your email while you're out and about, but it doesn't offer the stability of a fixed-line connection. A mobile broadband connection can be interrupted by weather and geography, just like any other radio network. Also, the speeds boasted about on 3G are theoretical; apart from interruption, the network can also become congested, severely crippling the capability of your connection. And of course, mobile broadand offers dramatically less data for the same amount of money.
To offer a bit of backstory: Your telephone line reaches back to the local telephone exchange. At the exchange (of which there are about 2200 in Australia) an internet service provider (ISP) can house a DSLAM, which is networked back to the home network for that ISP.
The costs involved for an ISP to install and connect a new DSLAM is roughly $100,000, give or take. The costs include the DSLAM itself (a big networking point with several hundred ports, depending on design), the installation of it and the hauling of fibre optics to the area to connect that area up.
The 6 large providers of a DSLAM network are Telstra Wholesale (BigPond), Optus Wholesale (Optusnet), Chime (iiNet), Pipe Networks (TPG), Agile (Internode) and M2 Communications (iPrimus). iPrimus connects about 200 exchanges, the rest, except Telstra, connect about 300-400.Telstra connects nearly all 2200, for reasons we'll get into.
As you can imagine, these companies have to plot their network according to economics. ADSL2+ can only be served to residents within about 4500m of the exchange building; in regional and rural areas, that might only be a handful of homes. Most ISPs cannot afford to connect a $100,000 device to 500 potential customers paying $60 a month. Especially when you consider that half of that $60 a month goes to Telstra to provide the connection from the exchange to the customer's home, the charge otherwise known as 'line rental', also known as the 'last mile' connection. As a result, most networks will only extend to densely populated metro areas, and overlap each other.
Telstra, on the other hand, was subsidized by the government, under the Australian Broadband Guarantee scheme, to upgrade all of their exchanges to ADSL2+. Telstra's overhead costs are lower, and their reach is far wider than any of the competition. So they connected (or are in the process of connecting) ADSL2+ DSLAMs at all of these exchanges.
For the companies that cannot afford to set up their own DSLAM in these areas, many will offer what's often referred to as Off-Net Plans. Internode calls them Reach plans. But regardless of the name, the idea is to lease a connection to Telstra Wholesale's DSLAM and re-sell it to the customer. TW's prices are high, and so the retail price reflects that. Off-net prices are usually quite similar to BigPond prices, and that's no accident; in fact, it's more that BigPond's prices must stay similar to TW prices, or TW will have to drop their prices. It's a messy business.
Back to your issue: I'd wager that right now, your exchange only houses TW equipment, and the reason there are no ports is that everyone in the area is connecting to the same DSLAM. In a metro area, there would 4 or 5 DSLAMs housed in the one exchange, and the load would be spread more evenly.
The other possibility is that you are on Remote Integrated Multiplexer (RIM). This is where your copper line extends to a nearby point, like a streetside cabinet, which in turn is wired back to the main exchange with optical fibre. RIMs were set up in new estates, to extend the capability of the exchange and bring it closer. Telstra deployed these as a cost saving measure, and also to test the viability of a Fibre-To-The-Node (FttN) network in the mid 2000's, which is an alternative to Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP), which extends fibre all the way to each house, and which the National Broadband Network will seek to deploy.
Inside a RIM, Telstra would house equipment that could mimic a copper pair connection, providing ADSL and Phone in one port. It is, in effect,a mini exchange. But the equipment used will only deploy ADSL 1 speeds. Other ISPs can lease these ports and re-sell them to you.
Telstra is currently initiating a country-wide 'top-hat' upgrade, putting ADSL2+ capable equipment in these RIMs. You could contact either TPG or Telstra to see whether you're A) on a RIM and B) in line for an upgrade.
It's worth noting that RIMs are not all bad. ADSL2+ connections leave the exchange at 24Mbps, while ADSL leaves the excvhange at 8Mbps. On the way to your house, they both lose signal at about the same rate, and reduce to half after about 2000m. It's conceivable that even if you did get an ADSL2+ port at the exchange, you might have been too far to get a decent connection speed anyway. A RIM within your own neighbourhood, giving you an 8Mbps connection over a few hundred meters, might be giving you a faster speed! But this is all guessing - only your ISP could tell you the exact situation.
With any speed issues, it's always worth chasing up as much info as you can, if you really would like to see it resolved. Guessing that your connection is slow simply because you're on ADSL might be correct, but it also might be way off. There's a lot that can go on in the ground and along the way.
If you suspect that your ISP, and Telstra, are not eager to assist because the NBN would render this all moot...you may be right. At this stage, the status of Australia's copper network is very unsure. But credit to Telstra, and the ISPs: they've all pledged that they will continue building DSLAMs, and upgrading RIMs, even in the face of it all being torn up again in 10 years.
A lesson can be gleaned from the recent NBNco / Optus deal. Optus was paid $800 million to shut down it's cable network, and migrate its cable customers to the NBN. This was to compensate Optus for the several billion it spent in the making of infrastructure that was now going to be obsolete. TPG's DSLAM network might not have cost it several billion dollars; but they have built something, at cost, that will be made obsolete by the government. TPG and other ISPs might go on building anyway, to cover the years during which the NBN will be built, with the hope that they will be paid to shut down their own networks. If your area is out of ports, it's at least a sign that decent amount of people, keen on a broadband connection, are getting connected. That might be enough to put Noosa on the radar of the big ISPs to build there.
Adam at CompareBroadband
1300 106 571