.....and what an interesting future it may turn out to be.
Having received our first applications for the Telstra Point Cook fibre services (a small number but more than I expected on the first day seeing we have done no advertising or any other sort of promotion)we discovered that, no big surprise, that the Telstra Lolig extensions didn't work and the orders our automated processes sent through were all rejected. This was remedied by Telstra within 48 hours by Telstra so there was no inconvenience but it seemed to indicate to us that perhaps no other wholesaler had started to process fibre orders with Telstra as yet. Maybe they just hadn't added Exetel's "details" to their data base? ...though that seems unlikely...perhaps other re-sellers just aren't as efficient as Exetel?
So now we have managed to get our early fibre orders accepted with a provisioning time of five working days so our first fibre customers are scheduled to "go live" next Monday. As we progressively get our queries answered on the less clear clauses in the agreement and the 'operations manual' it becomes very clear that Exetel must be Telstra's only wholesale customer to be actually have read those documents because the group of people within TW responsible for dealing with the various aspects of the service seem to be unable to answer the questions directly and several, what I would have thought were basic factual matters are currently unresolved....but it's very early days I suppose.
One thing that was not clear to us, and the contract clauses and 'operations manual' were unclear about was what happens to the customers PSTN connection when the fibre is activated. The current clarification is that the PSTN is 'cut off' when the fibre is activated and the telephone service is then provided over fibre - something that appears to be 'intuitively' wrong but is the situation. How the customer subsequently cancels the telephone service is still unclear nor is it clear whether their PSTn/fibe telephone number is able to be transferred to VoIP. Again, not a big deal and, I suppose, one reason why the current process is being referred to as a 'trial'.
It turns out we have 70 or so ADSL customers whose addresses match the 1,500 or so fibre available residences in Point Cook. We sent those customers emails yesterday advising them of the opportunity of getting fibre instead of ADSL. I will be interested to see what level, if any, take up there is among current Exetel customers. As the Telstra pricing is more expensive than ADSL pricing I don't expect much interest, if any.
Talking of pricing - I was given the fibre pricing being offered by a provider I had never heard of called ISPone and saw that it was 'unlimited' starting at $A70.00 per month for the 8 mbps service. Now I'm pretty sure that a company that I've never heard of isn't going to be getting much better pricing from Telstra Wholesale than Exetel does (though, of course, I can't be certain of that) but assuming the pricing is similar to that given to Exetel then the fibre offer by this company are far from sensible and gives some indication that the fibre marketplaces may become as pointless as the current ADSL marketplaces if such companies survive for very long or offer such pricing for very long if they do in fact survive. So we checked on the other providers listed in the Telstra press release as offering fibre services in Point Cook but Dodo said they had no details and both Internode and
iiNet's sales lines said they were about to make ordering active 'soon' and their pricing was on their web sites but was not yet 'firm'.
So it's "back to the future" as far as fibre is concerned - that is to say - new services/old and discredited pricing practices based on 'copying' the opposition and bringing no new or even sensible offers using the new, more 'exciting', technology with no discernible advantages for the vast majority of users. Sped, sure, but right now how does any user benefit from that? I can't see any benefit for the vast majority of users right now and without a price advantage fibre in Point Cook offers only the novelty of an increased download speed and, I'm assured because of the prevalence of rims in the district, speed may be an attraction in itself as the majority/all can only get 3 mbps at the most.
Exetel has done as much as it can to make a faster service available at as good a price as is possible for us based on what we have to pay for the monthly port cost. Telstra has helped the cost equation by making the activation free. As I said, the acid test will be whether how many/any of the current Exetel ADSL customers in Point Cook decide to move from their ADSL connections to the new faster fibre connections. As Exetel's percentage of ADSL users in Point Cook almost exactly reflects Exetel's National percentage of total users this trial will, at least at the current price points and state of knowledge, be a fairly useful guide to future take of of fibre around Australia. Will that be 100%? I very much doubt it but we have a very interesting coming six months to find out.
In the meantime Telstra is gaining incredibly valuable information from seeing what the take up is by type of plan offered by their competitors compared to themselves - I wish I had access to such precise marketing information.