Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra has reportedly reached the halfway mark in an exchange upgrade project. According to ZDNet Australia, the telco has confirmed that over the past ten months it has installed 1,000 of 2,000 planned ‘Top Hat’ boxes. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in October 2011 Telstra unveiled plans to upgrade around 200,000 additional phone lines to ADSL2+ via its ‘Top Hat’ project. The lines in question are those unable to upgrade to higher speed services due to limited space in local exchange cabinets, a problem that the project aims to address by bolting an additional box on to the street cabinet. The telco at the time of the announcement did, however, note that ‘locations where National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout is imminent or on the roadmap for the near future will not be getting Top Hat technology. It is an interim technology to provide fast broadband pending NBN rollout.’
Commenting on the current status of the project, Mike Wright, Telstra’s executive director of networks, was cited as saying: ‘So far, we’ve invested around AUD80 million (USD82 million) to make ADSL2+ broadband services available to more than 200,000 homes and businesses … Around 100,000 of these customers have been upgraded from an ADSL service to ADSL2+, while the remaining 100,000 services provide the opportunity for new customers to access fast fixed broadband for the first time.’ Further, the executive said that Telstra now expects to have installed 1,850 Top Hats by the end of this year, covering some 350,000 premises.