Tuesday, 26 June 2018 17:28

St Kilda landmark gets gigabit fibre

By
Edgewater Towers, St Kilda Edgewater Towers, St Kilda

The oldest privately-developed high-rise apartment block in Melbourne is now connected to the Internet by a fibre network delivering 1000Mbps services.

Melbourne-based systems integrator and wholesale telco DGtek has been building a fibre network in its own neighbourhood.

Covering parts of Elwood and St Kilda (including St Kilda Road), DGtek's network supports speeds up to 1000Mbps, with services sold by Pineapple Net, Roctel, VOIPLine and Opalnet.

The latest building to be connected is St Kilda's noted Edgewater Towers.

As these premises are just outside DGtek's previous footprint (Dickens Street, Brighton Road and St Kilda Road), it was treated as a "custom solution" and so the building's owners corporation paid $270 per apartment to have it connected.

When a large building is "on net" there is no connection fee payable by the owner or owners corporation. Instead, individual residents pay a fee that ranges from $99 to $150 (which is being waived by Pineapple Net during July).

"We decided to offer all residents of Edgewater Towers a two week free trial of our high-speed Internet service, and so far not a single one has decided to switch back to their old provider," said Pineapple Net customer service representative Amelia Larkin.

"It just goes to show that Australians really are eager for an accessible high-speed Internet service outside the office."

Monthly fees are a modest $55 for 100/100Mbps, $79.99 for 300/300Mbps, or $149.99 for 1000/1000Mbps. The symmetrical speeds are particularly important for those who regularly upload large files (eg video) for business or personal reasons, or who used cloud-based backup systems.

Less demanding customers can select a 50/50Mbps plan for $39.99 a month.

According to the NBN Co website, Edgewater Towers will be served by HFC, with planned availability in the first half of 2019, so it is easy to see why residents responded positively to Pineapple Net's offer.

The cheapest NBN 100 plan shown on Telstra's website costs $99 a month for 100GB of data, and a similar plan from Aussie Broadband costs $75 a month.

The problem, from NBN Co's perspective, is that it has to cover the entire country and provide the same wholesale prices regardless of how much it costs to service particular premises, whereas smaller operators can be more focused.

"DGtek are seeing an increasing demand from residential customers requesting custom full fibre solutions within their apartment buildings," said business development manager Richard Graber.

"We are able to provide the fastest residential Internet speeds on the market with an accessible pricing structure, and it seems that Australian's want to experience it firsthand."

In 2015, NBN Co put full fibre deployments in existing apartment building into the too-hard basket, saying "Installing FttB in high-rise buildings is a smoother process than installing fibre to the premises."

DGtek doesn't only service entire apartment and office buildings. "Any premises — house, office block, apartment block — can be serviced as long as DGtek’s fibre is available," explained Larkin.

"We can also service one apartment within a building," she added, although discounts may be available where the majority of residents are interested in the service.

DGtek plans to increase its service area by using overhead cables.

Image: Edgewater Towers (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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