WorldxChange calls for the good ol' days of Austel

WorldxChange is eagerly eyeing a raft of new profitable ventures; but of all the options, ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Link) is proving a big drawcard.

The carrier is queuing up behind other new market players for a slice of Telstra's local loop business, reporting the only inhibitor is regulatory red tape.

Richard Vincent, WorldxChange's chief executive, explained the biggest difficulty the carrier faces is forcing the change through the telecommunication industry's disparate regulatory bodies.

"Come back Austel, all is forgiven," he said.

Vincent said that it was easier to implement industry change before Austel and the Spectrum Management Agency merged to form the Australian Communications Authority on July 1, 1997.

"We all need law firms to move [ADSL] along faster, but we can't afford [the legal costs]," he said.

ADSL technology allows competitive carriers to use the existing local loop, or copper wire connection from the user to the telephone exchange, to offer new services and achieve significant increases in bandwidth speeds.

Industry players recognise Telstra as resisting competitive access to the local loop because this threatens to undermine the carrier's "bread and butter" revenue.

Meanwhile, WorldxChange is just months away from opening its own ISP business, in addition to CDMA (code division multiple access) mobile services.

According to Chris Bantoft, WorldxChange's president and chief operating officer, the moves reflect the Australian operation's ability to move faster than its other international operations.

"This country is that much further ahead than the sister companies abroad," he said.

Bantoft said customers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK now look beyond the telco price-cut wars to integrated or value-added services.

The goal for WorldxChange is to offer a variety of corporate and consumer customers integrated services with one bill, he said.

WorldxChange's decision to pursue new market opportunities follows months of maintaining a "watching brief" on other players in the industry.

But while Bantoft is certain the carrier can make money out of new businesses -- such as an ISP -- he conceded it will be tricky for WorldxChange to differentiate itself in the market. "You got any ideas?" he quipped.

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