A Conklin is a type of "mini-DSLAM" (Digital subscriber line access multiplexer) manufactured by the American company Conklin Intracom, hence the name. These units were introduced in the mid 2000’s into the Chorus infrastructure (Telecom-owned at the time) to provide ADSL services for small groups of customers, particularly in rural areas for which there was either no direct copper access from the local exchange or where service by the previous DSLAM's was not economic.
With standard copper broadband, the signal (and hence the speed) degrades with every meter away from the nearest Exchange, getting slower and slower until you get to around 5kms at which point copper simply cannot carry a data signal any further reliably. Fibre can of course overcome this limitation, but in the absence of Fibre we have to rely on the existing copper POTS infrastructure to help us to connect rural customers.
Quickfire facts on the Conklin mini-DSLAM:
Each mini-DSLAM can support a maximum of 60 customers
The DSLAM is connected to the Chorus network via an E1 copper connection, which can attain a maximum of 2Mbps
Each Conklin can support up to 4 E1 connections, so up to four E1 circuits per unit were bonded together to achieve a total of 8Mbps per circuit.
Total bandwidth per unit is shared amongst all connected users
It’s important to note that since this is ADSL1 technology, the unit can only physically achieve 7.6Mbps (given a perfect environment.)
Okay, in English please?
In the early 2000’s this solution worked well for rural areas with small numbers of users but as time went on, the number of users per cabinet increased to the point where many of these DSLAMs now have the maximum 60 users connected. All of these users now have to contend for a limited backhaul – and this is where the problems begin. Because the bandwidth is shared by all users connected to the DSLAM concurrently, the peak time traffic contention ratio often means extremely slow performance for the vast majority of users.
What can I do about this?
Sadly, the outlook is quite bleak. Unless your Community is able to raise enough money (upwards of $300k I believe) to finance an infrastructure upgrade in your area, Chorus are unlikely to prioritise upgrading this equipment. They need to be able to make a business case for a reasonable ROI for putting in the infrastructure to tie over a community until it can get Fibre.
But all is not completely lost. Vodafone have rolled out our Rural Broadband Initiative in many of the affected areas. If broadband reliability is a major factor in decision-making for the prospective purchase of property, be sure to request a broadband prequalification for the address so we can let you know approximately what kind of speeds to expect. Our tech support team are able to arrange a prequalification on your behalf.
If you are keen on a far more technical explanation than I have offered here, Steve Biddle has written an absolutely brilliant article on Geekzone about legacy Chorus network equipment and how they work. Click here to read the article.
Thanks for reading. I hope I’ve answered a question or two and if so, please remember to +1 this topic. If you have any questions, please create a new topic in the appropriate section and one of our friendly staff are sure to help.
Hey guys! An addtional piece of hope for those in this situation is that with urban sprawl, comes new developments being built. If you have one of these going up near you then it's likely that with all of these new houses that are going up means that Chorus have enough reasons to upgrade the local network and in some lucky circumstances, fibre will be rolled out for these areas!
A bit more info on the RBI can be found on the MED site
Vodafone are primarly a Wholesale provider for RBI wireless (although they also retail this service themselves). Each provider will add their point of differnce, e.g. may have higher data caps, or can provide static IP, or maybe you like the idea of the customer service from a smaller provider. I install RBI Wireless connections for Ultimate Broadband and you can find other providers here
I myself now also use RBI. I'm on the edge of a rural town, just beyond the reach of VDSL. My RBI connection gives me a little extra speed than I got on ADSL, and I'm looking forward to seeing RBI Wireless rollout over 4G.