Broadband saves Dixons 42% on data transmission

Dixons Group has saved 42% a year on its fixed-line data costs as a result of rolling out a national ADSL network to its stores.

Dixons Group has saved 42% a year on its fixed-line data costs as a result of rolling out a national ADSL network to its stores.

The saving was revealed by Dixons Group telecoms manager Ian Perry when he addressed the CMA Conference in London last week.

Perry said the electrical retailer had decided to migrate from more expensive X.25 and 64kbps-based Frame Relay networks in 2000, when the first ADSL services were launched by BT.

The broadband lines are used to support the Eclipse till system in stores, the intranet and general internet access.

For security reasons, Perry said the ADSL network has been partitioned into segments to prevent a rogue desktop or laptop infecting the whole network.

"We have got a lot of capable network people who connect customers’ laptops to the internet as part of our sales and support service, whether that is through a fixed point or a wireless point. Unfortunately, some of these machines can be infected with a virus and have been known to infect our network," he said.

Future broadband developments at Dixons will include voice over IP and videoconferencing, Perry added. Dixons will be using the lines to multicast information to large numbers of staff.

The voice over IP option will hit the stores after intensive testing by Dixons’ personnel on an individual basis, including home-to-work links.

However, Dixons faced problems with its ADSL line, as it could only get a 500kbps broadband link for large stores in out of town locations when they needed a 2mbps connection, and small stores in towns could get a 2mbps connection when they only needed 500kbps. This is because of the distance of the large out of town stores from broadband-enabled phone exchanges.

The upstream (data sending) speed of all Dixons’ lines is also pegged at 256kbps, whether the downstream speed is 500kbps, 1bps or 2mbps. Perry said the upstream limitation can impinge on the performance of the tills when conducting transactions.

Perry urged BT to increase ADSL upstream speeds. In Ireland for instance, an upstream speed of 320kbps is available with some standard ADSL packages.

Dixons has looked at the adoption of symmetrical DSL (SDSL) to deliver equal speeds in both directions, but this has been deemed as too expensive and is not widely available.

"What we need is SDSL connectivity at ADSL prices," said Perry.

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