Those who feel Australia should invest in a future-proof National Broadband Network (NBN), and that a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network offers the best long-term investment, have new reason to take umbrage with the nation’s communications minister Malcolm Turnbull after he yesterday said a quick-and-cheap approach is the best way to deliver broadband.
While the report pins Australias future productivity on technological innovation, it makes no mention of the National Broadband Network (NBN) — the most expensive single civil infrastructure project in the countrys history.
However, it does say that “investment in new infrastructure and making better use of Australias existing infrastructure assets is important to generating economic activity in the near term as the economy transitions from resources-investment-led growth”.
The idea of a user-paid, fibre-on-demand scheme has been supported by the current Australian government for some time. In February 2013, then-Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed the idea and highlighted BT’s similar rollout in the UK.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t do that. If you can offer fibre on demand, and the reason you’ve got that is you’ve got in these modern [full service access networks], you’ve got ports that are capable of supporting GPON and VDSL,” Turnbull said. “And so if you’ve got a customer that wants fibre for whatever reason, then there’s no reason, technically, why you shouldn’t make it available.”
However, in the time since Turnbull made those comments, BT Openreach increased its prices for an on-demand connection by up to £2,625 (AU$5,158). In its January 2014 price increase, Openreach said it would begin charging £300 (AU$590) for a fibre upgrade for a premises that is less than 200 metres from the node, right up to £6,125 (AU$12,037) for a premises close to 2km from the node.
I wonder what the limit will be per node? assuming only n amount of Users can switch to fibre per node. Will they guarantee speeds or will this cause contention on the node? Will definitely be following this one closely. A bit rich that some have to pay for a service that has been rolled out to others using tax payers dollars previously.
It wasn’t all that long ago that our Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull took to the whiteboard to explain why we don’t need the level of high-speed broadband that was promised to Australia under Labor’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) plan. He has since gone quiet on the issue, as he has been able to lock the country into a low-speed broadband solution, without any plan for truly high-speed broadband in the future.
Lock it in, Eddie.
Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) and Melbourne University professor Rod Tucker said the high speeds were possible, but on HFC everything depended on the number of users on the network at the same time.
“I’m not a great fan of the multi-technology mix that the Coalition has implemented, but I think the best part of their strategy is to use the existing HFC network, because it does have the capability of being reused and providing good extra bandwidth,” Mr Tucker, who has advocated for FTTP and helped with the development of the NBN, said.
“You can easily expect over 100Mbps downstream for DOCSIS 3.0, which means in the new NBN those people with HFC will likely be doing better on average than the people with fibre-to-the-node.”
NBN Co said the cost of upgrading all of its network from DOCSIS 1.0 to the current best level of 3.0 was minimal, and that the networks could already carry DOCSIS 3.0. Therefore it was more a matter of consumers replacing their modems with compatible ones.
Back to the issue of contention. From everything I’ve read and from actual experience HFC is fast until the number of users increases exponentially, then it begins to all slow down. Hopefully DOCSSIS 3.0 and 3.1 can fix this. Bill Morrow claiming HFC NBN will be as fast as Labors FTTP is a bit of claim chowder though. Maybe at introductory 100/40 speeds this is true, however NBN Co was ready to turn on 1000/400 at the flick of a switch and with small upgrades the FTTP solution will go up to speeds of 10 gigabits. That’s with technology available today. I think more effort is being put into R&D on Fibre then HFC so IMHO I see Fibre development outstripping HFC R&D.
NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock told journalists at the company’s half-year results last week that he was in negotiations with contractors to build fibre-to-the-node connections.
“We’re looking to start to scale [FTTN trials] up towards the end of this financial year so you can join the dots as to how far off the contracts are,” he said.
A lot of big contracts in place to develop plans for all of the “Multi Technology Mix” cruft. Money that could have been poured into a continued FTTP plan. The FTTN costs are particularly concerning given the life of the solution until it will need upgrading.