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A cheaper way to roll out faster broadband

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 16:27

We have been presented with two ways of delivering faster broadband across our nation. One involves running fibre to the vast majority of properties in the country. The other involves deploying fibre to the node – not as fast, but cheaper and quicker to deliver.

Both ways involve a fair chunk of money from the taxpayer, even if the plan is to recoup that by selling the network down the track. 

It seems the Coalition alternative is based on resolving one problem – getting fibre into the premises. We heard last week how OpenReach in the UK had basically abandoned the exercise because it was too difficult.

This week Mark Grgeory,  senior lecturer in electrical and computer engineering at RMIT University, argues that it’s easy to abandon fibre to the premises when nobody has stipulated what the objectives are for a next generation network. What do we need it for and what should it look like?

It’s a view shared by Peter Cochrane, a 38 year veteran of British Telecom, who sees fibre to the premises as essential. But he has another, cheaper way, of getting us there. Listen to this week’s podcast and see if his idea is the answer for Australia.

Call the CrossTalk feedback line on 02 9304 5198.

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CrossTalk is produced for CommsDay

Last modified on Thursday, 29 August 2013 21:07



0 #1 Leon Wright 2013-07-04 13:23
That's not such a bad idea, maybe with a slight modification. Fiber to the little box outside the house. However we may not have enough room in the ducts to cater for that. Worth investigating and doesn't significantly alter the overall plan for the NBN.

Fibre patch leads are available in many lengths and termination is a solved problem. That's how all our fibre was delivered between our sites. We have a Fibre NTU, routing equipment/confi guration and patching was our problem.

I'd certainly pay for a self install kit and I'd help my friends/family with the same. The people who don't want it can get left in the past. Brilliant thing about fiber is the failure scenario is generally not intermittent, it either works or it doesn't. Loose cables or reverse patching would be pretty trivial for a tech to diagnose and pass on the fee to the home owner, just as things are done right now (Telstra's responsibilty ends at the NTU outside the house).

Thankyou for covering upload speeds, IMO the biggest technological leap we'd see out of a FttP solution over a FttN one.
-1 #2 Paul Hahn 2013-07-04 16:10
Bullshit podcast Phil. Your agenda is clearly evident. You must feel right at home on Commsday.

Good luck.
0 #3 PhilD 2013-07-04 21:59
Thanks for the vote of confidence Paul. And what exactly is my agenda?
0 #4 Paul Brooks 2013-07-05 12:21
Phil - re the last 60 secs - Telstra *DOES* own the ducts in the ground in your own garden - and even if you dig your own trench and put in your own conduit, Telstra will not use it - they will dig their own trench and put in their own conduit, and use that instead.

They own everything up to the first wall socket - including the duct and cable on your land.

In private greenfield development communities, they get the developers to dig the trenches and install the conduits, then the developers gift ownership to Telstra of those conduits.
0 #5 Phil D 2013-07-05 19:10
Yes Paul, but what if Telstra is not involved. NBN delivers fibre to the street and company X, or me, hooks it up however I see fit. And if there's a hole through my property is Telstra really in a position to say they own that hole and I can't shove something through it.
0 #6 Paul Hahn 2013-07-06 21:35
@ Phil Dobbie ....
'What's my agenda?' he asks, all innocent.

2:25 '.... a better climate, even to try and untangle the mess we have here.'
What 'mess' is that Phil? Or is it a value judgement?
6:30 .... Bang for your buck, it [fttn] looks like it's better solution doesn't it?'
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you may be playing devils advocate, but lets wait and see.
8:55 '.... And that might be right but the real issue is it do-able. Do we believe that NBN can stick with it's remit ....'
Nice dismissal of the advantages of fttp and a segue into doubt - can it be done? Then it's a case of raising property owners objections to running fttp without any consideration of the similar response to fridge size cabinets. Hmmmm. And as for 'pitchforks'? Oh please!
11:11 Nice stats there Phil. Just how selective were they?
11:55 'Contracting out isn't working' Nice generalization there. Yes there have been issues, with one prime contractor and with some sub-contractors , but to say it 'isn't working' is a gross generalization. How has any work been done at all then?
18:00 Yep, 5 mins of how it's worth talking about letting people do the 'last mile' 'in building work themselves. And forget the regulations, the stuff ups, the costs. The user can pay. Hints of Lib policy there. Yep. Haphazard is good! Why it even promotes competition, regardless of how inefficient it is.
(And I won't comment on the basic idea - akin to suggesting the water company simply runs the mains past the premise and everyone is responsible for getting from there from the premise. Lol)
24:30 'We do seem to be obsessed with the very edge of the network'
Again you cut across and dismiss suggestions that fttp is the best option by describing it as the 'edge of the network' and push the fttn/curb notion, again in line with the Liberal policy. Then let the 'haphazard process' take place ... you mean like a free market/user pays? Oh the Libs again.
26:50 'Maybe we need a summit' Oh please Phil, don't make me laugh. A summit? After all the years of consultation and regulation you are actually suggesting a two day summit? But then that fits in with the Lib agenda again doesn't it. Let's stop and review this. We've just heard how consumers running their own 'last mile' can work, and maybe it should be just a case of running FiO past the premise, and if that can't be done, then what about even just to the node and the user can arrange it from there? Thin end of the wedge Phil.
27:10 Again with the '.... how do we sort out the mess we are in ....'. That's twice. And again I ask 'What mess?' You have a predetermined mindset (one which you don't mind sharing), of that the telco/NBN is in a mess? Yet you don't substantiate it, just put it out there as fact. What does that say about preconceptions and from the tone of the commentary, an agenda?
As for the closing statements, .... really. Getting a bit silly. You dismiss the FTTP scenario ' do you know we need it at all ....' (nice bit of doubt sown there) without providing any reasoning, rather relying on some not so relevant discussion on how the network should be overall rather than from a pure infrastructure perspective.
Then a rant about ducts in gardens? Lol And never mind the regulatory implications of DIYS telecoms connections. Seriously?
But you assert that neither is the ideal option. So you are looking for a compromise, a variation to the NBN as it currently stands, Forget ubiquity, forget standards, forget costs to the end user, let them run it themselves. Hmmmm
And again it contains elements of the Libs policy. Do as little as possible and let the consumer deal with their own resources and the market to get the best connection. And that is contrary to one of the primary motivations behind the current NBN policy.

You are a journo and a wordsmith Phil. And in this case, words speak for themselves.
You've also done a podcast promoting the UK option for BB (fttn), now this one promoting the options of not running FiO to the premise, calling for a summit, etc.

Will your next podcast be on the benefits of fttp? Will you play devils advocate to any arguments for fttn? I suspect not.

There's your agenda right there. Oh, and ask the owner of Commsday what his personal agenda is. You might be surprised (or not as the case may be.) And if you want any idea, look on WP.
0 #7 PhilD 2013-07-08 07:13

I thought a large chunk of this podcast argued that fibre is needed all the way. Then I raised the question of how that is done. It can be done the way it is now, but is there another option. As to the mess the telco industry is in, that's largely a factor of how Telstra was sold. The mess is trying to fix that issue whilst building a new network. I don't think many people would argue that that has created a distortion. If Telstra was operating as separated entities I am fairly certain the government would not have setup NBNCo to build the solution. As to me being a Liberal apologist, look around my website a little! :-)
0 #8 CraigT 2013-07-10 20:43
You seem to be suggesting the NBN should be "faster" and "cheaper".
It's not expensive, and the roll-out is ahead of schedule. It doesn't need to be either faster or cheaper.
It's a very good project that will deliver vital infrastructure at a very modest cost.

You also state the coalition' ...let's call it a "plan"... is cheaper than the current project. I doubt anybody in the business would agree with that - it is a defective approach that will in the long run create much higher costs and doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

ACMA cabling regulations are designed to mitigate DIY cabling risks. I doubt we would want to get rid of them
+1 #9 RichardU 2013-08-31 18:30
In another of your podcasts, Malcolm Turnbull dismisses Peter Cochrane because Malcolm “hasn’t heard of him”. Does that say something incontrovertibl e about Lord Wentworth when it comes to his quest for the best solution, all things considered?
The suggestion about fibre to the front gate has much to commend it. It is what happened with the HFC rollout and that happened pretty quickly.
If only it wasn’t for the need to get Telstra completely out of the question. This need has given us an opportunity to start again with a new wholesale entity and do the job properly once and for all. It is unfortunate this is being sacrificed on the career ambitions of two people.
When FTTN finally comes to HFC areas, will everyone have cable to the exterior of their house at no cost to the occupant?
0 #10 Elisabeth 2014-03-29 02:25
Note that killing agents should probably be a last resort.
The alarm may also get triggered at the monitoring facility of the alarm company.
- The first misconception is that you have to
pay too much for putting them in and for surveillance.

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