Wednesday, 9 January 2013

NBN: Creating opportunity out of disaster

There's an opportunity for electricity/utility suppliers and distributors in the current bushfires sweeping South Eastern Australia and Tasmania:
There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers of electricity network (poles and wires) to be replaced. This is the perfect opportunity to either add fibre optical cable to the poles or make them "fibre ready" by installing non-metallic strain cables.
The incremental cost of adding conduit and fibre to new or replaced underground or overhead utility distribution networks, like electricity, gas, water, storm-water or sewerage, is minor, whilst the on-going returns are substantial.

The network owner can do everything from own and supply full network services to rent their network to NBN Co or other comms networks.

It was only after gas suppliers had installed a few thousand kilometers of new trunk and reticulation network up the East Coast of Australia that an ISP in one town, Cooma, asked if they could lay conduit in their trenches. You could hear the collective, "Do'Oh!" by the Board from Melbourne to Sydney, when they'd realised they'd passed up a massive recurrent income opportunity, simply by always doing what they'd done.

[10-Jan-2013] Paul Budde commented in an email [with permission to quote]:
I discussed this situation with Conroy after the bushfires in Victoria in 2009.
I suggested to use this opportunity to look at a combined NBN/smart grid deployment. Within days it was however clear that this would never happen.

All of those organisations operate in silos and there are no plans in place to change that. In the rush to get people connected old technologies rather than new ones are used so every single time the opportunity is missed.

Now, 4 years later nothing has changed.

Unless there is a holistic plan in place can such a united initiative be implemented. Trying to get such a plan in place after a disaster is totally impossible because of that silo thinking.

Despite many inquiries no comprehensive plans have been developed to overcome this.
The only one who can change this is the government they need to direct the utilities to work together towards a trans-sector approach.


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