Thursday, 23 August 2012

NBN: The Turnbull Guarantee we'll never see...

Technology Spectator has written some recent pieces on Turnbull's NBN proposal I've commented on (below):
If Mr Turnbull owned the NBN he's proposing, would he offer an effective bandwidth guarantee (or your money back)? I wonder...

As far as I can see, he's proposing VDSL2 with as few Cabinets and as little backhaul as he can get away with.

Saves $$$
But, if that's his solution, in busyhour, most people won't see 5Mbps.

Will Mr Turnbull offer a meaningful guarantee of minimum performance?
Could that have

Because NBN Co is not notionally a Govt service, but a commercial Co, the ACCC might have something to say about election promises, guarantees and misleading or deceptive comments.

So, will Mr Turnbull and the Coalition offer customers a performance guarantee for the their NBN?
If they do, will he/they be liable for commercial statement under the Trade Practice Act/Competition and Consumer Act?

That would make Political history in a way nobody would want to see.

"The Coalition's NBN collision course" - Comment

I'm concerned about the "50Mbps" speeds being quoted... It's in the G.993.2 standard, but not the BT network Turnbull was talking about.

BT Openreach are currently only talking about offering 40/10Mbps, and they've tested a higher frequency version at 80/20Mbps.

BUT, the Distance-Bandwidth Product applies. Increase the frequency, increase impedance, effective throughput declines much more rapidly at higher freq.

e.g. ADLS1 is preferable to ADSL2+ at extreme distance.

BBC report of "Ofcom" findings is the 40Mbps will really deliver 36Mbps. And with some ISP's, you might expect to realise only 1/3 of the theoretical bandwidth.
Turnbull knows all these subtleties, he invests in this area.

He won't go on record as saying: "We're offering access rates of 10 to 36Mbps, depending on your luck, and don't care about the backhaul congestion".

Also, BT are promoting Openreach as a superfast *Fibre* network. FttN is kinda "fibre"... but not "not as we know it, Jim".

BT's Big Build is only of the access network. Nothing is said about the backhaul, which is a big part of NBN Co's budget and schedule.

Backhaul congestion is a 'drop-dead' problem for residential broadband - which is why NBN Co is addressing it first. Gungahlin, ACT with ADSL-equipped RIM's learnt all about these problems.

"Why the BT model won't work" - Comment 1

On Lateline last night, Turnbull specifically mentioned 50Mbps to 80Mbps, implying it was the speed of BT's FttN.

Your piece, a lot more believable, say 24Mbps, which sounds like ADSL2+. I know that TransAct went VDSL and it's a low-volume product/standard. Doesn't make sense to anything but Really Popular chipsets/standards. [Openreach does offer 40/10Mbps with VDSL2]

MALCOLM TURNBULL: "Well our broadband policy is to
  • complete the national broadband network,
  • but to do so
  • sooner,
  • cheaper - less cost to the taxpayer - and
  • much more affordably for consumers
and that is our plan."

"So we will
  • complete the NBN,
  • all Australians will have access to
  • very fast broadband,
  • but because we'll use a mix of technologies and
  • use the most cost-effective ones where appropriate,
we will be able to do it sooner, cheaper and more affordably."

Q: What's "appropriate" FttP when he has to, FttN when he can and ADSL2+ elsewise?

Turnbull specifically says:
a lot of fibre to businesses and hospitals and schools and universities - I mean many of them have fibre now, so there will be plenty of fibre in the backbone of the network.
Hasn't the bulk of the NBN Co work until now been putting in place exactly that backbone network? And importantly, the Points of Interconnect and competitive Transit Backhaul.

"Why the BT model won't work" - Comment 2

Alan Kohler wrote a scathing piece on this 2 days ago [20'th] which I haven't seen you reference. "The Coalition’s NBN policy is madness"

He lays out a convincing set of reasons:

- Negotiating a deal to lease/buy Telstra copper couldn't be done as equals.
Imagine trying to negotiate that deal having made an unbreakable election promise that you would.
- reneging on the existing contract, is going to involve penalties
Replacing the NBN with a FTTN network would mean tearing up the existing $11 billion deal between NBN Co and Telstra
- Why we got a FttP not a FttN in the first place was Telstra's non-response to the Rudd/Conroy tender and the cost to buy the copper needed: $20B.

Because they are in an incredibly weak negotiating position with a very aggressive and opportunistic player (Telstra), the price is going to be considerably higher.
that a FTTN would require compensation to Telstra of more than $20 billion.
- Sunk Costs.
Also the NBN will be simply too far advanced.
- Planning permission for 'Node Cabinets'. Just how big as these remote DSLAM's? [RIM cabinet size?]
FTTN would require cabinets the size of big wardrobes on nature strips;" + building approvals
- Subsidies for regional/rural broadband: How's that going to be done?
And the final problem is that the NBN is a mechanism for subsidising regional and rural broadband,..
Is the Liberal National Party really going to end that subsidy and tell country towns that their fibre can’t be afforded ....
Kohler ends with succinct advice:
Don’t do it Malcolm. More importantly, don’t go into an election having promised to do it – you will soon find yourself in quicksand and eventually go down as the worst Communications Minister ever.
Announce, grumpily, that the NBN will be too far advanced to stop and that the Coalition will simply work to ensure that the project is delivered on time and on budget. And then get on board the fibre broadband wagon.

Sources and Notes:

VDSL2: ITU-T G.993.2. 2005
Starting from 1.6 km (1 mi) its performance is equal to ADSL2+
100 Mbit/s at 0.5 km (1,600 ft) and 50 Mbit/s at 1 km (3,300 ft)

May 2010: BT announce £2.5billion plans to roll-out a mixture of VDSL2 FTTC (75%) & GPON FTTP (25%) to 66% of the UK by 2015 with VDSL2 speeds starting at 40Mbit/s down 10Mbit/s up potentially rising to 60Mbit/s down 15Mbit/s up.[

The key stages, from planning to go live

From the moment you see your exchange appear on the rollout plans, it could be up to 15 months before it's ready to supply superfast fibre broadband. Why? Well, here's what we have to do...

Months 1-9: prepare the exchange
Months 3-9: Planning the network
Months 10-15: Installation

Openreach will be using the £2.5billion committed by BT to make superfast fibre broadband available to two- thirds of the homes in Britain by 2014.

Superfast fibre broadband comes in two flavours:
  • A part fibre, part copper infrastructure (Fibre to the Cabinet) capable of delivering download speeds of up to 40Mbit/s now – and up to 80Mbit/s during 2012 – and upload speeds of up to 15Mbit/s
  • A pure fibre infrastructure (Fibre to the Premises) capable of delivering download speeds of 100Mbit/s now – with 300Mbit/s coming in the future – and upload speeds of 30Mbit/s.
Openreach is solely responsible for providing, maintaining and improving the network that connects your home or office to the telephone exchange that serves you. We don’t sell the communications services like broadband that run over the network. Only a communications provider can do that. There are 450 of them around the country. So there’s plenty of choice.

We’re installing a pure fibre optic network at the greenfield development at Ebbsfleet in Kent, where the first occupants are already able to download information at a blistering 100Mbit/s! When completed, Ebbsfleet will be the UK’s first mass scale pure fibre optic network, serving 10,000 homes and businesses.

We're currently upgrading 2,400-3,000 cabinets a quarter and connecting between 100,000 and 150,000 premises with fibre every week. That means we're increasing the reach of superfast fibre to as many premises as there are in the whole of Singapore – every three months.

The local access network covers 30 million customers and 8 million broadband lines from approximately 5,500 local exchanges. 300 million telephone calls and 350 million internet connections are made across this network every day.

We're investing £2.5 billion to upgrade the local access network, bringing superfast fibre broadband within reach of two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by 2014.

But it's not easy. We have to lay 3 million km of fibre across the UK and install 50,000 new cabinets serving 3 million distribution points.

Why is everyone talking about fibre?

The current communications network has been built on copper and it'll continue to play an important role for some time to come. It's still the gold standard for voice, connecting around 23 million lines in the UK. And it can carry information at speeds of up to 20Mbit/s in a digital format. So it's no slouch itself.

Connecting the final third

Fibre, of one type or another, will connect at least two-thirds of homes and business in the UK in the next few years. But there are some areas – often more rural places – where it just isn't viable to introduce fibre.

Current broadband coverage in UK is 99.6 per cent. But about 160,000 lines have no access to broadband due to line length and 310,000 have limited access (up to 0.5Mbit/s only). So we're working to develop solutions that will help us achieve the government's Digital Britain target of a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbit/s for everyone in the UK.

One of the solutions we've been testing is Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) solution. BET can provide broadband services on long lines. It provides up to 1Mbit/s over a single pair of copper wires which can be boosted to 2Mbit/s with the addition of a second copper pair.

Our network spans the length and breadth of the country, and is connected to 26 million premises across the UK. We've over 21,000 field engineers out and about every day developing, monitoring, maintaining and – when needed – repairing it. And with £2.5 billion being invested in it, we're busier than ever.

Tue Jun 26:
Over 10 million homes already have access to fibre broadband and today’s news brings us another step closer to our goal of making it available to two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014. And hopefully we won’t stop there. We’re working with BDUK and local government and communities to try and give as many people as possible access to the benefits of fibre broadband.

It has led to the creation of the firm's Infinity offer which promises "up to" 40Mbps. The service was found to provide an average speed of 36Mbps.

Orange's "up to" 20Mbps ADSL service fared worst out of the maximum-speed offers surveyed. It was found to provide average download speeds of 7.2Mbps.

22 March 2012

More than eight million homes and businesses now have access to fibre and we’re aiming to make it available to around two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.

With 80/20 available from early April, you’ll have a chance to start selling the service from mid April onwards. It comes with an £80 connection charge and £9.95 monthly rental. Of course the current up to 40Mbit/s service will still be available so you can choose whether or not to offer the enhanced speeds.

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