Monday, 10 June 2013

NBN: Why Fibre? What it does better than Copper.

Bits are agnostic, they don't care what medium they travel over: wireless of any kind, HFC, Fibre, ADSL, VDSL, ethernet, infrared, power lines or dial-up modem.

One of the arguments against a direct Fibre to the Premises network is "anything you can do, I can do better, or at least as well", or, restated, if people want 25Mbps and VDSL gives it to them and its cheaper, then why wouldn't they go for the "sooner, cheaper and more affordable option"?

An FTTP means:
  • immunity from Thunderstorms and electricity leakage Less damage and danger.
  • higher bandwidth per link (forty times), with less excess capacity required to be installed, subscribers won't be denied service from fully utilised infrastructure:
    • subscriber don't require extra premise connections for increased bandwidth or multiple connections.
    • running out of pairs on the local loop and ports in DSLAMs is common with the copper network. This is extremely expensive to address and often never happens. This is a well-known problem with the copper Customer Access Network
  • predictable and guaranteed speeds: if you're connected, you can get the full range of services.
    • This is critical for employer or agency supplied networks, e.g. Schools and University.
  • guaranteed upload speeds
  • guaranteed low latency and network/traffic prioritisation for Real Time services, such as Telephony and high-quality audio or teleconferencing.
  • lower congestion without peak-hour latency "traffic jams" due to larger FSAM's with upgradeable uplinks. We know from the Gungahlin Experiment that nodes are particularly susceptible to under-diminsioned uplinks or saturated backplanes, both of which wi
  • in-place upgrades to higher speeds with newer technology
  • lower maintenance and no major upgrade hurdles.
Guaranteed link speeds and uniform subscriber equipment means:
  • multicast, necessary for the much cheaper & more efficient broadcast services, works as designed using the NBN Co infrastructure directly.
  • A single wholesale pure-digital telephone system, eliminating inefficient & costly equipment and systems duplication.
    • This will remove a large deadweight cost from Telephone charges.
    • It will allow new, affordable and innovative Telephony products to be sold to businesses and premium phone users:
      • internal PABX's won't be needed. All switching can be done more cheaply via the NBN.
      • lower call and trunk costs.
      • seamless integration of multi-medium calls, especially from a smartphone: You can start a call from home via WiFi. move to the car using 3G/4G, then to a nanocell hotspot, back to 3G/4G, then to the office with WiFi, seamlessly and reliably.
  • Off-peak mega-speed plans become possible for home, SOHO and SME backups.
    • Backing up servers at 400Mbps (160GB per hour) allows Terrabyte drives to be copied or backed up cheaply & easily overnight without impacting normal operations of the customer network. This is at the lower-end of current demand.
    • Compare this to the current Telstra rate-card for 10Mbps (forty times slower) symmetrical services: $7,931/month for 'unlimited' usage or just 2.5TB, maximum. 100GB/mth is $1,870/mth with $8 per GB after that. 850GB per month is the break-over point to 'unlimited'.
    • versus ~$100/month for 40Mbps and 1TB currently with ISP NBN services.
    • The NBN Co plan is to halve their download volume charges every 3 years, hopefully this will be reflected in ISP/RSP plans. Things will only get better from here, especially for micro and small businesses.
On top of that, the "Bring Your own Device" Coalition policy has very significant downsides for the service providers. It is the worst possible engineering design.

For the Network Operator, NBN Co, and Retail Providers, ISPs/RSPs, a pure-digital network with uniform Network Termination Devices (NTDs) under their full control is essential for properly running their network:
  • Remote end-to-end line testing is possible simply and transparently.
  • Firmware upgrades can be done securely, efficiently and frequently. This is the minimum necessary for a high reliability and secure, dependable network.
  • If all premises have the same networking capabilities, 2-phone and 4-data, the Provisioning and Operations systems are much simpler and less error-prone.
    • From the Telstra HFC network, we know that software control systems can and do seriously degrade and become dysfunctional.
  • Remote monitoring, control, supervision and administration/provisioning of all network devices, especially end-points (NTDs in Customer Premises) is the minimum now required to run large, complex digital networks.
  • IPv6 (version 6 of the IP protocols) can be uniformly & transparently implemented. This will soon become a necessary migration.
  • Automatic response against a concerted Network attack is only possible with a single, known network infrastructure.
    • An "Internet Kill Switch" can be simply and effectively implemented, allowing rapid response to intentional or accidental network attacks or Denial of Service.
    • individual NTDs, or groups of them, can be monitored and controlled in real-time to stop, slow or mitigate the propagation of Worms and malware.
    • Post-event replay, necessary for detailed analysis, is possible by collecting NTD log files.

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