The LNP NBN plan and things I’m wondering about

This might be a long post.

I’ll admit I haven’t (as of 11/4/2013) read through the “background documents” that the LNP policy is apparently based on. I’m not actually sure I know where they even are at the moment. I’ll try to find the time and answer my own questions, on the off-chance anyone else reads this and has answers, I’m happy to hear them (and link to sources please).

I did read the actual LNP Policy statement though, and to me (and most others) it didn’t really reveal any new details that haven’t already been speculated on. There are only so many options when you are limited to “anything except what our opponents are doing”. What it does do though is “lock-in” the intentions of the LNP and allow specific critique rather than the vague “bit of this bit of that” guesses of what they might propose.

What happened to wireless everywhere?

So firstly, here’s a thing missing that I haven’t seen anyone mention: What happened to “fixed cable bad, wireless good”?

I am pretty sure I remember it being mentioned numerous times by Malcolm that fixed wireless all over the place was the way to go. Coz you know, fibre is obsolete and wireless is the future. Never mind the total lack of explanations to people about the significant differences between “fixed wireless” and “mobile wireless”. To the lay-person, wireless in this context meant what they have with their mobile phone. Something they would be able to use anywhere. It seemed Malcolm was happy not to correct anyone on this misunderstanding.

There was a lot of angst over the thought that to provide sufficient spectrum, coverage, and bandwidth, every second telegraph pole would need an nbn wireless station attached. With power, and its own fibre connection btw.

This whole idea appears to have been abandoned, and the existing NBNCo version of fixed wireless will be adopted and continued in exactly the same way NBNCo is already planning to implement it under the Labor NBN.

Stuff that I don’t have answers for

Let’s establish some of the key points I’m commenting on

http://www.liberal.org.au/fast-affordable-sooner-coalitions-plan-better-nbn

http://nbnmyths.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/fttn-speed-graph.gif

  • Minimum 25Mb/sec, up to 100 by end of 2016
  • Minimum 50Mb/sec, up to 100Mb by 2019
  • Estimated 60,000 FTTN Node cabinets required

So onto the actual current proposal and the things I’m wondering:

  1. Current DSLAMs only provide services “up to” 25Mb, and then only for people living in a tent in the foyer of their exchange. To guarantee a *minimum* of 25MB, then that would assume ALL existing DSLAMs need to be upgraded?
  2. Anyone not currently getting 25Mb (seriously vast majority) will require a FTTN Node cabinet to be installed less than 500m away from them. So that implies that to give everyone that minimum, all 60,000 (if that is enough) of those nodes need to be installed by end of 2016?
  3. To provide 50+ speeds by 2019, will that mean more nodes are needed to provide closer connections, or will all nodes needed for the 2019 capability be installed during the “end of 2016” phase? To reach minimum 50mb implies a node is only 250 metres away!
  4. To reach 100Mb speed would require the node cabinet to be sitting out the front on your nature strip
  5. *IF* we assume
    1. a deal with Telstra can be made the day after the election
    2. that the cost-benefit analysis is completed within a month or two
    3. the restructure of NBNCo only takes a few more months, and
    4. that all construction contracts, council approvals, site planning etc can be conducted in maybe one or two more
    5. then that leaves 2.5 years (being generous) to install 60,000 Node cabinets by end of 2016
  6. So to install that’s:
    1. 60,000 / 30 months = 2,000 per month = 65.75 cabinets a day every day, 365 days a year.
    2. That involves site prep, laying foundations, running fibre from the exchange, running power, installing the cabinet, cutting and reconnecting all the copper to the new cabinet. For each of those cabinets, each day.
  7. Under Labor NBN plan, Optus and Foxtel will receive compensation to have their existing HFC cables shutdown. Will iiNet and AAPT (and others) receive compensation for all their ADSL DSLAM equipment that they installed when it can no longer be used with FTTN?
  8. If vectoring is key to reaching these FTTN speeds (which I believe it is) then is our copper even capable of doing that? Even if it is a pristine pair? In Germany they built/updated their copper to handle ISDN services, Telstra only ever built it for basic voice capacity. Can our copper loops even physically do what is being asked of them even if it is in good condition? Pair bonding is pretty much out of the question as Telstra has stated numerous times that free pairs are practically non-existent, hence the reason many are stuck on RIMs
  9. Will the “new” NBNCo own the cabling and cabinets, or will those be installed, owned, and rented back by whoever (Telstra?) builds it all?
  10. Is “line-rental” still going to be a cost-component of a service connected to the FTTN network? The prices seem to be very specific about the broadband price only. Are the prices the LNP is suggesting inclusive of line-rental, is it not relevant, or will that be extra?
  11. There are many small town that are considered too small for Labors NBN fibre and will be getting fixed wireless or satellite. Malcolm mentioned that with FTTN many of these towns could now get VDSL instead. He is (technically) absolutely correct on this point, however that doesn’t seem to be stated in his plan. He still has the same percentage of people on wireless/satelite services as the Labor NBN, so why if more people can get fixed instead or wireless did the percentage not indicate less wireless than Labors NBN?
  12. Perhaps a minor point of pedantry, but there is nothing in the key points that the high speeds only apply to FTTN, not to wireless and satellite connections. Or is the plan to have minimum 25 and then 50mb connections on those as well?

So, if I come across the answers to any of these questions, I’ll update the post. In the meantime, I’m going to start hoarding any spare bandwidth I don’t use each month and saving it up for later.

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