back to article Sure, let's build the NBN with technology that's not proven at scale

Internet Australia's new National Broadband Network (NBN) policy advocates using a technology yet to be proven to work at scale. The organisation last week decided to update its policy from one I surmise as “never compromise: only fibre-to-the-premises will do” to advocating fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTDP) rollout as …

  1. rwerkh

    Reading this it seems that Akami's numbers indicate if anything the available streaming speed of the connections.

    The Ookla numbers indicate the speed of the connection under test conditions looking at throughput with a low load from other users on the connection.

    So they are measuring different speeds and therefore are useful for different things.

    If you want to know the linespeed averages the ookla numbers are an approximation. If you want to know throughput per application then Akami's numbers are the relevant ones.

    So yes quite reasonable to doubt Akami's numbers for the linespeed (and therefore arguably the FTTP deployment) vs acceptable throughput (and therefore maybe the argument for minimum requirements)

    This is not necessarily a contradictory position.

  2. Knoydart

    So El Reg now wants FTTP?

    I'm sorry Simon but please go read your own story and tell me why the hell are you now pushing for FTTP?

    Yes FTTDP is unproven and InternetAU has a view but your job as the fourth estate is to hold nbn co to account for its technology choices.

    1. ssharwood

      Re: So El Reg now wants FTTP?

      I'm not pushing FTTP. I say it's the preferred solution in the best possible world.

      nbn didn't make the technology choice: the government did with its "faster, cheaper" policy.

      I stand by the previous article because I believe and its successors offer sufficient service for the medium term. Once nbn is up and running, it can use cashflow to fund future upgrades.

      1. Jasonk

        Re: So El Reg now wants FTTP?

        How can you believe and its successors offer sufficient service medium for the medium term. When the copper it too long for it too work. Which requires a rebuild to work.

  3. RPG

    How can FTTDP be proven at scale? This is a question that doesn't need answering. The distribution point is at the end of a fibre cable connection that connects to a piece of copper coming from a premise. Maybe it could connect a few premises if they have a common distribution point close to each other such as a group of town houses.

    1. LAURIE PATTON | CEO Internet Australia

      Hi RGP,

      FTTdp is only a staging post. Advocating FTTdp is firstly about dumping copper in the distribution network, i.e. From the exchange to the premises. FTTN is a demonstrably inferior technological option because in due course the copper sections will need to be replaced. If you run fibre at least as far as the distribution point (aka fibre to the driveway) then those consumers who need or want higher speeds can, at any time, opt to have the line running from the distribution point into their premises upgraded to fibre. A full FTTP rollout is still what Internet Australia would prefer, but the current government will not go there.

  4. Tim Bates

    Akamai also pushes out some rather large files on a regular basis to most Windows boxes... Windows Update comes in through Akamai. Those don't cache well either, unlike those tiny little GIFs and such that every proxy and browser cache is filled with.

  5. MartyvH

    "But the organisation appears now to be advocating that we pause again and figure out how to do widespread FTTDP."

    Because we must. FTTN is a dead end. After completion of FTTN, there is no upgrade available or on the horizon, not even laboratory technologies. and both require FTTDP to get any improvement for more than around 50% of subscribers due to the line lengths that will simply be too long in Australia with FTTN.

    So we're facing another new NBN with a similar cost and similar time to build as the current one. That is such poor value for money. When you are still taking years to put something in the ground, make it worthwhile, worth the considerable time and expense that is incurred whatever the technology.

    Upgrades beyond FTTDP are easy, so much easier and less costly than with FTTN. There is credible speculation that Fibre On Demand would cost as little as $1000-2000 for most suburbs.

  6. MartyvH

    "The point of my inquiry was that if real world download experiences in two nations widely considered key competitors for Australia are making do with those speeds,"

    Average speeds and real world download experience are two completely different things. Anyone with a basic understanding of statistics knows that averages are an unreliable indicator of the experience of a significant percentage of subscribers. It is the nature of an average.

    Yes, Akamai et al's speed surveys are not the most reliable and methodology needs to improve.

    "why should we complain about an NBN capable of delivering 100Mbps?"

    All indications are that it is not capable of that for a large percentage of subscribers and reality is also that around 80% are settling on 25Mbps plans or lower, which is highly likely to be because of the prohibitively high cost of higher speeds alone. A glance at plan pricing shows that they are unaffordable for most Australians.

    "There's a bundle of contradiction right there, because in one paragraph Internet Australia argues both for a rebuild of the last 20m of copper and against any network configuration that requires rebuild."

    What a misinterpretation that was. There is no rebuild of the last 20m of copper being argued for. Laurie Patton was simply referring to the greatly enhanced ability for FTTDP to provide for Fibre On Demand, unlike FTTN which makes FOD a major undertaking and prohibitively costly in practice.

    The simple fact is that FTTN, after completion, will necessitate rebuild from the node closer to the premises to provide any speed improvement at all.

    "I've previously argued that in the best possible world, Australia would build its NBN with fibre-to-the-premises. I retain that position.

    "But I also despair that debate in the field is making that objective harder to reach."

    Current debate is not making any objective harder to reach within the NBN company and is certainly not changing the position of this government so far. In any case, there is not much debate about the need to be rolling out something better than what we are getting. Thank you for reading to the end :)

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