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You may need to rethink plans to emigrate to Australia
Wednesday 10 April 2013 12:19:24 by Andrew Ferguson

Australia as an economy has generally been doing better than many countries, and one sign of this was the sums of money allocated to the National Broadband Network that has started to deliver under the auspices of the current Labor Government. The Federal Election that takes place on 14th September 2013 may result in a complete change of direction based on what the opposition coalition are now saying.

The Register covers the basics, which are that the largely FTTP based network (with some satellite and fixed wireless) would switch to using a Fibre to the Node (FTTC) system, essentially VDSL2. This switch comes with the promise that by 2016 this would deliver 25 Mbps to 'all' Australians, with further upgrades to 50 Mbps by 2019. Interestingly the issue of those properties too far from the nearest cabinet are apparently in line for a full fibre connection and taking a leaf out of the BT handbook, in other areas people will be able to pay extra install costs to receive a full FTTP connection if they desire.

The goal of the Labor government was originally to get FTTP to 93% of Australians and the roll-out to date has shown that the bulk of premises covered so far by the network have been via satellite based services, i.e. the very rural areas. 72,4000 homes were passed by the FTTP network, with 11,400 actually buying a service.

It will now be interesting to see whether the two options actually form a major part of the campaigning, and most importantly will the winner of the election actually keep to their promise or dilute their plans. The new coalition plan is supposed to be two years faster to deploy and if the rhetoric is to be believed at one third of the cost of the current NBN FTTP plan.

BT now who have had their FTTC plan for some years, with the option to upgrade to FTTP launching in a couple of weeks will feel vindicated, as another nation potentially agrees with them on FTTC being a cost effective solution for rapid deployment. The real unanswered question both here in the UK and Australia is what will be the costs in 5 to 10 years time when the next wave of upgrades are needed. As things stand it may be that we see fibre getting closer to the home, but still not inside the home, as the solution can be used to bring the fibre close to a home, but avoid the need for that final 50m of work to bring it indoors.

Of course Fibre the Premises/Home is the real solution, the question is who pays for it, and how long it will take to roll-out to the swathes of the UK and other countries that would benefit the most. The reluctance of operators like BT and Virgin Media to widely roll-out FTTP is something that leaves room for smaller, more agile operators to deploy and grow in the next couple of years.


Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
Even only rolling out FTTC I wouldn't reconsider plans to emigrate out of this country if it were feasible for a moment.
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
So they are making a mistake here... REMOVE THE COPPER once the FTTP connection is available, and you immediately have 100% take-up... I am with Dixinormous and have taken the first steps to getting out of here...
Posted by c_j_ over 4 years ago
So the slow progress and cost overrun is nothing to do with awarding significant parts of the work to a certain outfit initially proposing to run fibre down the sewers, who then failed to deliver? [H2O, Fibrecity, i3, who cares, it's the same outfit]

Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
Running it in sewers is stupid... There are no sewers in rural locations... If there is nothing, run your distribution trunks with power cables. There are VERY few homes in the UK that does not have power... There is an outfit that has made a machine that wraps the fibre around high voltage power cables... Just saying is all... Also, since it is fibre optic, the power lines will not interfere like it will do with copper phone lines... If the utilities can just learn to work together, it would be so much better. BTW, I am including the roads in utilities...
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
vicdupreez , one of the northern power companies looked at using the power lines, can't remember what happened but it was a no go.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago

Scottish Power in the above, SSE were the other interested group
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
GMAN99 - HV with fibre wrap - used for a lot of backbone, but not many homes are served by that.

You may be thinking of the PLC which used the metal cable itself to carry an RF signal
Posted by c_j_ over 4 years ago
Freeserve started life many years ago as an opportunity to sell unused fibre capacity on the UK's 400kV national supergrid.

SSE Telecom's 'broadband from your substation' never came close to the "full commercial rollout" which SSE's Keith Maclean was forever talking about. He could never explain the economics or the technology in any real detail (eg how to affordably get enough bandwidth between your substation and the core network).

H2O in Australia were allegedly going to be doing Brisbane, how rural would that be?
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
Definitely not thinking about Broadband over power lines... The issue there is that it interferes with baseband radio.

Think about it though... Fibre wrapped around the HV cables to the substation, then wrapped around the cable to your home, if it is above ground which most of them are. In rural locations they will bury around 300m of it, but hey, what it is going to cost to dig a trench of 300m if it means you get full fibre to the house?
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Suggest you read up on Energis, which tried this a decade or so ago, at least for the trunk network. IIRC there were problems with exposure to the elements though, and access for repair was difficult on the HV towers.
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
Fair enough. Fibre has come a long way in 10 years. Maybe worth another look.
Posted by Mikebear over 4 years ago
Whatever they decide it seems a lot of people are unhappy with the size and design of cabinets.
See this from The Age newspaper :-
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
LOL. Apparently the cabinets are the size of a portaloo. Talk about political spin!

They're going to install 60,000, to cover a max of 10 million lines. That's 166 lines into each one, assuming 100% takeup.
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
Fibre wrapped around HV lines? A maintenance nightmare that would make me shudder!
Posted by c_j_ over 4 years ago
"Fibre wrapped around HV lines? A maintenance nightmare that would make me shudder! "

The way it worked on the 400kV supergrid is that as well as the "phase" conductors, there is also an "earth" conductor, and the fibre went with that. Still not trivial though.

Ref: (an IEE not IEEE article from the days when the IEE knew how to produce technical content but not how to get it on the Interweb. Now it's the other way round)
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago

Again with the assuming 100% take-up. The plan in Aus was / is to remove the copper once the fibre is in and working. This is so that they can sell the copper and make some of the install costs back. This is also the ONLY way to guarantee 100% take-up.
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
oops... sorry... Cut your name off WWWombat.
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