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NBN has abandoned Canberra

Kim Fischer 24 January 2017 52

National Broadband Network

The Christmas and New Year break has long been a preferred time of year for government agencies to deliver unpopular news. However, NBN Co has taken this practice one step further than usual.

Knowing that an update for the rollout plan on the National Broadband Network could be delayed no further, NBN Co quietly removed the plan altogether from its website just before Christmas. Its new “interactive search tool” makes it much harder to compare the old rollout schedule with the new one.

Once you manually collate the dates, the truth is damning: Nearly all of the ACT has been pushed to the very back of the NBN’s revised rollout schedule.

  • See ACT NBN Co Rollout Delays broken down by suburb here.

When meeting residents during the ACT election campaign last year, it would be no exaggeration to say that access to the NBN was one of the top issues raised with me.

Just 14 months ago, NBN Co was predicting that 18 of Belconnen’s 25 suburbs would have commenced NBN construction by now. Instead, all residents of Belconnen will now have to wait until at least June 2019 to receive access. Weston Creek has also been moved to the very back of the pack, as have as over half of the suburbs of Woden Valley and central Canberra.

Tuggeranong has been finally given a scheduled date for NBN availability, but this is the same “magical” date of June 2019 that fully half of all Canberra suburbs have been assigned.

Given that NBN Co had connected less than 50% of Canberra’s promised suburbs by the end of 2016, healthy scepticism about the these forecast dates seems wise. Indeed, based on current delays and rescheduling of dates the rollout of the NBN in the ACT isn’t likely to be completed until 2025.

Residents in Dunlop remain stuck on the decade-old ADSL technology. No telecommunications company is going to invest in improving fixed-line connectivity when the NBN is continually “about to be installed” everywhere.

The Federal Government’s complete lack of interest in prioritising robust broadband for its largely Canberra-based public servants is baffling. Recent studies show that the productivity benefits of telecommuting to an organisation can be worth up to 20% of an employee’s wages due to lower absenteeism, higher morale, more hours worked, improved access to highly qualified parents needing more workplace flexibility, and more productive hours worked due to fewer office distractions. But a prerequisite for effective teleworking is access to fast and reliable broadband services.

Delivering the NBN earlier in Canberra would unlock productivity benefits and cost savings, but unfortunately the Federal Government doesn’t appear to recognise the financial benefits of that outcome.


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Chris Mordd Richards 2:12 am 02 Feb 17

Considering the price of 4G data to 3G data at the moment, I dread to know what the per GB charge for 5G data will start at, probably around $40 or so per GB I would guess. It might be faster, but it comes at a price, and has a diminishing value the more concurrent users accessing that network tower. It’s a great supplementary technoglogy, but still requires fibre from the tower to the rest of the network anyway, we won’t do away with physical cable backhaul for a very long time still (decades or more).

JC 12:22 pm 01 Feb 17

dungfungus said :

I don’t think connecting cells to support mobile broadband is part of the NBN plan as you have alluded to so it won’t happen for a while.

It’s not. This technology is mobile phone technology which NBN has no interest in. That is still very much the domain of the legacy carriers.

Whole idea of NBN was to have one company rollout the core infrastructure and open that up to all and sundry to provide services to the community over.

Without an NBN type organisation, no one would get a service because all the infrastructure would have to be duplicated for every competing service provider, and even then they would only cherry pick the areas that would make the most amount of money. NBN was a leveller. IMO when Telstra was sold off it should have been split down into retail and infrastructure lines with the infrastructure side doing more or less what NBN is now. Building and owning the assets in the street, and opening that to retail competition. Only real way it could work in a country like ours.

JC 12:15 pm 01 Feb 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

I just read an article today saying that Telstra has tested a new generation wireless broadband technology, Gigabit LTE running on the 5G network. This technology apparently has incredible speeds of up to 900Mbps, faster than NBN.
It doesn’t seem Telstra has any info on this in their plans, but unless the costs of their wireless broadband get drastically reduced, it won’t be a viable competitor to NBN. Until we see more fiber in the ground though, there won’t be any competition in a lot of areas for many years to come. In that respect I bet we will see Telstra maintain their grip on the fast speed broadband monopoly for quite some time. This also means a lot of people will be paying exuberant prices for the speed they want.
It will remain to be seen if this will have any impact on the rest of the wireless network in terms of congestion, as more people use more data than ever before.

Mobile data is all well and good, but will not be a replacement for fixed line broadband. Core reason is simple, the speed figures that get quoted are a single user on what is actually on a shared medium. So in ‘real life’ the maximum 900mb/s then gets divided up by the number of people using it. And like WiFi speeds are all theoretical, as the moment you start moving away from the cell you maximum speeds drop off. So next to impossible to ever get maximum speeds, except in a lab or commissioning environment.

So wireless is great for mobile devices, but not so great for houses.

Also out of interest this is NOT faster than NBN (Fibre) which is what an article I read claimed. NBN fibre uses GPON, which is already Gigabit to the house, however few RSP’s offer a service higher than 100mb/s because NBN charge an exorbitant CVC fee for the backhaul from the FAN to the POI for higher speed circuits. Some do however. The reason for the higher charge is above 100mb/s NBN believes you are conducting a business of some sort and hence should pay more. Maybe not a totally unfair assumption.

Plus mentioned it above NBN (fibre) was designed to also have separate IP, phone and video providers too, which all use the same gigabit fibre back to the FAN. The Network Termination Deveices (NTD) that NBN install are capable of 4x network ports, 2 analogue voice ports, and not well known are capable, with the installation of a daughter card with a TV antenna connection of providing video streaming too. Though think for the time being NBN has abandoned the hope of streaming TV. The plan was for local FTA TV to be inserted at the POI, but with fibre all but being abandoned there is not point developing this further as TFFN is not capable of this.

And getting OT, Transact fibre used to offer this, and the estates where Transact fibre was provided had a NO external antenna policy, but when Transact sold out to NBN, and the Transact equipment was replaced all those people then had to get antenna installed to watch TV.

NBN Fibre to the node, different story…. Single service over crappy copper, where you would be lucky to get 100mb/s.

dungfungus 9:11 am 01 Feb 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

I just read an article today saying that Telstra has tested a new generation wireless broadband technology, Gigabit LTE running on the 5G network. This technology apparently has incredible speeds of up to 900Mbps, faster than NBN.
It doesn’t seem Telstra has any info on this in their plans, but unless the costs of their wireless broadband get drastically reduced, it won’t be a viable competitor to NBN. Until we see more fiber in the ground though, there won’t be any competition in a lot of areas for many years to come. In that respect I bet we will see Telstra maintain their grip on the fast speed broadband monopoly for quite some time. This also means a lot of people will be paying exuberant prices for the speed they want.
It will remain to be seen if this will have any impact on the rest of the wireless network in terms of congestion, as more people use more data than ever before.

There has been talk like this of new developments in wireless broadband technology recently and it is surprising that Telstra are not commenting on introducing it until at least the next generation 5G systems.

It won’t be commercially viable unless it is available everywhere and this would mean all cells would have to connected to fibre optic cable to handle the higher speeds.

I don’t think connecting cells to support mobile broadband is part of the NBN plan as you have alluded to so it won’t happen for a while.

wildturkeycanoe 8:04 am 01 Feb 17

I just read an article today saying that Telstra has tested a new generation wireless broadband technology, Gigabit LTE running on the 5G network. This technology apparently has incredible speeds of up to 900Mbps, faster than NBN.
It doesn’t seem Telstra has any info on this in their plans, but unless the costs of their wireless broadband get drastically reduced, it won’t be a viable competitor to NBN. Until we see more fiber in the ground though, there won’t be any competition in a lot of areas for many years to come. In that respect I bet we will see Telstra maintain their grip on the fast speed broadband monopoly for quite some time. This also means a lot of people will be paying exuberant prices for the speed they want.
It will remain to be seen if this will have any impact on the rest of the wireless network in terms of congestion, as more people use more data than ever before.

JC 2:29 pm 31 Jan 17

JC said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Here NBN hands off to the RSP’s network (read ISP’s).

Second time i’ve been forced to google a technical acronym from the comments here, and I am damn techie who used to do phone tech support for ISP’s and POTS (plain old telephone service) and I should know them all already.

Except our NBN Co. likes being different it seems:
RSP: Retail Service Provider, an end-user supplier for the Australian National Broadband Network

AKA an ISP yes. Do we really need our own term for that? Jeez Louise!

I think you will find the reason for the different term is because on NBN you also have choice of voice supplier. RSP covers ISP and voice supplier. Though reality with bundling etc they will be mostly one in the same anyway.

Plus also forgot to say NBN (fibre) was also set-up to provide separate video over IP services too. Separate in so far as you could go to a separate service provider for your video services. None of course have ever been set-up, though do note Foxtel are now selling Fox over IP, but over their own Internet service, not as a separate service.

Chris Mordd Richards 12:00 pm 31 Jan 17

JC said :

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Here NBN hands off to the RSP’s network (read ISP’s).

Second time i’ve been forced to google a technical acronym from the comments here, and I am damn techie who used to do phone tech support for ISP’s and POTS (plain old telephone service) and I should know them all already.

Except our NBN Co. likes being different it seems:
RSP: Retail Service Provider, an end-user supplier for the Australian National Broadband Network

AKA an ISP yes. Do we really need our own term for that? Jeez Louise!

I think you will find the reason for the different term is because on NBN you also have choice of voice supplier. RSP covers ISP and voice supplier. Though reality with bundling etc they will be mostly one in the same anyway.

So there is no existing industry term to cover this already? RSP seems to be AU only from what I can work out. We can’t be the first ones to need to differentiate providers like that, surely there is another existing term more appropriate than just making up new ones?

dungfungus 10:55 am 31 Jan 17

JC said :

gazket said :

How could anyone roll out the NBN at a decent speed with no money ? Remember ACT and federal Labor have already spent our taxes for the next 50 years.

The NBN wasn’t funded from the budget it was set up more or less on commercial terms and bonds with it to pay for itself coupled with sell off once complete.

And the cost has blown out under Turnbull. Would have been cheaper and better result to have let labors NBN plan cone to fruition which would have also made it more attaactive to sell later.

Secondly story in paper yesterday showing federal Libs have more or less doubled the rate of increase on the national debit. In other words not only are they not saving any money (and you could blame cross bench for opppsing their savings measures) but they have actually increased spending and reduced income. But Labor’s fault, hey?

You are correct about how it is being funded but as far as I know there are no specific bond issues that refer to the NBN so it comes out of aggregate borrowings so no one knows how much it is really costing.

Agree mostly with you comments about the national debt and the coalitions attempts to rein it in have definitely been thwarted by the cross benches (in which case the government should resign/keep calling elections to resolve the problem).

But Labor started the rot and in creating grand social schemes like NDIS and Gonski without explaining (and their media mates not asking) where the money would come from.

Also, the apathy of some Australians (and their political advocates) refusing to have even a piddly $5 co-payment for means tested “free” medical services has to be challenged. I don’t know what your arrangements are but everytime I go to my GP I make a co-payment of about $45.

The NBN will not save the financial Armageddon about to hit Australia.

JC 10:14 am 31 Jan 17

gazket said :

How could anyone roll out the NBN at a decent speed with no money ? Remember ACT and federal Labor have already spent our taxes for the next 50 years.

The NBN wasn’t funded from the budget it was set up more or less on commercial terms and bonds with it to pay for itself coupled with sell off once complete.

And the cost has blown out under Turnbull. Would have been cheaper and better result to have let labors NBN plan cone to fruition which would have also made it more attaactive to sell later.

Secondly story in paper yesterday showing federal Libs have more or less doubled the rate of increase on the national debit. In other words not only are they not saving any money (and you could blame cross bench for opppsing their savings measures) but they have actually increased spending and reduced income. But Labor’s fault, hey?

JC 10:08 am 31 Jan 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

JC said :

Here NBN hands off to the RSP’s network (read ISP’s).

Second time i’ve been forced to google a technical acronym from the comments here, and I am damn techie who used to do phone tech support for ISP’s and POTS (plain old telephone service) and I should know them all already.

Except our NBN Co. likes being different it seems:
RSP: Retail Service Provider, an end-user supplier for the Australian National Broadband Network

AKA an ISP yes. Do we really need our own term for that? Jeez Louise!

I think you will find the reason for the different term is because on NBN you also have choice of voice supplier. RSP covers ISP and voice supplier. Though reality with bundling etc they will be mostly one in the same anyway.

dungfungus 9:14 am 31 Jan 17

gazket said :

How could anyone roll out the NBN at a decent speed with no money ? Remember ACT and federal Labor have already spent our taxes for the next 50 years.

But, err, doesn’t money grow on trees? All the governments have to do is plant more trees, isn’t it?

Chris Mordd Richards 2:26 am 31 Jan 17

JC said :

Here NBN hands off to the RSP’s network (read ISP’s).

Second time i’ve been forced to google a technical acronym from the comments here, and I am damn techie who used to do phone tech support for ISP’s and POTS (plain old telephone service) and I should know them all already.

Except our NBN Co. likes being different it seems:
RSP: Retail Service Provider, an end-user supplier for the Australian National Broadband Network

AKA an ISP yes. Do we really need our own term for that? Jeez Louise!

gazket 10:17 pm 30 Jan 17

How could anyone roll out the NBN at a decent speed with no money ? Remember ACT and federal Labor have already spent our taxes for the next 50 years.

JC 11:52 am 30 Jan 17

Arthur Davies said :

J C’s comments are very interesting. I know that Transact installed 2 new cables from the pole (& I assume from the nearest node) to each customer, abandoning the existing old phone cable, one new cable was dedicated to the new phone, the other to data & cable TV. In my area the original phone cables were put in around 1952 & had never been replaced/upgraded, they were very unreliable & failed each time it rained. This unreliability was a major factor in my changing to Transact. The original phone cables, where they still exist, will certainly be quite unsuitable for a data connection & would have to be replaced for broadband.

I assumed the optical cable went from the nodes to the exchange, but maybe they go to a separate Transact distribution point. In any case it is a much smaller & cheaper option to connect Transact’s distribution point to the NBN system than to wire up the whole suburb from scratch.

iinet does own Transact’s network now so it would have to be taken over to become part of NBN. The Commonwealth has the power to take over an asset at any time so long as it pays just compensation, they do it with homes & farms all the time. Given that Transacts network is now years old, depreciation (which the company will have claimed in their tax return I am sure) will have substantially reduced its value. The fact that they have not chosen to do this shows me that they have another agenda, one which does the ACT no good at all.

Another problem is iinet’s refusal to allow any other provider to use their cables, so unfortunate customers are effectively forced to use iinet only. iinet are not offering good service as shown by the high number of complains to the communication ombudsman. I assume that their action constitutes a restraint on trade but no one is interested in investigating/prosecuting them for this, one has to ask why not & in whose interest it is to ignore the trade practices legislation. The fact that it is occurring in the ACT is surely a major factor.

Arthur, will dispel a few alternative-truths there.

Firstly Transact is an open access network and there are ISP’s other iiNET who can provide service. So not sure where you get this restraint of trade idea from. Sure the selection isn’t great and a couple of the companies were Transact owned, but still very much open access. So not sure your rant about restraint of trade etc, and even if they weren’t open access if you were a company that invested money into infrastructure why should you be forced to then allow others to use it?

Anyway see below for list of Transact ISP’s.

https://www.transact.com.au/internet/vdsl2

Also the way it works is quite simple.

When Tansact rolled out to suburba (forgetting their apartment network for a moment) what they did was install their nodes in the street and then strung new multicore copper along the power poles. Quick and easy, hence why they didn’t venture into underground areas like Gungahlin or southern Tuggeraning. Then when someone wanted a service they would send a tech around who would install a new cable from the pole to the house. Never seen two separate Transact cables, but the Telstra cable was left installed. Sometimes inside the house they would cut the Telstra cable and join the Transact cable to negate the need for them to install a new socket (lazyness IMO).

Then from the node it was fibre to Transact house in Civic where the data was then separated into the various ISP’s.

Their fibre to the basement model is similar except the node is in the basement and they use the buildings internal wiring to get to the customers premises.

In the NBN world it is similar.

If it is fibre to the premises, the fibre goes from the house to fibre access node (FAN), which mostly would be housed in a Telstra exchange. Though not necessarily the same exchange that provide phone to the same house, NBN only planned to use about half the number. The FAN houses the active equipment that drives the fibre. The FAN then connects via backhaul links to one of about 120 points of interconnect around the country. In the ACT region there is one in Civic (north of lake) and one in QBN (south of lake). Here NBN hands off to the RSP’s network (read ISP’s).

The main reason for this is to limit the number of places that RSP’s need to provide service to access the NBN system. Under the current ADSL model ISP’s need to have a connection to every exchange area they wish to service, which can be expensive or they buy off Telstra wholesale which is also expensive. Under NBN they limited the number of POI’s to encourage smaller players into the market.

Interestingly some people complain about NBN speed, well the main cause of that is between the FAN and POI the RSP’s need to buy backhaul bandwidth off NBN, and many of the smaller players in particular don’t buy enough for peak demand. So your 100/40 service might be good at 2am, but at 6pm forget it. But people blame NBN not their RSP. Go figure.

On the NBN fibre to the node model, what happens is NBN installs node in the street, takes ownership (and cost of maintenance) of Telstra copper. Then when customer orders a service their Telstra service is disconnected and the physical line connected to the node.

The node connects via fibre to one of the fibre access nodes, then like FTTP back to the POI and the customers choice of service provider. In theory the node has spare fibres which can be extended to a customers premises at ridiculous cost. But not enough for every house.

NBN has also brought Telstras HFC (Coax network), and here it works much the same as fibre to the node. In fact HFC is very much fibre to the node, just using coax rather than twisted pair copper.

Interestingly in greenfield development the developer can go to their choice of provider, they are not forced to go to NBN. Some that come to mind are Telstra and Opticom. Though my understanding is any provider also needs to be an open access provider, and NBN won’t overbuild.

Which gets back to Transact and Canberra, does seem odd that Transact is open access and NBN is planning to overbuild. Would have thought it would be excluded like in greenfields.

And as much as I like to bag the current government, I don’t think they have an agenda when it comes to Transact. I just think they are clueless and Transact is small fry. And whilst the network is years old, it has been upgraded so not sure your point about the cost. End of the day if TPG/iiNET doesn’t want to sell they cannot be easily forced to sell either.

dungfungus 11:30 pm 29 Jan 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

Arthur Davies said :

I assume that their action constitutes a restraint on trade but no one is interested in investigating/prosecuting them for this

Their restraint on trade as you call it, is a perfectly legal capitalist monopoly, like exists in any other industry in our country. If you want to change that, stop voting for LNP or Labor.

It doesn’t matter who you vote for anymore. Global financial collapse is about to happen again. Marx was right.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/marx-was-right-five-surprising-ways-karl-marx-predicted-2014-20140130

Chris Mordd Richards 9:41 pm 29 Jan 17

Arthur Davies said :

I assume that their action constitutes a restraint on trade but no one is interested in investigating/prosecuting them for this

Their restraint on trade as you call it, is a perfectly legal capitalist monopoly, like exists in any other industry in our country. If you want to change that, stop voting for LNP or Labor.

Arthur Davies 2:07 pm 29 Jan 17

J C’s comments are very interesting. I know that Transact installed 2 new cables from the pole (& I assume from the nearest node) to each customer, abandoning the existing old phone cable, one new cable was dedicated to the new phone, the other to data & cable TV. In my area the original phone cables were put in around 1952 & had never been replaced/upgraded, they were very unreliable & failed each time it rained. This unreliability was a major factor in my changing to Transact. The original phone cables, where they still exist, will certainly be quite unsuitable for a data connection & would have to be replaced for broadband.

I assumed the optical cable went from the nodes to the exchange, but maybe they go to a separate Transact distribution point. In any case it is a much smaller & cheaper option to connect Transact’s distribution point to the NBN system than to wire up the whole suburb from scratch.

iinet does own Transact’s network now so it would have to be taken over to become part of NBN. The Commonwealth has the power to take over an asset at any time so long as it pays just compensation, they do it with homes & farms all the time. Given that Transacts network is now years old, depreciation (which the company will have claimed in their tax return I am sure) will have substantially reduced its value. The fact that they have not chosen to do this shows me that they have another agenda, one which does the ACT no good at all.

Another problem is iinet’s refusal to allow any other provider to use their cables, so unfortunate customers are effectively forced to use iinet only. iinet are not offering good service as shown by the high number of complains to the communication ombudsman. I assume that their action constitutes a restraint on trade but no one is interested in investigating/prosecuting them for this, one has to ask why not & in whose interest it is to ignore the trade practices legislation. The fact that it is occurring in the ACT is surely a major factor.

Futureproof 11:40 am 29 Jan 17

Yep, Queanbeyan has NBN. FTTP for me to boot. Move to Quangers. Cheaper house prices and NBN.

JC 7:20 pm 28 Jan 17

Arthur Davies said :

Firstly I am totally unsurprised, the feds consider Canberra bashing a good sport which gets them votes (they think) in the rest of Australia.

Our members are quite useless, I have seen no real agitation from either branch of the Laboral party, nor the greens.

Worse, a substancial chunk of Canberra was wired up by Transact years ago with “fibre to the node” & with new copper cables to the premises. This is the Govt’s current system. All it would require to connect these premises to NBN is a quick minor change at the exchange end, almost no cost & no field work is required at all. Yet we still have no NBN, given that it so cheap & quick to change over, one has to assume that the delay is purposeful & malicious.

After the vote at the last ACT election where the poor governance standards were rewarded by another term, there is no incentive to do anything. In fact given the ACT Govt’s “risk averse” policies & its look backwards to 1890s transport solutions, I am surprised we don’t have a network of strings with tin cans at each house! Unfortunately we can certainly not look forward our local polys getting exercised over this.

Two points. The change is a bit more substantial than a change at the exchange. In fact nothing needs doing at the exchange what it needs is to drop a new transact lead in to the house to the node. The whole idea of the node is it is in the street and bypasses the need for an ‘exchange’ Not hard of course.

But the biggest problem with your theory is transact is owned by a private company who is not selling the business. Though must admit I do wonder if the significant delay to parts of Canberra is so the (federal government) can somehow try and swing a sale as it is, appart from FTTP the most logical solution for Canberra.

dungfungus 8:29 am 28 Jan 17

JC said :

A Nonny Mouse said :

dungfungus said :


Trams are what we chose… I don’t recall anyone demanding our local Labor/Green government give us our own super-fast broadband…

Get over the ‘tram’ issue! And don’t conflate a local hobbyhorse with discussion of a federal matter. It is the Federal Govt. that is supposed to be doing the NBN. It is a local govt. issue only in as much as our local representatives can try to influence better outcomes from the Federal govt, as Kim Fisher is doing by writing this article.
The only benefit from coming last is that more of us might get proper fibre to the premises. My part of Cook was shown as commenced just before Abbott got in and Turnbull became the relevant minister. It really was commenced because I saw work being done on the ground – clearing and checking pits and conduits and so on. Then the election happened and it all stopped and we were no longer commenced on the map.

Correct they had started work on cook, Macquarie, Aranda and the Belconnen town centre. Then it just stopped.

Interestingly QBN was started around the same time and its rollout continued even to the point that after the technology change it was one of the few areas to have fibre to the home in brown fields areas. Only part of the QBN are to not have fibre will be the southern section of Jerra which is being done now.

Wonder what electorate QBN is in? Hmmm.

Queanbeyan is in swinging electorates. Canberra will never have that luxury.

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