Senator Conroy SSCNBN

NBN Co changes the premises passed metric

Metric is now more conservative and relevant to service providers

During a Senate Budget Estimates hearing last night, NBN Co revealed that changes were made with respect to the way “premises passed” was defined in the weekly rollout statistics. NBN spokesperson, Andrew Sholl, said off the record yesterday on Twitter that these changes started in April this year and gives a clearer and more relevant weekly figure.

Traditionally, two metrics were used by NBN Co to describe the status of construction of their network — one being Ready for Service and Premises Passed. In the previous metric of “Premises Passed”, premises were considered to be passed once network testing was completed the Local Network servicing a particular cluster of premises. However, only once 90% of the premises are passed by NBN Co’s old metric is an FSAM declared “Ready for Service” and an order may be ordered.

A recent change to the metric has altered the way NBN Co reports the “Premises Passed” metric in it’s weekly rollout statistics. Rather than accounting premises as being “passed” when testing for the Local Network is completed, NBN Co will only account those premises as being “passed” when the local network servicing 90% of the premises in that particular rollout region is built and tested.

This changed metric provides a more conservative and potentially, more relevant metric for consumers and service providers. However, it also means that NBN Co’s weekly run-rate will become more angular as premises will be added in mass, rather than the progressive additions previously seen.

Talking with service providers, it appears that premises considered passed by not yet Ready for Service under previous metrics have remained classified as “passed”. Only new premises being added to the network are affected by this change of metric.

Drew Clarke at Senate Estimates

Ooops… Comms Department mistakes myNBN for myBroadband

Whoops…

When questioned about by Senator Pratt release of data by NBN Co today at the Senate Environment and Communications Legislative Committee earlier today, Drew Clarke, the Secretary of Department of Communications mistakenly said that:

myNBN is one of the department’s website. I’m very familiar with it.

It appears the secretary had mistaken the myBroadband website with the independent rollout tracking website myNBN.info, which incidentally existed prior to the communications department’s own website which was launched earlier this year. The secretary goes on to say:

And indeed, the underlying datasets in it are available on data.gov[.au].

In fact, if it was not for the confusion, this statement would be extremely inaccurate given that the datasets that underly the myNBN website have actually been removed by NBN Co since the change in Government. In fact, the datasets had been requested on data.gov.au to be reinstated, but has subsequently been dismissed by the Department of Communications itself.

A complaint letter has also been sent to the Department of Communications regarding their response to the data.gov.au, however, a response is yet to be received.

The Senate Hearings continue, with the Communications department appearing tomorrow afternoon and with NBN Co to front the committee tomorrow night.

Inside an NBN node at Umina Beach

NBN: Details of FTTN pilot emerge

Earlier today, NBN Co released the test agreement details for its Fibre to the Node pilot in Umina Beach, NSW and Epping, VIC. After initial delays with negotiation trial access to the copper with Telstra, NBN Co is set to commence the customer trials on or around 1st June 2014.

NBN Co will be conducting main deployment trials, one using a spare copper pair (known as the “Second Line Pilot”) as well as a selected “Single Line Pilot” which will use the existing copper phone line to the home. In a Single Line Pilot, traditional voice services will continue to be delivered from the exchange with the use of a combiner to “inject” VDSL signals into the existing line.

Unlike NBN Co’s FTTN discussion paper as reported by CommsDay, NBN Co will be responsible for a free installation process of both pilots where the new copper pair is terminated a new wall plate for “Second Line Pilot Premises”, or where a splitter is installed for the purposes of a “Single Line Pilot Premises”.

Similar to the FTTB trial, the Retail Service Provider or the end user will provide their own ADSL or NBN Co-approved VDSL modem to connect to the NBN Co FTTN Test Network. During NBN Co’s own shop-front tests in March, it was revealed that a Netcomm NF4V modem router was used.

NBN Co expects these trials to conclude 30th September 2014.

NBN technician splicing fibre in a van

NBN Co willingly provides ‘inaccurate’ info to RSPs and Minister

NBN Co has gone to the extraordinary length to claim that documents provided to Retail Service Providers, a weekly briefing document to Shareholder Ministers as well as the current NBN Co rollout map displayed on the NBN Co website as being “inaccurate information”.

In a recent answer to Question on Notice for the Additional Estimates Hearing in February 2014, NBN Co revealed that because of the “inaccurate” nature of the data, they can not provide numerous documents to the Senate including the “Weekly Program Summary Report” which is produced weekly to Shareholder Ministers (Malcolm Turnbull and Mathias Cormann) as well as other documents provided to Retail Service Providers including the Monthly Ready for Service Report and a computer-readable format of the network rollout boundaries — identical to those provided on the NBN Co rollout map.

The specific question, put on notice by Senator Urquhart, asked for the release of several documents in parts a-f — most of which were made readily available on the NBN Co public website prior to the change in Government. Rather than providing the documents as requested, NBN Co simply responded that the data was in fact “inaccurate”:

[…] NBN Co is currently not posting some information to the website until such time as the company has increased confidence in some forecasts. Based on past experience, providing inaccurate information—such as continually slipping RFS dates— is frustrating to all stakeholders (including citizens).

However, Ziggy Switkowski directly contradicts the notion that the data was inaccurate at the actual hearing:

Everything that we have done upon the change of government, board and management has been in the direction of, firstly, ensuring that the information and the data we have is accurate and meaningful […]

While NBN Co is more than happy to describe this data as being accurate and meaningful to the Minister and Retail Service Providers, when asked to actually provide them to the Senate, NBN Co claims that they simply provide “inaccurate information”.

It appears that either: they have failed to inform neither the Ministers nor Retail Service Providers that in fact the data provided to them may be highly inaccurate or they have in fact lied to the Senate. This would not have been the first time when NBN Co had failed to provide meaningful data to the Senate, even though it would have been as simple as copying and pasting.

Furthermore, contrary to NBN Co’s claims, recent analysis of Ready for Service dates provided by Telstra Wholesale show that in fact, these dates are increasingly accurate.

NZ Chrous projected efficiency savings of fibre rollout

NZ aims for at least 75% FTTP, AU stuck at 26%

In a presentation to institutional investors yesterday, Chrous, the leading telecommunications company in New Zealand projected that at least 75% of premises will be connected using FTTP/B by the end of 2020 — in sharp comparison with the 26% planned for the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix National Broadband Network (MTM NBN).

In a world where the majority of the world is moving towards a full-fibre deployment to replace existing infrastructure, NBN Co and the Coalition’s policy takes the reverse approach in phasing out an FTTP rollout in favour for a inferior FTTN network topology. Under the MTM model, brownfields Fibre to the Premises rollout will stop by CY2018 with the remainder of the rollout being FTTN-only. This means that under this model as bandwidth demands grow, Australians will be provided an upgraded service without the capacity and capability of delivering the demand needed.

In the contrary however, Chrous NZ and other telcos in New Zealand will be taking the initiative of rolling out Fibre to the Premises to deliver the demands of the present and the future. As indicated by the graph on their second slide, four providers will continue to pass premises incrementally into 2020 — with Chrous leading the way with a stable forecasted rollout rate.

Chorus NZ Investor Presentation: Slide 2
Slide 2: Rollout of Fibre to the Premises continues to ramp up in NZ until 2020

Likewise, while Chrous is projecting continual efficiency savings in building a fibre network, NBN Co denied any cost saving measures can be implemented or found until 2017-18 when the rollout itself will stop. This is again, at odds with worldwide comparisons.

NZ Chrous projected efficiency savings of fibre rollout
Unlike NBN Co, Chorus seems to know how to save money… by finding efficiencies over course of the rollout

Congratulations to New Zealand for recognising that FTTP is the future. Yes, while we have to concede that a Fibre to the Node rollout will happen… the Coalition should really recognise the technological advantage of having fibre to the premises and the extreme reliability and upgradability of the technology. xDSL technologies will continue to limit Australia’s productivity into the future and will always be limited by distance.

Rather than phase out an FTTP build half-way through the NBN build, the network technology should really be ramped up as the demand grows. There is absolutely no logic in their rollout plans, at all.

New Zealand truly deserves to get a 75% FTTP deployment, what a pity no one in power sees the value of it in Australia today.

NZ Chorus FTTP vs rest of the world
While Australia lags, New Zealand will be the leader in high-speed broadband by 2020.

Secular state funding religious agendas

School chaplaincy program continued at a cost of $243.5 million over five years

The school chaplaincy program has been controversial, to say the least, since it’s conception. Why do we, in a secular society, fund for exclusively Christian spiritual advisory roles in schools.

This is not at all, a criticism of the work that chaplains do in schools. In fact, I believe they do play an important role in the wellbeing of students in schools — not only spiritually, but also socially and emotionally.

But is it conceptually right to enforce Christianity in a secular state? The Australian Government, unlike our British origins, is secular — meaning, not associated with religion or spiritual matters. As the Abbott Government extends funding to the program that required substantial law change as it was found “constitutionally invalid”, I find myself questioning yet again… why is it funding for school chaplains — why is it not a generic funding for “spiritual” or “emotional” advisors, in which chaplains would fit the role in.

Infographic: Design Contracts between Sep 2013 and Mar 2014

NBN: FTTP workflow resumes in mainland states

Updated: (14/05/2014) Further clarification plus link to FOI request + Q&A section at the bottom

In response to a recent Freedom of Information request, NBN Co reveals that an additional 81 FSAMs were added to the “pipeline” between the start of September 2013 till the end of March 2014 to begin the detailed design phase of the network.

The “detailed design” phase was previously marked with “Construction Commenced” on the NBN Co map. It indicates the first contract instruction issued to NBN Co’s delivery partners to commence the detailed design and conduct network proving exercises including roping and rodding and preliminary clearing of ducts using “vac-trucks”.

These FSAMs are in addition to the areas previously classed as “Construction Commenced” on the NBN Co rollout map prior to the election and may have come from the old 1 year rollout plan.

Construction Commencement Date: The date that NBN Co expects to baseline the map contained in the Network Design Document. Construction Commenced means that NBN Co has issued contract instruction to its construction partners, so they can commence work on the detailed design, field inspections and rodding / roping activities in an area. It signals the commencement of rollout engagement with communities and councils.

All states and territories in mainland Australia receives at least one of these contract instructions, but Tasmania misses out, due to the unresolved contract disputes with Visionstream. However, it is great to see that 19 FSAMs were issued in Western Australia and South Australia each, adding to the backlog of FSAMs that never passed design phase under Syntheo’s contracts.

Following on from this detailed design phase, once the final design is approved and handed back to NBN Co, they will issue remediation notices to Telstra to fix any pits and ducts that may need to be replaced. NBN Co then issues build instructions to their delivery partners to begin network construction. It is uncertain at this stage how long NBN Co anticipates the detailed design phase will take.

The precise location of these new FSAMs is also not yet known.

Infographic: Design Contracts between Sep 2013 and Mar 2014
Infographic: Design Contracts between Sep 2013 and Mar 2014

Q&A

Q: Are these FSAMs the same ones as those that were removed from the NBN Co rollout map?
A: No. These FSAMs are in addition to the “orange” shades removed after the election. It is highly probable that these areas came from the 1 year rollout map. Those areas previously shaded in orange and since removed should see build commence in due course, where NBN Co has determined it is “economically viable” to build in that area.

Q: Are these brownfields?
A: Yes, all these FSAMs are brownfields.

Q: Do we know the actual location / FSAM identifier?
A: No. That was not part of the scope of the FOI request. Requesting specific information like that would have resulted in high processing charges for the request.

Q: How long does it take for this batch of FSAM to reach build stage?
A: NBN Co has redacted average statistics for the design phase in the Strategic Review. At this point in time, this figure is uncertain.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. I’ll try and answer and collate here.

Media hits a new low: Devine praises homophobia

We might live in the 21st century, but homophobia still forms a fundamental part of society — be it subliminal or deliberate. As are homophobic slurs, which seem to just flow out of mouths of most youths these days.

You know what I mean? “Gay this, gay that.” “Fag this, queer that.”. People are repeating these words like it’s about to run out of fashion. Is this really part of the Australian culture?

I don’t normally follow the NRL (nor the AFL for that matter), but recent developments have really caught my attention. Primarily after my research into the repeal of Section 18C, I’ve come to realise that rules against bullying, discrimination or bigotry in general is quite strict in the sporting codes. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that those two sports could in fact be the safest association for minorities to be “protected” from discrimination.

This is why when Mitchell Moses made the homophobic slur last week, which was caught on the referee mic, I was quite surprised it got the attention it did. While I’m not advocating or encouraging these slurs in any way, I do of course acknowledge that people do “slip up”. Perhaps being a carer debut, this slip up could be considered really bad timing.

Of course, you’ll have your naysayers, like “journalist” Miranda Devine wrote her ironicly offensive and completely missing-the-point article “NRL bosses are totally gay” to explain that in fact, what Moses said was not a homophobic slur! Wait, what? A homophobic slur was in fact… not homophobic at all? You have me dumbfounded. Let’s hear from the women herself:

“Gay” no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.”

In my honest opinion, that’s the dumbest piece of crap I’ve ever read.

The only reason why the word “gay” is used in the derogatory manner it is today is because of the word’s meaning of homosexuality. The phrase “that’s so gay” does not directly translate to “that’s so dumb”. It’s because “young people” (as Miranda puts it) think homosexuality is unacceptable, something that should be challenged or humiliated for. The use of these words in the manner they’re expressed is the result of homophobic attitudes, full stop.

Before you start redefining the English language, Miranda, I remind you that I am a “young” person. I’m not gay, I would consider myself quite straight on the spectrum. I certainly do not agree with what Moses had said. I’m not in the position to comment on his personality, as I don’t know him at all! He might well be supportive of the LGBTIQ community… but if the NRL did not respond to those comments, it’s putting out a message that those comments are acceptable and tolerated in society. He is, I believe, the first of many martyrs in this growing movement against homophobic intolerance in sport.

The moment role models start using these slurs and “journalists” start believing that it’s “acceptable”… you seriously start to wonder the integrity of Australian culture. Mateship? Fair go for all? Nah, just a growing homophobic epidemic.