nbn launches satellite mobility product

Proof-of-concept Wi-Fi trial with Qantas becomes commercial product

Last Friday, the company responsible for building and operating the National Broadband Network (nbn) launched its Large Commercial Passenger Aircraft (LCPA) Satellite Mobility product.

After trialing a proof-of-concept aeronautical satellite product with Qantas earlier this year, the company has released commercial supply agreements including product descriptions and pricing.

Pricing model

nbn will charge satellite mobility (LCPA) customers at a significant premium for both its access and connectivity compared with the standard NEBS (NBN Ethernet Bitstream Service) Satellite product.

On the connectivity side, the Mobility-CVC (M-CVC) will cost $2,310 per Mbps with a minimum order of 100 Mbps. This is compared to $17.50 per Mbps per month for the NEBS product plus a $200 NNI charge.

On the access component, nbn will charge $9,060 per month for each aircraft’s Mobility Beams Virtual Circuit (MB-VC).

Pricing table for nbn’s new Satellite Mobility (LCPA) product (Source: nbn co)

NEBS given traffic priority

nbn states in its LCPA agreement that residential and business customers using the standard NEBS (NBN Ethernet Bitstream Service) product will be given traffic priority over satellite mobility customers.

During any capacity congestion or contention event, nbn will use a Weighted Fair Queuing algorithm to prioritise NEBS traffic over Satellite Mobility product traffic.

The agreement says that, as a result, LCPA traffic will “be adversely affected by nbn™ Ethernet (Satellite) traffic”.

nbn will prioritise traffic from the standard NBN Ethernet Bitstream Service (Satellite) over Satellite Mobility (LCPA) traffic (Source: nbn co)

Standard satellite product also revamped

The LCPA launch comes as nbn revamped its satellite offering for residential and business customers in rural and regional Australia this month. The satellite fair use policy has been relaxed with data allowances doubled across the board.

nbn to pay RSPs for HFC NTD installation

$26 rebate up for grabs for service providers who mail their own NTDs or perform their own professional installations

nbn, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, is incentivising retail service providers (RSPs) to provide their own HFC NTD installation or delivery mechanisms.

Last week, nbn released its updated Wholesale Broadband Agreement for July, which includes a new $150 installation fee for the HFC NTD.

Documents published by the network builder today reveal that service providers can participate in business readiness testing (BRT) for more HFC Installation Options. These include HFC NTD delivery or installation by service provider.

A rebate of $26 (excluding GST) will be provided by nbn to participating service providers when they attempt to deliver a self-installation HFC NTD kit to end users or a professional installation is performed.

In addition to the rebate, the professional installation fee will be waived by nbn since the service provider is providing the installation at their own cost.

nbn says this rebate is to help “contribute to [service provider’s] costs associated with […] managing a Customer Professional Installation – HFC or Customer Dispatch NBN Co Self-Install Kit – HFC for the duration of the HFC Installation Options BRT”.

The rebate will be paid for successful activations or when an activation attempt was made and the provider’s overall activation failure rate is less than or equal to 1.5%.

nbn has not specified an end date to this testing agreement.

[Source: nbn]

nbn to charge for HFC NTD install from July

Customers with existing Telstra or Foxtel cable service given self-install option by default

nbn, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, will start charging an HFC NTD installation fee from July this year.

This comes as nbn finalises its self-install model which sees end users being mailed their own Network Termination Device in premises with an existing cable installation.

According to its updated WBA price list, nbn will give end users an option of a free self-install kit or a professional install charged at $75 per hour for a minimum of 2 hour (minimum charge $150) excluding GST.

The self-install kit will include a splitter, coaxial cable and the Arris modem acting as the NBN Network Termination Device.

Customers who do not have existing coaxial cabling connecting to the cable network will still be provided with a free initial standard installation.

Missing HFC modems

Unlike NTDs found on nbn’s Fibre or Fixed Wireless networks, the HFC NTD modem is not a wall-mounted installation making it easy for end users to mistakenly remove the devices when moving homes or businesses.

nbn have established that when an HFC Network Termination Device is missing, the new end user will have to request a professional install charged at the same $75 per hour rate for a minimum of 2 hours.

Additional data connections over HFC

Unlike other access technologies on the National Broadband Network with an NTD, the HFC modem only has one active port.

In order to order a second data service, end users will need to order a second Network Termination Device either through a self-install kit or a professional install.

End users with 3 or more existing RF signal terminating devices (such as a cable TV box) will be required to pay a subsequent installation fee charged at $270, plus a labour rate of $75 per hour and any additional material costs.

[Source: nbn]

Could TPG end up partially subsidising NBN for Qantas Wi-Fi?

NBN Co placed in a potential conflict of interest under new regional broadband tax

Earlier this year, I made a submission to the Government’s consultation on the Telecommunications Reform Package.

I’ve been meaning to write a summary for some time.  I thought I’d whip one up together after it was announced that the Government planned to introduce the legislation next month despite not responding to the submissions.


As part of the reform package, the government planned to introduce a $7.09 charge per line to most fixed line “superfast” broadband services (defined as 25 Mbps download speeds or greater).

This is to help subsidise the cost of nbn’s fixed wireless and satellite networks — primarily servicing regional and remote communities around Australia.

The NBN fixed line footprint is expected to be the primary contributor of the tax.  However, other operators such as TPG with its fibre to the building network will also be hit.

NBN Co’s commercial interest

The problem is that the NBN satellite network is no longer solely about the delivery of broadband services to regional areas.

It now has other commercial interests — including the Satellite Mobility product which allows commercial entities like Qantas to tap into the satellite network for the delivery of in-flight Wi-Fi.

This could mean that a provider like TPG could be paying taxes which help subsidise the provisioning of Wi-Fi services on a Qantas aircraft.

No restrictions on subsidy for regional broadband only

The proposed bill had no restrictions that the funding must only be used to provision broadband services to regional areas — as I explained in 2.1.5 and 2.1.6 of my submission.

So, NBN Co is placed in a conflicting conundrum.  It can spend its subsidy funds on improving the quality of satellite services to regional communities like relaxing the Fair Use Policy with no additional revenue.

Alternatively, it could spend it on developing new revenue streams through commercial products like the Satellite Mobility product — competing with the likes of Optus who also have satellites in the sky.

My suggestions?

In my submission, I suggested:

  1. The Bill should make clear that the funding made available through the Regional Broadband Scheme is not available for services where the primary purpose is not to deliver broadband to regional communities.
  2. The strict Fair Use Policy (FUP) imposed by NBN Co on its Satellite network means the quality is still not directly comparable to fixed-line super-fast broadband services.As a condition of the Regional Broadband Scheme funding, the funding recipient should prioritise upgrades to the capacity and service reliability of rural and regional customers over the development of supplementary products like the Satellite Mobility product.
  3. Ensure similar protection is afforded to services delivered by means of the NBN Fixed Wireless network.

Full submission

Qantas to sign trial satellite product with NBN for Wi-Fi

nbn co and Qantas set to begin a proof-of-concept agreement to test the delivery of a on-board Wi-Fi from February 2017

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has released its test agreement with Qantas allowing them to test a “Proof-of-Concept Aeronautical Mobile Satellite Service” on a Qantas test aircraft.

The proof-of-concept test is expected to help guide the development of nbn’s Satellite Mobility Product expected to launch in the third quarter of 2017.

Qantas has already begun preliminary engineering testing of its proposed on-board Wi-Fi product on a Boeing 737 aircraft (VH-XZB). The national carrier intends to partner with service provider ViaSat to deliver on-board Internet connectivity once the mobility product becomes available.

The trial product will be delivered over a Layer 3 VPN connection over the NBN Satellite Network. nbn will be responsible for the network between the Air Network Interface (ANI) located on the test aircraft’s Air Terminal and the Mobility Network-Network Interface (M-NNI) located at the NBN Point of Interconnect (POI).

As part of the trial, the network speed will be limited to 20 megabits per second for each aircraft on at most two aircrafts concurrently. The connection will also be limited to agreed flight corridors.

Earlier analysis by jxeeno blog has concluded that on-board Wi-Fi products are likely to have little or no impact on the congestion of beams given the short duration of time each aircraft spends under a single beam.

The proof-of-concept agreement is set to kick in from 1st February 2017 and is expected to run until 1st September 2017 unless terminated early or extended. However, Qantas is yet to officially announce its public launch date for the on-board Wi-Fi service.

nbn™ logo (large)

nbn introduces DOCSIS 3.1 NTDs this month

No high-speed tiers to accompany launch of higher speed network

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, is set to begin installing new HFC Network Termination Devices (NTDs) at the end of this month to allow them to connect to the upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 network.

nbn’s NTD is a customised CM8200B DOCSIS 3.1 modem from Arris, who successfully won a tender to supply the network equipment.

nbn's new HFC Network Termination Device capable of DOCSIS 3.1
nbn’s new HFC Network Termination Device capable of DOCSIS 3.1 (Source: nbn co)

nbn had initially planned to begin deploying its DOCSIS 3.1 NTDs in December 2016. This has been pushed back by a month to the end of January 2017, with the company issuing an amendment to its Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA2).

In their notification letter to Access Seekers, nbn states that it intends to “introduce the new CM8200B (DOCSIS 3.1) HFC-NTD deploying on all HFC installations from end January 2017”.


No speed increase despite upgrade

Despite touting the speed capabilities of the new DOCSIS 3.1 modems, nbn will not launch new speed tiers to accompany the launch of the new modems.

In November 2015, nbn’s Chief Technology Officer penned a blog post saying that new modems by Arris will be capable of delivering “a stunning 5Gbps downstream and 2Gbps upstream”.

However, the maximum speed tier nbn will offer over the HFC network will remain at 100/40 Mbps. The January 2017 Integrated Deployment Plan also shows no future plans to introduce higher speed tiers already available the NBN Fibre network.

DOCSIS 3.1 promises to provide improved network performance and speeds through increased modulation orders and wider spectrum utilisation.

The new NTD will also have a second Ethernet port, however, the port will be disabled and covered by a sticker at launch.

NBN to rebate for higher speeds

Service providers may be eligible for a rebate to upgrade existing users to higher speed tiers

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, will introduce a three-month credit scheme designed to promote the uptake of higher speed tiers on its network.  The “Step Up AVC Credit” will see service providers refunded up to $33 over 3 months for upgrading existing customers to a higher speed tier.

End users must stay on the new tier for a minimum of 90 days to be eligible for the credit.

Rebates range from $9 to $33 over 3 months:

  • 12/1 Mbps to 25/5 Mbps: $9 over 3 months
  • 12/1 Mbps to 50/20 Mbps: $21 over 3 months
  • 12/1 Mbps to 100/40 Mbps: $33 over 3 months
  • 25/5 Mbps to 50/20 Mbps: $21 over 3 months
  • 25/5 Mbps to 100/40 Mbps: $33 over 3 months
  • 50/20 Mbps to 100/40 Mbps: $21 over 3 months

In an effort to reduce congestion and lower CVC congestion, the credit has strict guidelines about the state of congestion within the network.  Any connectivity virtual circuit connected to end users applying for the “Step Up AVC Credit” cannot exceed an average of 95% of network utilisation for 4 consecutive 15 minute intervals in any 24 hour period.

During this campaign, nbn will also co-fund marketing activities associated with the “Step Up AVC Credit” at $1.50 for each eligible AVC.

The scheme will start in November 2016 and finish at the end of March 2017.

[Source: NBN Co]

NBN Fibre to the Node Trial at Umina Beach

NBN to remediate business connections over copper

But will lock you in for 12 months if the existing copper line isn’t up to scratch

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, will begin offering line remediation to business services unable to reach their committed speeds over the copper network.

Business level services delivered over Traffic Class 2 (TC-2) have a committed information rate (CIR) which effectively guarantees a connection’s transfer rate.  Typical residential services are provisioned over Traffic Class 4, which has a peak information rate (PIR) describing the “up to” transfer rate achievable over the line.

The company is already offering TC-2 services over its FTTN and FTTB network with symmetrical transfer speeds of 5, 10 or 20 Mbps.  However, according to the current Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA), the company is currently not committing to its Committed Information Rate — stating:

“the actual Information Rate experienced by Customer, Downstream Customer or the relevant End User, may each be significantly less than the downstream CIR and upstream CIR of the bandwidth profile ordered by Customer in respect of the relevant Ordered Product”

According to the revised WBA on its website, the company will enable customers to submit a trouble ticket to remediate the copper line.  However, nbn will also require the end user to take up the service for at least 12 months or will have to pay an early disconnection or modification fee.

NBN will charge an early termination or modification fee if customers had their line remediated
NBN will charge an early termination or modification fee if customers had their business line remediated

Increased FTTN performance objectives

nbn is also increasing its network availability operational target on the FTTN Network from 99.70% to 99.80%.  The agreement states that “operational targets are non-binding and aspirational”.

The new wholesale broadband agreement will become effective in early December 2016.

 

nbn launches Cell Site Access Service

Company does away with CVC, but will charge two pricing levels based on metro or regional classification

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has released an interim agreement for its Cell Site Access Service (CSAS).  As previously reported, this product is designed for mobile service providers to connect its cell towers through the National Broadband Network fibre network.

The agreement includes a price list, indicating nbn’s intention to provide cell towers with blended traffic class product including a traffic class 1 and traffic class 2 access virtual circuit (TC-1/TC-2 AVC).  All access products include a 5 Mbps TC-1 AVC, with varying amounts of TC-2 bandwidth from 50 Mbps to 900 Mbps.

Unlike the residential/business focused product offered by nbn (NEBS), the CSAS price list and product specification bares no mention of the contentious connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) — the charge imposed by nbn to allow traffic to be carried over from the NBN to the provider’s network.

For the first time, nbn has offered differential pricing based on the classification of the point of interconnect.  Access components in metro and outer metro areas will be charged at a lower rate compared with regional areas.

For example, the base product which includes 5 Mbps TC-1 and 50 Mbps TC-2 comes in at $910 in metro and outer-metro areas.  However, the access charge will increase to $1,245 for cell towers connected to regional points of interconnect.

NBN Cell Site Access Service - AVC Pricing Table
NBN Cell Site Access Service – AVC Pricing Table, Source: nbn co ltd

CSAS Network Termination Device

nbn will be providing a specialised network termination device (NTD) for customers of the Cell Site Access Service.  Unlike the standard NTD available for residential connections, the CSAS NTD will only have one User Network Interface (UNI) which is accessible through a copper or optical port.

The customer is expected to produce 3 RU of rack space for the installation of the NBN fibre tray, power supply and NTD.

NBN CSAS NTD Layout, Source: nbn co ltd
NBN CSAS NTD Layout, Source: nbn co ltd

 

You can find the CSAS pricing list and product descriptions on the nbn website.

Updated 23rd September 2016: to include that CVC appears is not mentioned.

NBN HFC self-install to become default

HFC installation premium for customers with existing lead-ins amongst changes in latest NBN product roadmap

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has updated its product roadmap for the third quarter of 2016. Here is a summary of some of the key changes:

HFC product

nbn’s HFC product launched at the end of last month in a limited footprint in Redcliffe region in Queensland (PR044). The company also recently signed a contract with six delivery partners to upgrade and rollout the existing Telstra HFC footprint for nbn’s use.

Self-install to become default
As part of the current rollout strategy, nbn will send an installer to install the HFC Network Termination Device (NTD) at the customer’s premises when a service is ordered. However, the company plans to implement an RSP install and customer install option by the end of first and second quarter of 2017 respectively (PR112, PR129).

Once this process is implemented, nbn will begin charging customers who already have an existing lead-in a professional NTD installation a fee if they request for one.

Other HFC planned products
Deployment of DOCSIS 3.1 NTDs remain on-track for upgrade by the end of 2016 (CE045).

nbn also plans to introduce service transfers on HFC by September 2016 (PR121), as well as various diagnostic capabilities for Traffic Class 1 services.

The company does not plan to offer business grade “Traffic Class 2” tiers over HFC until 2018 or beyond (PR118).

NBN Satellite Service

ISS migration period extended
The migration of nbn’s existing Interim Satellite Service (ISS) customers to the new “Sky Muster” Long Term Satellite (LTS) service has been extended out until February 2017 (PR023). nbn had originally planned to migrate all its existing ISS customers to the Long Term Satellite solution by the end of 2016.

However, teething issues appeared to have hampered the originally anticipated activation rate — shifting the expected end date for the migration by two months.

There have been numerous reports of missed appointments, inability for NBN NTD modems to reconnect after a power reboot and most recently, the decision to retain the existing ISS satellite service after an LTS installation and retrospectively visit the customer to remove the ISS dish.

Consultation on “Managed Services Education” over Satellite
nbn is investigating the possibility of providing enhanced services for distance education students. The company has listed a number of possible products including a managed unmetered data service and multicast video broadcast services over its LTS service. Consultation on this service is expected to begin in September 2017.

Consultation on “Satellite Mobility” which could enable services like on-board Wi-Fi or Internet access for emergency services in remote areas has also been pushed back slightly to September (PR123).

Cell Site Access Service

As reported earlier, nbn concluded its initial Cell Access trial and has begun offering a Cell Site Access Service (CSAS) test service in Beaudesert, Queensland (PR039).