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).

NBN begins second Cell Access trial

National broadband company continues to develop product to allow mobile carriers to tap into their fibre network

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has released details of its proposed Cell Site Access Service (CSAS) — designed to allow mobile carriers to connect their mobile towers using NBN infrastructure.

This comes as nbn finishes their first round of trials with their customers which started at the end of 2013 and continued through till June this year. However, given the duration of this second trial which is not expected to end till July 2017, it appears that initial plans to have a cell site access product available to customers by the end of the year will be pushed back further.

Former CEO of Vodafone Australia and now NBN-CEO was once a strong advocate for the introduction of the backhaul service. However, the company recently signed a deal with TPG telecom to build out its fibre network to all of Vodafone’s cell sites.

According to the updated testing agreement, nbn will trial the CSAS at a “mobile complex” in Beaudesert, Queensland where the company has begun rolling out its fibre to the node and fixed wireless network. As part of the service, the carrier will receive a network extension quote equivalent to one from the company’s “Technology Choice Program” to extend the fibre network (FTTP) to the designated cell site.

During the trial, the company will not charge the participating carrier for this network extension or any associated costs with this service including the Access Virtual Circuit (AVC), User Network Interface (UNI), Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) and Network-Network Interface (NNI) — however, it says it will intend to do so once the trial is completed.

The test agreement also makes mention of potentially co-locating the cell tower with towers used by NBN’s Fixed Wireless service as part of a facilities access agreement with the access seeker. The NBN company will also determine the network traffic class used during the trial.

The CSAS trial is expect to continue until 1st July 2017.

Source: Cell Site Access Service, Testing Agreement

Why is HFC and FTTN still in Labor’s NBN?

The Labor party today released its NBN policy, just three weeks out from polling day.  The party has pledged to ensure around 2 million more homes and businesses will get Fibre to the Premises (rather than Fibre to the Node) — but will retain the HFC portion of the network.

I’m keeping it brief today because of exams… but one may wonder why the Labor party will not also pledge to move some of the HFC premises to Fibre to the Premises.  Further, why only shift 2 million premises to fibre?  That’s because of one word: contracts.

HFC contracts

NBN has already signed numerous contracts with various vendors and companies. Most recently, a $1.6 billion dollar contract with Telstra to rollout the HFC network.  Previously, a $400m contract with ARRIS to provide the equipment for the HFC upgrade.  Not to mention, all of the capital that has already been spent on building out the HFC IT systems (OSS/BSS).

In addition to this — the NBN company, under its Definitive Agreements with Telstra, must also retain ownership of the entire Telstra HFC network as soon as they switch on a single HFC-connected premises. That’s expected to occur within the next few weeks.

So even if the Labor party did pull the pin on the HFC network, not only will the NBN be liable for terminating contracts worth billions — it may also have to maintain a network HFC network (with Foxtel will continue to use) effectively for free even though NBN themselves won’t use it. Now that, would be absolute absurdity.

FTTN contracts

Estimates puts the build contracts signed by the end of July 2016 to be ~2 million premises (according to the leaked November 2015 IDP).  The last corporate plan puts the number of FTTN/B premises by the end of 2020 to be 4.5 million, leaving 2.5 million premises available to be switched to the Fibre to the Premises model.

Being able to switch turn around, complete new all-fibre network designs and sign contracts within one month would be wishful thinking.  This gives them around a 0.5 million premises buffer (mind you, that’s only gives them until October 2016) to turn around new designs and begin signing contracts or risk further delays.

Fortunately, there is no need to renegotiate the definitive agreements with Telstra and Optus again.  However, I’d still characterise the 2 million premises FTTN to FTTP shift as an “optimistic target”.  Good luck with the 4 month turnaround.

LNP backflip: “announcing” FTTN for West Coast Tasmania

NBN and the Coalition backtracks after facing massive community backlash for forcing thousands of homes and businesses in west coast Tasmania onto satellite

It’s possibly the height of hypocrisy.  The Government who led the charge to remove fixed-line communications in thousands of homes and business in Tasmanian West Coast communities is now “announcing” that they’re rolling out Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fixed Wireless networks in the townships of Queenstown, Rosebery, Zeehan and Strahan after massive community backlash.

Queenstown, the largest of the communities, already has existing fixed-line infrastructure including ADSL2+ and 4G mobile connections provided by Telstra.  The initial commitment by the former NBN-management was to rollout Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to Queenstown, Rosebery and Zeehan.  This later changed to Fibre to the Node (FTTN) when the Coalition’s preferred Multi-Technology Mix model was introduced.

However, jxeeno blog’s analysis of the 18 month construction plan last July showed these areas were removed from the Fixed-Line rollout schedule.  It was later revealed in a Senate hearing that these towns were permanently removed after from the fixed-line rollout in favour of the long term satellite service.  This is despite the Coalition’s initiated Strategic Review modelled that the satellite beam servicing west coast Tasmania will likely be “severely oversubscribed”.

Up until this week, Queenstown remained the largest suburb covered entirely by the Long Term Satellite Service — originally intended for remote communities.

After strong community resistance arguing that their “new” national broadband network connections will be worse than their existing ADSL2+ services (in terms of latency and data allowances) and continued questioning by Tasmanian Labor Senator Anne Urquhart in various Senate hearings — it looks like for once, politics and community resistance has finally made a difference to the National Broadband Network’s so-called Multi-Technology Mix.

Now only if the broader outcry for reforming the Multi-Technology Mix is heard.

NBN: Dimension-based CVC explained

Price signals to more high capacity plans and less network congestion

The NBN pricing discussion has hit full swing again.  The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has just pushed ahead with its proposed “dimension-based” discount on its controversial “Connectivity Virtual Circuit” (CVC) charge.

CVC is a virtual charge imposed by nbn to service providers in order to bring traffic from the “NBN network” to the service provider network (and vice versa).  This bandwidth is shared amongst all of the users on the same provider’s network aggregated at the 121 NBN points of interconnect.  You can read more about the threat of the CVC charge on nbn’s success here.

The newly introduced dimension-based discount sees greater discounts for service providers who purchase more hand-off capacity between the “NBN network” and the service provider’s network on a per-user basis.

The discounts being implemented will range from $0.50 to up to $6.00 per Mbps of CVC, depending on the average amount of CVC purchased per user.

Band-aid to solving two problems

Congestion

This discount is a very significant signal to service providers.

CVC “skimping” is a known problem for many NBN customers, whose Internet connection can grind to a halt during peak hours due to insufficient CVC bandwidth.  Especially with its widely unpopular Fibre to the Node network, NBN simply cannot afford to have negative perceptions about the performance of its network — whether it is provider-induced or indeed, NBN-induced.

This discount not only encourages ISPs to buy more CVC (reducing skimping and improving performance), it will also encourage ISPs to sell higher-speed or higher-capacity plans.  More on that in a bit.

But first — why will it solve congestion? Simply because in many cases, it is cheaper for providers to purchase more bandwidth (thereby decreasing congestion) than to retain their old per-user allocations.

Take an example service provider who provisions on average anywhere between 583 to 600 Kbps of CVC bandwidth per user.  It becomes cheaper for the provider to purchase more CVC than to use the existing bandwidth allocation:

CVC provisioned per user

CVC rate per Mbps
(with dimension-based discount)

CVC rate per user
(A) x (B)

583 Kbps

$16.25

$9.47
(same as 601 Kbps)

600 Kbps

$16.25

$9.75
(same as 619 Kbps)

601 Kbps

$15.75

$9.47

619 Kbps

$15.75

$9.75

Despite purchasing more CVC (601 to 619 Kbps), the CVC rate per user is either cheaper than or is equal to the old CVC rate thanks to the discounted rate.

Higher capacity / speed plans

This discount also encourages providers to sell more higher value plans.

A provider who exclusively sells low capacity plans will naturally have a lower amount of CVC-per-user provisioned.  This means their CVC discount is less, costing them more on a per Mbps basis than a provider who sells a more diverse set of plans.

In contrast, a provider who sells more high-speed or high-capacity plans will have a greater CVC discount. This allows them to sell all of their plans marginally cheaper than the exclusive low capacity provider, even if they’re allocating the same CVC per user.

Thus, providers who diversify and increase the customer base to have more high usage users will benefit the most from these pricing discounts.

So what’s the target CVC-per-user?

Looking at the price modelling, it’s evident that nbn is targeting around the 1 Mbps and 1.25 Mbps per user mark.  It offers the largest and most generous discounts at the 1150 Kbps mark, shaving a whole $1.42 per user by simply increasing the CVC-per-user by a mere 1 Kbps.

Reverse engineering NBN’s 2016 half-year results by combining ARPU and AVC speed tier breakdowns — we can estimate that the current CVC allocation per user across all providers is around 800 kbps.

Importantly, however, this excludes the initial 150 Mbps of CVC that NBN provides for free to service providers at each point of interconnect.

AVC Tiers (Mbps) Percentage (HY2016) AVC+UNI Cost (ex GST)
12/1

33%

$24

25/5

45%

$27

50/20

6%

$34

100/40

16%

$38

Avg AVC/UNI Revenue per user

$28.19

Price component Revenue per user per month
ARPU (HY2016)

$43.00

Avg AVC/UNI Revenue

-$28.19

Avg CVC/NNI Revenue

$14.81

Estimated Avg CVC^

~835 Kbps

^ excluding initial 150Mbps credit per provider per CSA. Assumes an NNI cost per user to be ~20¢.

Of course, the way that NBN constructs its product means that providers will always want to purchase more CVC. Whether or not they can afford it is another problem.

Going forward, NBN must maintain an open dialog with service providers to ensure that the pricing is adaptable to the bandwidth demands of Australians.  Whether it’s a complete rethink of the pricing structure or continual discounts — this pricing model is vital to the success of the network.