DOCSIS 3.1 coming to nbn at the end of the year

Company to retrospectively replace end user equipment to enable higher speeds using new cable broadband technology

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has updated its Integrated Product Roadmap — revealing that it will be upgrading its HFC network termination device (NTD) to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard in the fourth quarter of 2016.

nbn is still yet to officially launch their HFC product, which is still scheduled to launch in June 2016. Last month, the company revealed at a Senate Committee hearing that they still have not signed construction contracts for the HFC rollout and the initial launch will be limited to a pilot area in Redcliffe, Queensland.

Initially, nbn will utilise DOCSIS 3.0 technology to deliver services to end users. Since HFC is a shared medium, traditionally, cable networks have heavy congestion and severely reduced speed during peak hours.

DOCSIS 3.1 promises to increase capacity through increased spectral efficiency, thus easing congestion.

In-flight satellite consultation in June

NBN will also be consulting with its service providers over “a mobility solution” which will include “a wide range of applications” including in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, emergency services and health and education.

This consultation comes as Qantas announced it will team up with ViaSat to trial in-flight Wi-Fi services by utilising the NBN satellites on select domestic flights.

Detailed analysis of the proposal conducted by jxeeno blog found it would likely have minimal impact to existing satellite congestion due to the short periods of time a plane flies over a particular NBN spot beam.

Enterprise satellite consultation in third quarter

Separately, nbn will also be consulting on the delivery of enterprise services over its satellites. While the roadmap provides no further detail on this consultation — at the last Senate Committee hearing, company executives had alluded potential use of NBN satellites in the defense department or other enterprise applications.

NBN Mobile Backhaul and TV over fibre delayed

Initially slated for launch in the first quarter of 2016, nbn has delayed the launch of the NBN cell access service (mobile backhaul over the NBN) and its inclusion of TV signals over fibre in new developments till May this year.

NBN Fixed Wireless Antenna (close up)

NBN expands 3.4GHz Fixed Wireless trial

15 existing towers in NSW, VIC and SA retrofitted with new radios

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, appears to have expanded its trial of the 3.4GHz band to deliver fixed wireless to outer metropolitan fringes.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has updated its Register of Radiocommunications Licenses.  It has replaced the Scientifically Assigned licenses, first assigned at the start 2015, with fixed site licenses on existing towers.  The towers now listed in the register include:

The current rollout, which currently relies on TD-LTE technology delivered over the 2.3 GHz band, has mainly been limited to regional areas where nbn holds the licence for the frequency.  Mobile provider Optus owns the licenses spectrum in areas closer to capital cities.

The ACMA was ordered by then-Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, to allocate the 3.4 GHz spectrum to nbn to enable the company to complete its fixed wireless rollout.  The so-called 3.4 GHz band encompasses the 3425-3492.5 MHz and 3542.5-3757 MHz spectrum allocations.

In March 2015, the nbn company had engaged NetComm Wireless to develop fixed wireless equipment for the new band.

Inside an NBN node at Umina Beach

NBN: 5 drop outs daily “acceptable” on new FTTN network

Leaked internal documents detailing the fault resolution process on the FTTN/B network suggests a nightmare process awaits millions of Australians

A leaked document from the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network (nbn) has revealed insights into the fault ratification process for its Fibre to the Node and  Basement networks.

The freshly leaked document, first published by technology publication Delimiter, is the latest addition to a string of damaging leaked documents from within the company within the last few weeks alone.

5 drops out a day? That’s “acceptable”

Australians shouldn’t expect their current unexpected drop-outs to be fixed after upgrading to the new Fibre to the Node network.

On page 21, nbn describes how it plans to diagnose a user experiencing drop-out issues on the Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement networks.

A user experiencing on average 2.4 resync events (colloquially known as dropouts) per day as being connected to a “stable” connection. It goes on to explain that connections experiencing up to 5 dropouts a day as being “risky” — yet “nbn regards risky [connections] as acceptable”.

NBN considers 5 drop outs per day as "acceptable"
NBN considers 5 drop outs per day as “acceptable”

The company suggests putting risky connections into a lower sync speed by assigning them to a “stability” profile in the hope of reduced drop-out rates.

Modems must be approved, or faults cannot be logged

The NBN company is insisting that end users must use an approved modem, certified to be working by an NBN service provider, in order for a fault to be lodged.

Despite the requirement of an approved modem, nbn has refused a freedom of information request to provide a list of modems that are approved for connecting to the NBN network to the public. Nor can members of the public request models of modems to be tested for registration.

This forces all end users to purchase the low-end, consumer-grade modem approved by their service providers such as the cheap sagecomm [email protected] modem line-up preferred by some major carriers. The flaw in this is that many sagecomm modems have a ton. of. security.exploits.

$50 No Fault Found charge if problem is beyond the network boundary

Unlike on its fibre network, nbn will charge end users $50 for a “No Fault Found”call-out fee for the FTTN and FTTB network where the technician identifies no faults on the line or if the fault is within the end user’s house (for example, a bridge tap inside the home).

This fee, similar to one currently charged by Telstra, is set to discourage end users from lodging faults and risk paying a $50 No Fault Found charge if a fault is not identified.


So here we are again, folks:

  • It’s okay for this new $56 billion dollar network to drop out 1, 2… maybe 5 times a day — that’s totally acceptable!
  • You’re after a modem that’s higher quality, possibly enterprise-grade, instead than the cheapo modem your service provider sold to you? Not only will we not tell you what modems you can get, you can’t even get new modems approved if you wanted!
  • Finally, think you have a fault? Think again — we can slug you $50 if you complain about the network and we don’t find anything wrong with it!

What a wonderful broadband network this is going to be!

nbn™ logo (large)

NBN: no power resiliency policy for HFC Network

Unlike FTTP, FTTN and FTTB, homes and businesses in NBN’s HFC network will not be provided a power resiliency policy to deal with power outages on NBN equipment

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has revealed that it will not be providing a power resiliency policy to the NBN HFC network — expected to be launched in the second quarter of this year.

In its draft Wholesale Broadband Agreement, released to Access Seekers for HFC Business Readiness Testing (BRT) today, the company states that it has “made the decision that a general power resiliency policy […] will not be implemented for the NBN Co HFC Network” as the “NBN Co HFC Network architecture is different to that of the FTTB/N Networks”.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.24.17 am

NBN’s FTTN and FTTB network benefit from having backup batteries installed within the node enclosures, enabling a certain degree of power backup for the active equipment located on the field. NBN’s Fibre to the Premises network is entirely passive in the field — meaning it is not impacted by on-field power outages.

The HFC network, which NBN will acquire from Telstra and Optus, will replace the majority of existing copper phone and ADSL/ADSL2+ services delivered over the copper network. This means that during a power disruption on NBN’s HFC equipment, homes and businesses could be disconnected any fixed-line phone or Internet connection until NBN and its power supplier resolves the issue.

This could be a significant concern for owners of security alarms, medical alarms and lift emergency phones which depend on a resilient phone connection — especially during emergencies.

I’ve written in some more detail in a previous post on the impact of power outages on nbn’s Multi-Technology Mix technologies.  You can read more about it here.

[Source: Draft Wholesale Broadband Agreement – Product Description (HFC BRT)]

NBN Fixed Wireless Antenna (close up)

Unlicensed: nbn forgets to renew its radio assignments for over half a year

Assignments at almost a thousand fixed wireless sites have disappeared after 2.3 GHz licence renewal in July last year.

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has apparently failed to renew its radio assignments for the majority of existing fixed wireless towers.

Despite having around 1,200 fixed wireless towers active around Australia, the company’s radio assignment records contains only around 200 radio sites with the 2.3 GHz radio frequency assigned.

nbn uses the 2.3 GHz radio frequency to service areas in outer metropolitan fringes using TD-LTE 4G technology. However, since its licence renewal in July last year, the radio assignments in the majority of its existing fixed wireless towers have disappeared from the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA’s) Register of Radiocommunications Licences.

Contacting ACMA about this issue, the authority revealed that “it appears [nbn’s] devices on this site have not been renewed” after July and that they were “checking with NBN to find out what has happened”.

More to come.

First tranche of nbn satellite premises: see the list

Almost half of the 400 thousand homes and businesses expected to be serviced by NBN’s Sky Muster satellite have been listed in the first tranche of addresses

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has updated its rollout map to include around 160,000 premises which are expected to be assigned to the Sky Muster satellite service launching in this half of the year.

The satellite footprint will ultimately cover more than 400,000 premises, however, nbn has yet to complete detailed design in some areas to finalise the boundaries of the three main technology groups: satellite, fixed wireless and fixed-line.  More addresses are expected to be added to the satellite list over the coming months.

The company also expects the boundary between the technology groups to continually change as the other technologies continue to roll out nationwide.

These initial 160,000 premises includes addresses from all states and territories including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island. A detailed breakdown of number of premises by suburb can be found at the bottom of this page.

By state

State Premises in 1st tranche
ACT 27
NSW 49,727
NT 3,641
QLD 42,086
SA 18,211
TAS 3,585
VIC 18,156
WA 20,999
Christmas Island 963
Home Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands 146
Norfolk Island 1,385
West Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands 43

By suburb

This list shows the number of premises within a suburb that has been included in the first tranche of addresses. Even if your suburb is listed, it does not necessarily mean that all premises in that suburb will be serviced by satellite. Check the nbn rollout map to check for a particular address.

Here’s a SkyMuster Speed Test

The Australian’s technology reporter, David Swan, has just posted a speed test over the new NBN Sky Muster satellite expected to be launched later this year.

The speed test shows that real world speeds are close to the Layer 2 link speed provided by NBN (25/5 Mbps) — around 23.33/4.26 Mbps with a round trip latency of around 599ms.

Hundreds of new developments get new copper connections

Changes to the telecommunications in new developments (TIND) policy has led to a sharp increase in new rollouts of copper around Australia

The Department of Communications has updated its registrar of telecommunication providers in new developments, revealing around 420 new developments have been rolled out using copper technology by Telstra.

Last year, the Government reformed its policy surrounding the rollout of fixed line communications in new developments — opening competition for other infrastructure providers from the likes of Telstra or Opticomm to provide new infrastructure while nbn remains the provider of last resort for developments with 100 premises or more. The change in policy also removes the requirement for fibre to be used as the primary technology in these new developments.

Telstra has not revealed whether the ~420 new developments are using FTTN-like technology, or simply being connected the existing exchange.  The company has also neglected to provide premises count in the dataset provided by data.gov.au.  It should be noted that Telstra is the provider of last resort for developments with less than 100 premises.

Since the policy changes have occurred, almost 6,600 new developments have entered the registrar. The majority of these developments remain serviced by nbn using Fibre to the Premises technology — however, other technologies have also begun appearing in the mix:

 Number of new developments FTTP Copper FTTB HFC
nbn 6,003
OPENetworks 36  22
OptiComm 101  4  1
Real World Networks 1
Telstra 2  417

The registrar on data.gov.au also lists a number of additional service providers including Comverge, Frontier Networks, LBN Co, Optic Networks, Pivit, Real World Networks and RedTrain Networks.  However, there are currently no developments listed as being serviced by those providers.

edit: Delimiter has received a response from Telstra regarding these new copper areas.  You can read their response here.

Telstra fibre cut over weekend: Dubbo NBN and ADSL services affected

Service providers including iiNet and Internode who use Telstra’s fibre for backhaul have been affected

A Telstra fibre that services the Dubbo exchange has been cut over the weekend, causing network disruptions to service providers who use on Telstra Wholesale as their backhaul service provider in Dubbo.

According to iiNet’s service status page, the break was first reported on Saturday evening and as of Sunday night, has yet to be resolved.  For iiNet and Internode customers, the service disruption affects both customers with ADSL or NBN services.

The latest estimated time to restoration on the fibre repair provided by Telstra Wholesale is reportedly Tuesday morning.

The NBN Dubbo Point of Interconnect services a vast surrounding region including:

  • Blayney (2BLA)
  • Broken Hill (2BNH)
  • Bourke (2BRK)
  • Bathurst (2BTH)
  • Canowindra (2CAN)
  • Cobar (2CBA)
  • Coonamble (2CMB)
  • Coonabarabran (2CNA)
  • Cowra (2CWR)
  • Dubbo (2DBB)
  • Gilgandra (2GIL)
  • Gulgong (2GUL)
  • Kandos (2KND)
  • Lightning Ridge (2LIT)
  • Lithgow (2LTG)
  • Mudgee (2MDG)
  • Molong (2MOL)
  • Narromine (2NMN)
  • Nyngan (2NYG)
  • Oberon (2OBO)
  • Orange (2ORG)
  • Peak Hill (2PKH)
  • Parkes (2PKS)
  • Portland (2POR)
  • Trangie (2TRG)
  • Wallerawang (2WAL)
  • Wellington (2WEL)
  • Walgett (2WLE)
  • Warren (2WRR)

NBN services provided by affected ISPs are likely to be affected by the outage.

Telstra retail services, which use a redundant fibre path, are not affected.

nbn™ logo (large)

NBN looking for FTTdp vendors

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, is seeking for an expression of interest from manufacturers of “Distribution Point Units” used to power a Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) network.

FTTdp is similar to the Fibre to the Node technology preferred by the current Government.  It enables faster speeds by bringing the fibre closer to the end user’s premises (often described as “fibre to the curb”).

In its request (found online on its tenders website), the company outlines the key requirements of interfacing with nbn‘s existing GPON solution as well as being able to power the unit from the premises it services.

  • Is designed to be typically deployed at a deeper delivery point in the nbn™ network, than can be otherwise achieved through current nbn™ xDSL technologies
  • Delivers nbn™ services into the premises over a pair in the existing copper lead-in cable via an xDSL interface
  • Is powered from the premises over the same copper pair used to carry service into the premises
  • Connects back towards the Point of Interconnect (POI) via nbn’s existing FTTP GPON solution

nbn expects to use Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) technology to service areas with longer copper loop lengths where Fibre to the Node cannot ordinarily deliver minimum download speeds of 25 Mbps.

Expression of interest closes on the 22 January 2016.