Opinion: iiDallas ruling may fix systemic piracy problem

Surprise ruling on online copyright infringement case may help Aussie consumers with pricing and availability of content in the long run.

In a surprise ruling of handed down by Justice Perram last week, Dallas Buyers Club LLC was denied access to the details of around 5,000 iiNet customers who are alleged to have pirated the movie using peer-to-peer technology — after the judge deemed that some damages that DBC wanted to claim from alleged infringers were “untenable”.

In summary, the judge determined that Dallas Buyers Club could only reclaim the cost of the film if it had been genuinely downloaded plus a proportion of the legal costs.  Perram described other claims sought by DBC as being “untenable”, denying the company from seeking:

  • A claim for an amount based on each person who had accessed the uploaded film from each downloader’s Torrent source; and
  • A claim for punitive damages depending on how many copies of other non-DBC copyrighted works had been downloaded by each infringer

Effectively, the ruling sets a precedent against so-called speculative invoicing in Australia where rights holders hold alleged pirates at ransom by demanding large sums (often in the thousands of dollars) or risk facing legal action.

Ruling will prompt rights holders to “do the right thing”

Unlike in other countries where speculative invoicing can be seen as a large source of income for rights holders, Perram’s ruling last week removes much of the financial benefit for rights holders to pursuit alleged pirates.  Legal action will only enable rights holders to recover costs of a regular sale of the film to infringers — and no more.

In effect, this would encourage rights holders to boost availability and affordability of its own content in Australia rather than risking the expensive and unpredictable process of legal proceedings to reclaim costs later down the road.  (Believe it or not, earning money straight away is probably better than not selling something, then suing something for stealing it, and then not knowing the outcome of those proceedings.)

Ruling “a big win” to Australian consumers in more ways than one

Not only is ransom speculative invoicing effectively “banned” by the ruling, it may in fact reduce piracy in the long run.

Traditionally, the island nation of Australia has always suffered from timely and affordable releases — especially TV shows or movies.  But the age of the Internet has changed everything and Australian consumers are able to jump the hurdles to access content intended for overseas or otherwise, pirated.

In June, I did an analysis on the most pirated movies in that month — and found that 67% of those movies were not available for legal digital purchase.  Just imagine if those movies were available for legal purchase!

Australians have long shown that they are willing to pay for content that is easily accessible and are at an affordable price.  The rapid uptake of paid, subscription services such as Netflix, Presto and Stan is evidence of this.

If rights holders continue their current trend of holding back digital releases in select countries, they may find themselves at a financially risky position of recouping limited sales costs.  They also risk the process backfiring on them, leaving them surplus legal costs and no net revenue gain.

So… perhaps now that legal action is shaping up to be not too attractive, rights holders will finally work together to and resolve complex geography-based licensing restrictions and restrictive DRM models to provide us as consumers “easy ways” to purchase content legitimately and legally.  One can dream.

Inside an NBN node at Umina Beach

Poor NBN FTTN/B design may lead to decades of congestion

“With a measly 2Gbps backhaul per node you can forget about 4K Netflix. FTTN is going to be no different to the current Telstra RIMs”

(analysis) Customers on the shiny new NBN FTTN and FTTB networks may find themselves left with slow and congested speeds for decades because of short-sighted network design decisions made by the company.

Analysis of the latest Network Design Rules for the NBN, dated 30th June 2015, reveals that customers may only be able to reach a committed information rate (CIR) of roughly 5Mbps on a fully loaded node – far short of the 25 mbps that popular internet streaming service Netflix says is required for 4K video streaming and also falls short of the Vertigan panel’s recommendation that 50% of Australians will only need 15 Mbps by 2023.

The calculation:

nbn™, the company responsible for building the NBN, currently deploys 4 Point-to-Point fibres from the Fibre Access Node (similar to an “exchange”) to the NBN node where the DSLAM equipment is located.  However, it also goes on to say that only 2 of the 4 fibres will be used for connectivity, with the other 2 reserved for “future growth or migration activities”.

NBN's Network Design Document explains 4 fibres will be allocated per NBN node with only 2 in service.
NBN’s Network Design Document explains 4 fibres will be allocated per NBN node with only 2 in service.

Each of the fibres will deliver a 1Gbps ethernet connection back to the NBN Access Aggregation Switch (AAS), totaling to an effective 2Gbps ethernet connection between the node and the Fibre Access Node – or 4Gbps if all 4 allocated fibres are used.

nbn™ introduces an Access Aggregation Switch (AAS) to combine traffic from multiple nodes to the POI
nbn™ introduces an Access Aggregation Switch (AAS) to combine traffic from multiple nodes to the POI

Also according to the document, depending on the DSLAM configuration, each of nbn™’s FTTN and FTTB nodes are capable of connecting up to 384 premises.

Table of NBN Copper DSLAM options
Table of NBN Copper DSLAM options

Taking all of the above into consideration, in a worse case scenario on a  fully-loaded node at peak hour, customers may only reach 5 Mbps if all traffic was distributed evenly:

Number of DSLAM ports Fibres used for uplink Entire node’s effective uplink (Mbps) Committed Information Rate (CIR, Mbps)
48 2 2000 41.7
192 2 2000 10.4
384 2 2000 5.2

Network design wreaks havoc for binge watching season

If a mere 21% of all premises connected to a node starts streaming a 4K stream on Netflix, the node will exceed its capacity.

As many saw with the launch of popular internet TV streaming service Netflix in Australia, telecommunications companies failed to predict the demand of the service leading to heavy network congestion across Australia’s major ISPs.

For some of Netflix’s popular productions like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, the company releases all the episodes of in their series at once.  This results in a brand new network usage “profile” that Australian ISPs and network providers like NBN have seen little of before… where customers continuously watch (binge) and subsequently stream content for hours on end.

If a mere 21% of all premises connected to a node starts streaming a 4K stream on Netflix (21% of 384 at 25 Mbps), the node will exceed its capacity.  This will leave zero bandwidth for the remaining 75% of customers potentially connected to the node.

While it can be expected that NBN’s QoS (quality of service) management will balance the load to prevent a small number of customers hogging the entire link, all customers across the board will suffer from congestion issues because of it.

With the increasing prevalence of Internet TV in Australia, the limited design of the NBN FTTN and FTTB networks will have lasting implications on what Australians will be able to do with their Internet connection.


 

FTTP upgrade path, uncertain

nbn™ has also indicated that they will only deploy 12 fibres up to an NBN node, making it difficult to upgrade an NBN FTTN or FTTB node area to fibre without significant downtime or extensive civil works.

nbn™ is introducing the star topology for the MTM rollout to save money
nbn™ to rollout 12-core fibre to each node, rather than the existing 36 to save money

Assuming a fully loaded 384 port NBN node is to be upgraded from FTTN to FTTP, with 4 fibres already allocated to the FTTN DSLAM for connectivity back to the Fibre Access Node, 8 fibres are remaining to potentially deliver fibre services all the way to the customer’s premises.

However, the 8 fibres will only be capable of delivering GPON services (the FTTP technology that the NBN currently uses) to a maximum of 256 premises (each fibre can be split into 32 premises, 8 × 32 = 256).

Without causing massive disruption to all customers connected to the current node, it may not be possible to transition to FTTP on high-capacity nodes other than by rolling out the network from scratch again.

This means that even if nbn™ decides to upgrade the network, they will likely continue using copper-based technologies for the years ahead to avoid large capital costs again.

(edit) further reading: You can read nbn’s side of the story in their blog post here.

CVC remains the single biggest threat to NBN

Standard 12/1 mbps plan could rise to over $150 if pricing model doesn’t drastically change

Despite the debate about technology used, the cost of NBN’s CVC remains the single biggest threat to the NBN’s success.

While the availability of high-speed, unlimited broadband grows in developed nations around the world, the future of “unlimited broadband” in Australia is becoming increasingly bleak.  The use of applications requiring greater amounts of bandwidth grow in households is partially to blame, but the country transitions to the NBN – the way nbn designs their pricing structure will also be increasingly important.  Currently, the NBN pricing structure is far too cost prohibitive for the amount of traffic the network is designed to carry.

What is this CVC thing?

Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) is a virtual charge imposed by NBN to service providers to offload your traffic from the NBN network into the service provider’s network.  After a discount introduced at the start of the year, NBN charges $17.50 per Mbps of traffic shared across the ISP’s customer base.  Initially, the cost was $20 per Mbps.

This is in addition to the cost of physical interconnect connection between the provider and NBN (called the Network-Network Interface, NNI) plus the cost that NBN charges for the link between your home and NBN’s point of interconnect (known as the Access Virtual Circuit and User-Network Interface, AVC/UNI).

The Netflix effect

It became pretty obvious after the launch of Netflix in Australia that the current pricing structure is unsustainable.  With the high-bandwidth of the NBN, customers expect to stream movies and TV shows with plenty of remaining capacity to do additional work in the background.

To be able to deliver a HD stream, Netflix recommends 5Mbps of bandwidth.  To be able to guarantee at least a single stream to every household, ISPs need to purchase 5Mbps of CVC per household:

$17.50 × 5 Mbps = $87.50

This neglects costs like the actual cost of connecting you to the Internet (Backhaul/IX costs) and link between your home and NBN’s point of interconnect – which start at $24 for 12/1 Mbps. Backhaul and IX costs depend on the ISP’s deals with backhaul providers and the volume they have – but consider $10 per mbps a reasonably conservative estimate. So, for a typical 12/1 connection that can consistently deliver at least 5 Mbps:

Cost element Cost
CVC – 5 Mbps $87.50
AVC/UNI – 12/1 Mbps $24.00
Backhaul/IX Costs – 5 Mbps $50.00
Total $161.50

Since a typical 12/1 NBN plan costs far less than the $161.50, you can understand where the compromise lies –  CVC, IX and backhaul.

While you wouldn’t necessarily expect that all users will simultaneously watch Netflix at the same time, the number of simultaneous streamers is growing exponentially.  ISPs also need to prepare for “extraordinary” events like when Netflix released the entire season of Orange is the New Black – a far greater proportion of users will be watching Netflix at the same time for an extended period of time.

Future of small providers

With the high CVC costs, small providers will find it increasingly hard to compete with larger providers like Telstra, Optus, iiNet and TPG.  These providers either have enough traffic volume (or own their own backhaul infrastructure) to lower costs in the backhaul or IX component to offset the high CVC.

Smaller providers still need to “rent” capacity from backhaul infrastructure providers such as Telstra, AAPT, PIPE and Nextgen Networks.  With even large providers like iiNet feeling the pinch, it’s no wonder that smaller ISPs are beginning to struggle.  Even with the scale of a large customer base, current consumer cost expectations are simply unsustainable.

What’s a solution?

nbn™ could continue dropping the CVC charge as demand increases, however, it faces the risk that service providers will continue to skimp out on CVC – thus lowering revenue.

The good news is the company has also begin conducting a second round of industry consultation to help overcome the problem.

For me, one solution I can see feasible, is to replace the CVC cost with a standard capacity charge (which guarantees a certain ratio of CVC to AVC) comparable to current industry contribution to CVC per user.  Then, provide capacity boosts for users and applications that require a greater capacity.  This guarantees “minimum” revenue for nbn™ and increases capacity to suitable levels for service providers.

Alternatively, I could see increasing the user-connect costs (AVC/UNI) and drastically cutting CVC costs as a possible solution.  This would also guarantee revenue to a certain extent, while retaining the control of contention with service providers.

Whatever happens, the nbn™ pricing model needs to change drastically in order for Australia to remain competitive in the 21st century.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to be slowed down by a “virtual” cost-prohibitive charge by our nationwide broadband network.

nbn™ logo (large)

nbn™’s blog struggles with balance

Bias or truth? nbn™’s official blog just can’t stop attacking the former Government’s Fibre to the Premises policy. Does this fall foul of the GBE guidelines?

Along with last year’s flashy redesign of the then “NBN Co” website, the company introduced a “blog” section to their revamped site.  Whether you liked it or not, at that point the NBN rollout had transitioned to the Multi-Technology Mix strategy. However, it became evident quite quickly that this site is being used to trash the former Labor Government’s NBN policy while parading the current Government’s policy of the “Multi-Technology Mix” rollout.

I’ve completed an analysis of all 127 blog articles posted on the nbn™ blog, as at the morning of 24th June 2015.  The results are not surprising (see the table at the bottom for my full results):

Clear evidence of bias

Not an FTTN party pooper

For example, nbn™’s blog is all too happy to spruik British Telecom’s (BT) headline up-to speed of 76Mbps download.  The figure pops up numerous times in nbn™ blog posts, including here and here.  But when it was revealed that 74% of households could not reach the headline 76Mbps speed at all, nbn™ was silent.  One might say, it’s bad to push a negative impression of its rollout own rollout strategy to the community.  But then, why would nbn™ be more than happy to trash the Fibre to the Premises technology on its blog, given it accounts for almost a quarter of the MTM rollout.

FTTP? Neverrr!

Likewise, even when there’s positive news about a particular FTTP rollout, the company blog always takes a negative spin about the topic on hand.  For example, when Singapore announced nationwide 1Gbps speeds over FTTP – nbn™ immediately went on the negative focusing on the issues of the aggressive competition in Singapore.  Keep in mind, these issues will never affect Australia as no incumbent telco has the money to roll out such a network across such a vast landmass… which is why the NBN existed in the first place.

(more…)

Incorrect documentation: FTTN speeds will *not* be 12/1 during transition

Conflicting definitions and redundant tautology leads to confusion. Co-existence period Peak Information Rates are a “guarantee to RSPs… not a cap on speeds”.

It’s been a good four days since I published my piece about how the latest draft Wholesale Broadband Agreement says that Fibre to the Node speeds will be limited to 12/1 Mbps during the transition period.  To put it frankly, I was hoping it was wrong because technically:

  • Use of Downstream Power Back-off (DPBO) will reduce interference
  • Capping the speed will have no significant effect (if any) on reducing interference
  • Would be unnecessarily limiting speeds of end users who are very close to the node

The good news is it a spokesperson for NBN Co (probably not “officially”) has said the original post I wrote is wrong.  That gives a glimmer of hope that NBN Co will not be limiting speeds to 12/1 Mbps during the transition period.  But given past experience with spokespeople at NBN Co denying things that actually exist, I’d still take it with a grain of salt.

Assuming that the spokesperson is correct though:

How did it come to this?

Well, in short: incorrect documentation.

Part 1: What’s a Peak Information Rate?

Noting it is a draft document, it seems evident that the person who wrote the section about the co-existence period didn’t know what the definition of PIR (Peak Information Rate) is.

Firstly, we have the section about co-existence period (Page 9 of the NEBS Product Description, for those playing along at home) that clearly says: “during the Co-existence Period, the PIR (and the lower end of any PIR range) at the UNI for each AVC TC-4 bandwidth profile will be… [12/1 in the NBN Co FTTN Network]”:

Table showing the speed limitations for FTTN/FTTB during Co-existence Period
Table showing the speed limitations for FTTN/FTTB during Co-existence Period

So, it seems pretty clear that the Peak Information Rate and the lower end of any Peak Information Rate range will be 12/1 Mbps on Fibre to the Node… right?

Your natural instinct would be to lookup what the Peak Information Rate is… and to my delight, there’s a whole section on it! (my bold)

NBN Co outlines its speed performance criteria for Peak Information Rate (PIR)
NBN Co outlines its speed performance criteria for Peak Information Rate (PIR)

References to download and upload speeds (PIR and CIR) in this Product Description, including where expressed as a range, are to the maximum data throughput that the NBN Co Network is designed to make available to Customer at the UNI used to serve the relevant Premises, and not the minimum data throughput.

Now, given “during the Co-existence Period, the PIR (and the lower end of any PIR range) at the UNI for each AVC TC-4 bandwidth profile will be… [12/1 in the NBN Co FTTN Network]”… it seems pretty clear that the 12/1 mbps is a “maximum data throughput that the NBN Co Network is designed to make available… and not the maximum data throughput” (to quote the document word-for-word). And that makes it effectively a cap and a limit… right?

“Wrong.”

“Wrong? What do you mean wrong?”

So, there you go! If we’re trusting what NBN is saying: Peak Information Rate is now both “not the maximum data throughput” and also is the “minimum guaranteed speed” at the same time. #notconfusing

Part 2: The Fibre to the Basement scenario

The company also included a row for the Fibre to the Basement conditions during the co-existence period.  They state that the Peak Information Rate will be 25/5 except for 12/1 which obviously will have 12/1 mbps.

But if the co-existence period doesn’t “limit” or “cap” the speeds, why is there a row for FTTB there in the first place?  All speeds delivered over copper using the NBN Co FTTB network, by default, can only guarantee 25/5 mbps – as shown in the table of speeds below:

Table showing the FTTN/FTTB AVC speed ranges in the draft of WBA 2.2
Table showing the FTTN/FTTB AVC speed ranges in the draft of WBA 2.2

So:

  1. if during the co-existence period, 25/5 is going to be the guaranteed rate, having the FTTB row in the first table is redundant tautology and means nothing.
  2. therefore, it would imply that during the co-existence period, the speed will not exceeded 25/5 Mbps, hence having the requirement to say so in the WBA.

“No.”

“No. What do you mean no?”

NBN Co must like redundant tautology.

How would I phrase it?

Like this:

during the Co-existence Period, the NBN Co FTTB Network will be unaffected. The following PIR (and PIR ranges) on the NBN Co FTTN Network will become:

Original Co-existence Period
AVC TC-4 downstream Mbps (PIR) AVC TC-4 upstream Mbps AVC TC-4 downstream Mbps (PIR) AVC TC-4 upstream Mbps
25 5 12-25 1-5
25 5-10 12-25 1-10
25-50 5-20 12-50 1-20
25-100 5-40 12-100 1-40

See?  All fixed!  No confusion at all.

nbn™ logo (large)

The ultimate name style guide for NBN Co Ltd

Thought you understood the terminology behind the National Broadband Network?  Bets are that you probably don’t even know what to call the name of the company.

Today, we look at the names that the company building the National Broadband Network uses and how confusing it can get:

Name What it means?
NBN Co Limited The actual (registered) company name for the company building the National Broadband Network
nbn The trading name of NBN Co Limited. Refers to the company
(nbn must be in bold!)
nbn An occasionally acceptable way to refer to the company, NBN Co Limited.
(nbn must be in bold, ™ is not in bold)
nbn™ Refers to the products and services of nbn, and not the company.
NBN Refers to the network that the company is building: the National Broadband Network
nbn co ltd Another name that refers to the company NBN Co Limited that’s usually used in footers. Generally inconsistent usage
NBN Co Used to refer to the company NBN Co Limited before the rebranding.

nbn spent $700,000 to rebrand their company late April, in a hope to “streamline” the brand.  But in truth, it has probably caused more confusion than anything.  Hopefully, this guide has helped clear up some of the ambiguities of calling the company.

But if in doubt, just continue to use NBN Co.  No one really cares.

FAQ

Help! I only have pen and paper… how do I write nbn in bold?

Just continue to using “NBN Co”.  No one really cares.

Help! I don’t have a rich text editor… how do I write nbn in bold?

Just continue to using “NBN Co”.  No one really cares.

Publisher’s note: This, in no way, constitutes the view of nbn, nbn™, nbn co ltd, NBN Co or NBN Co Limited (or however you want to write it). If you haven’t realised by now, I find this naming convention absolutely crazy and unnecessarily confusing.

With the “level of confuse” I have right now, I probably got something wrong up in that table.  Please let me know if I do 🙂

nbn™ logo (large)

Why trademarking the NBN will be a bad idea

(opinion) NBN Co Limited, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network (NBN), began trading as simply nbn™ from this morning. This means that simply by changing the letter casing (upper-case to lower-case) you will be referring to different things: nbn™ (the company) and NBN (the network/physical infrastructure).

But notice that ™ sign next to the lower-case nbn™? It’s a trademark symbol, but not a registered trademark. They carry a characteristic circle-R symbol — ®. Presently, NBN is a registered trademark for the following classes:

Class: 16 Adhesives for stationery or household purposes; plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); printer’s type; printing blocks

Class: 25 Clothing; footwear; headgear

But since 2012, the company has been trying to register a trademark for the word “NBN” for a far broader application of the word… but it is still pending to-date.

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NBN Co culls more areas from rollout map

Following a map update yesterday, NBN Co has removed approximately 58 thousand premises that were previously slated for a Fibre to the Premises rollout from its rollout map.

These premises, spread across 22 Serving Area Modules (SAMs) in NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and WA, were all in the Build Preparation phase where Telstra’s pit and pipe remediation works commences and detailed designs of the SAM being finalised with NBN Co’s construction partners.

The majority of these SAMs are covered by Telstra’s or Optus’ HFC networks, which NBN Co is expected to acquire, upgrade and integrate into the National Broadband Network as part of their so-called “Multi-Technology Mix” rollout strategy. It is expected that most of these areas will now be delayed until the HFC deals are finalised and rollout commences.

However, there are also some areas such as Dubbo (2DBB-06) that are not covered by the HFC networks but were still removed from the map.

Update 15/04/15: According to Daily Liberal, 2DBB-06 was delayed due to an “over ambitious” rollout sequencing by NBN Co.

A full list of SAMs removed, their coverage localities and the approximate number of premises covered by each SAM can be found below. Dave Cooper has also collated and compared the maps of the areas removed. He has tweeted GIFs of the before and after SAMs removed. They can be found below the opinion piece 🙂

SAM ID Localities Approx. # of Premises
2BLK-08 Doonside 2,700
2DBB-06 Dubbo 2,400
2CAM-03 Campsie 2,700
2CAM-04 Campsie, Belfield 2,800
2HOM-05 Strathfield South, Belfield 2,800
2HOM-06 Greenacre 2,600
2LIV-06 Warwick Farm 2,600
2LIV-09 Moorebank 2,600
3FSR-02 West Footscray, Footscray 2,400
3FSR-11 Footscray 2,400
3KEY-06 Keysborough 2,600
3WER-04 Wyndham Vale 2,400
4AAR-04 Sunnybank Hills, Runcorn 2,800
4AAR-05 Karawatha, Runcorn, Stretton, Calamvale 2,800
4APL-05 Carseldine, Bridgeman Downs 2,400
4BDB-04 New Chum, Redbank, Collingwood Park 1,900
4NDG-04 Nundah, Northgate 3,700
4NDG-05 Wavell Heights, Nundah 2,900
4NDG-06 Virginia, Wavell Heights, Northgate 2,900
5MOD-08 Redwood Park, Modbury Heights 2,300
6APP-05 Winthrop 2,600
6SPT-05 Como 2,700
Total 58,000

Opinion: the good, and the bad

(opinion) It’s not the first time that NBN Co has removed areas from the rollout map, and it won’t be the last. But it’s another significant reduction of premises covered by the Fibre network.

The good news is that NBN Co is deciding to make better use of tax payers money in achieving its expectations (as outlined in the Statement of Expectations, which only requires min. 25 mbps, remember!). Once DOCSIS 3.1 is rolled out, the HFC network upgrade will be vastly better than current HFC services and indeed — should be able to deliver speeds comparable to the current FTTP network.

The sad news is that you won’t get fibre (but it’s okay!) and you probably won’t get faster internet for some time yet… at least until the HFC deal is finalised and the upgrades are done.

It is disappointing to see NBN Co add these areas, knowing the HFC deal was ahead, then backtrack and remove these areas silently. No doubt, there will be many disappointed people around Australia that their beloved fibre connections will no longer come to them.

I believe that, as hard as it may be, NBN Co has a role in informing these communities that they were removed from the map for a reason and not to fear. To have them on as “build preparation has commenced”, then suddenly remove them because of a change in policy that was known months in advanced will only cause confusion and angst in the community.

(more…)

NBN Co's transit network

NBN Co reveals 18 month rollout plan

NBN Co released their new multi-technology “rollout plan” for a forward looking plan of the next 18 months. In their limited rollout plan release, which bares little resemblance or detail previously seen in NBN rollout plans, the company lists the area and the technology planned for use in their 18 month forward plan.

The plan lists on a suburb level, the number of premises NBN Co plans to pass within the next 18 months. It also lists the possible technology types (Fibre to the Premises, Multi-Technology Mix, or Wireless) but does not indicate which (nor how many) premises are covered by which technology.

In usual NBN Co style, the file was published in a stupidly inaccessible format (PDF) — see my complaints here. The official response I got for this format was “to ensure the integrity of our data”… but by exporting the spreadsheet as a PDF, it means the integrity of the data is highly compromised given anyone who wants to do something useful with the data would need to go through a massive amount of conversion needed to get it in a usable format. Given the statement of expectation’s requirement for NBN Co to be transparent, publishing PDF files is clearly just a deterrent for the public to analyse information.

Anyway, I spent a good hour or so putting the data back into an Excel spreadsheet for easier consumption. You can find that here.

Now that I put it all back into an Excel spreadsheet, I was able to do a quick analysis of the technology breakdown (sorta):

Technology Breakdown

Technology Premises
FTTP Only 161,000
MTM Only 1,383,900
Either FTTP/MTM 243,000
Fixed-line Total 1,787,900
Fixed Wireless 126,600
Total 1,914,500

Also — almost seemly as an afterthought, NBN Co reveals at the bottom of their press release that their rollout plan includes 19% underserved areas vs a nation-wide figure of 16%.

NBN technicians

Nextgen’s NBN aggregation closes: should we reconsider 121 POIs?

As a wholesale service provider for NBN Co’s “tails”, Nextgen finally fallen to its knees after they announced order halts, price increases and encouragement to their RSP customers to migrate their customers off its “Virtual Connect” product – in essence, they are closing.

As one of the first providers to provide aggregated wholesale products to Layer 3 retail service providers, Nextgen initially gained footing as a wholesale platform for providers who wanted a mix of UNI-V products as well as data. They sold fixed quota plans to service providers who also marked up the price for a fixed profit. A pretty good deal to dive into the NBN service provider business with little overhead or risks.

As customer numbers grew, however, Nextgen struggled to scale their network to cope with the demand. No doubt the high cost of transit to the multiple NBN points of interconnect and CVC/NNI charges would have played a massive role in this. From the people I’ve spoken to, the network’s quality continued to deteriorate over the years. I suspect for most areas, they didn’t have the numbers or the capacity to purchase CVC and transit above that of the 150Mbps “CVC credit” provided by NBN Co.

However, as the market for wholesale service providers grew (especially with the rise of AAPT’s Layer 3 National Wholesale Broadband product), many Layer 3 providers began to shift to this alternate platform which gave them control over contention and network capacity. The AAPT product is a whole different ball game with the risk of contention falling right at the hands of the service provider. Also, AAPT’s recent introduction of their “NBNPhone” product meant that Layer 3 providers no longer had to rely on Nextgen to get provide UNI-V services to their customers.

What now?

Well, what now? It’s obvious that without solid customer numbers, a network provider would struggle to get into the game of wholesale service for NBN. With the investment required to get transit and CVC/NNI at each of the 121 Points of Interconnect, it’s unlikely that this will change in the near future.

While I know providers like Telstra Wholesale and Optus Wholesale all provide Layer 2 products for resellers, I don’t know if they provide the all-in-one “Layer 3” product that many start-up RSPs need in order to get started. Start-up providers rely on these Layer 3 products and simply don’t have the funds or resources to buy and set up their own co-lo equipment and their own upstream bandwidth at the IX level.

Final thoughts

With Nextgen now out of the game, this leaves AAPT and (I think) M2 Wholesale in the running to attract RSPs for Layer 3 products. Despite ACCC’s intentions, the 121 POI decision has actually led to decreased competition at the wholesale aggregation level. Oops.