NBN Fibre NTD

SkyMesh first to offer speeds over 100/40 on NBN

Last night, internet service provider SkyMesh announced on broadband forum Whirlpool their new offering of symmetric 100/100Mbps download and upload speeds over nbn™ fibre to residential customers.  SkyMesh is the first nbn service provider to offer speeds of over 100/40Mbps to residential connections.

SkyMesh Managing Director, Paul Rees, says the push to provide 100/100 Mbps services came from their customers.  “I think it was first suggested on Whirlpool, then customers started calling to ask if we could provide any faster upload speeds at their premises.”

Paul says the interest initially came from small business customers who backup their data to the Cloud.

“We have a few customers who are graphic artists and one video production company that produces television advertising.  They were looking for a faster way to upload their large files, then they saw the faster speed plans on our website and called us.”

“These faster upload speeds are also ideal for people who use Dropbox and other file sharing applications.”

Plan costs stated on their website start at $99.95 with 30GB anytime data and 60GB off-peak data, with options to go to 2.4TB anytime data and 16TB off-peak data for $199.95.  The prices represent an increase of between $40-$50, compared with those with similar data allowances on the company’s 100/40Mbps plan.

SkyMesh's website showing 100/100 Mbps plans and pricing
SkyMesh’s website showing 100/100 Mbps plans and pricing

SkyMesh also states that can offer custom plans with and “will also do our best to match any Plan published by a competing NBN Co Access Seeker”.  However, with no other access seeker offering symmetrical 100Mbps speeds to residential customers, there is little opportunity to compare pricing.

Innovative use of 250/100 Mbps AVC

nbn™, the company responsible for running the National Broadband Network, does not offer symmetrical port speeds (AVC) of 100 Mbps over Traffic Class 4.  However, the service provider has indicated that they will instead use the 250/100 Mbps AVC option and speed limit the download to 100 Mbps while retaining uploads at full speed.  The higher tier AVC costs $35.20 including GST ($32.00, excl GST) more than the 100/40Mbps ($70 vs $38, excl GST).

Availability

The company states that “nbn co only offers the relevant AVC product to Fibre and FTTB services”. However, they will only be “offering these plans to end users on nbn™ fibre”.

SkyMesh also notes on its website that “plans faster than 100/40 Mbps are available at most, but not all, locations”.  They elaborate on their announcement thread on Whirlpool that some premises in the following areas will not have access to those speeds until nbn™ completes network upgrades:

  • Aitkenvale QLD
  • Armidale NSW
  • Bacchus Marsh VIC
  • Bombo NSW
  • Casey ACT
  • Goodna QLD
  • Jamberoo NSW
  • Kanahooka NSW
  • Kiama NSW
  • Minnamurra NSW
  • Mundingburra QLD
  • Redbank QLD
  • Willunga SA

SkyMesh is leading the way

The company, who has a direct relationship with nbn co, was originally a wireless and satellite broadband company offering services over their own wireless network in South East Queensland and on the IPSTAR.  However, with the rollout of the National Broadband Network, the company began offering services over nbn™ fibre, nbn™ fixed wireless and nbn™ interim satellite.

Since it started offering nbn services, it has become one of the most innovative providers.  It was one of the few service providers who trialed the up to 50/20 Mbps speed tier on nbn™ fixed wireless this year before its commercial launch, and will also be trialing the nbn™ long term satellite with select customers before its commercial launch next year.

The company is also the only service provider to offer unmetered Netflix traffic to customers over nbn™ fixed wireless, and also offers this feature to nbn™ fibre customers.

Fibre pit hauling

83k premises dropped from July NBN rollout plan

The devil is in the detail – July’s quarterly construction plan shows 83k premises removed from the nbn rollout plan.

Analysis of the 18 month rollout plan released in July by nbn has shown that around 83,500 premises previously listed as being in the 18 month plan had been removed.

The areas removed were slated for a Fibre to the Node rollout to commence during 2016 and include the areas of and surrounding:

New South Wales

  • Cessnock/Bellbird
  • Darlington Point

Queensland

  • Brassall
  • Currumbin
  • Helidon
  • Magnetic Island
  • Samford
  • Gold Coast/Tweed Heads
  • Mount Crosby
  • Sunshine Coast/Noosa
  • Pittsworth
  • Robina

South Australia

  • Flinders

Tasmania

  • Queenstown
  • Rosebery
  • Zeehan

(for more information, see full table at the end of the post)

At the start of July, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network announced in a media release that an additional 200,000 premises were added to the nbn rollout.

From initial calculations, this figure was derived from the total number of premises that were added to the rollout plan and does not take into account the number of premises removed from the plan.

If true, this means that the net increase in number of premises expected to commence construction within 18 months would be around 40% less than announced (from 200,000 to around 120,000 premises) in the July press release.

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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.

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NBN Fibre to the Node Trial at Umina Beach

It’s official: MTM takes over

Today, nbn™ updated their rollout map to include new areas where build preparation commenced last month.  As predicted on jxeeno blog last month, this month marks a milestone in the company’s implementation of the Multi-Technology Mix rollout methodology with all 152 of the new Serving Area Modules added set to MTM.

None of the areas added this month will use purely Fibre to the Premises – however, it is expected parts of some Serving Area Modules may use FTTP where economically feasible as part of the company’s established MTM deployment principles.  The majority of premises in the listed areas are expected to get a Fibre to the Node or Fibre to the Basement connection.  A further breakdown of technology-by-area or premises is not available on the company’s public website.

This comes as the company revealed that customers in the FTTN footprint will only be guaranteed 12/1 mbps during the transition period while ADSL services still exist on the copper network.

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NBN Fibre to the Node Trial at Umina Beach

nbn™: criteria for copper remediation revealed

Service may only reach the speed range once within 24 hours

The company building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has released details how it proposes to classify premises where “remediation is required”.

In the most recent draft of the Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA 2.2) released Access Seekers for FTTN Business Readiness Testing, nbn revealed that “NBN Co will designate that Remediation is required” where “25 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream for all bandwidth profiles other than 12 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream”.  The company also included an exception clause for the Fibre to the Node network where the speed is limited to 12/1 Mbps during the co-existence “transition” period.

While a premises is being designated for remediation, nbn™ says that speeds may be “significantly less than” the speeds ordered by the customer.

NBN Co outlines how premises that require remediation are classified
NBN Co outlines how premises that require remediation are classified

The company has also revealed for ranging speed tiers such as those used for the Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement products, the performance criteria for the Peak Information Rate (PIR) may only be reached the specified range “once” within a 24 hour period.

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

However, this performance guarantee applies only applies to the network that nbn™ provides to the service providers.  Additional factors such as service contention set by service provider may further degrade services received by the end user.

Inside an NBN node at Umina Beach

nbn™: FTTN limited to 12/1 Mbps during transition

While legacy services such as ADSL2+ exist on the Telstra copper network, speeds will be limited to reduce interference.

Despite what the documentations says, nbn™ has now denied (on the record) that they will “limit” speeds to 12/1.  Please refer to this post here for more information.

In the most recent draft of the Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA 2.2) released Access Seekers for FTTN Business Readiness Testing, nbn has revealed that speeds will be limited to 12/1 Mbps during the so-called “Co-existence Period” on the Fibre to the Node network.

During this period, all bandwidth profiles will be restricted to reduce interference with existing legacy services that run on the Telstra network.  A similar limitation will apply to Fibre to the Basement, however, the maximum speed will be limited to 25/5 Mbps rather than 12/1 Mbps.

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

In the document, the company said that the speeds will continue to be limited until “NBN Co is satisfied that Downstream Power Back-off is no longer required”:

11.5 Co-existence Period
NBN Co will disable Downstream Power Back-off in respect of an NBN Co Node when NBN Co is satisfied that Downstream Power Back-off is no longer required in respect of that part of the NBN Co FTTB Network or NBN Co FTTN Network (as the case may be). The Co-existence Period for Ordered Products supplied by means of that NBN Co Node will cease at such time.

FTTN BRT Special Terms – WBA 2.2 Draft – NEBS Product Description

Despite explicit wording of the documentation, however, a spokesperson for nbn™ has denied to technology publication ZDNet that they will limit speeds.  Instead, they have indicated that they will guarantee speeds of at least 12/1 mbps.

During the period when NBN is upgrading a suburb with ADSL to VDSL2 speeds will not be limited to 12/1Mbps. During this so-called ‘co-existence period’ line speeds on the NBN FttN service will still be substantially faster than those being delivered via ADSL2+ from the exchange

For customers who live close to the exchange, the speed attainable over the Fibre to the Node network may actually be lower during the “Co-existence period” than what’s possible over their existing ADSL2+ service.  The typical theoretical maximum speed for ADSL2+ is 24/1 Mbps and is delivered from the Telstra exchange.

ADSL and special services will "co-exist" with FTTN/FTTB during the transitional Co-existence Period
ADSL and special services will “co-exist” with FTTN/FTTB during the transitional Co-existence Period

However, since the duration of the Co-existence period varies depending in the area still using ADSL or special services – customers who experience greater speeds over ADSL2+ (greater than the 12/1 Mbps offered) would still need to migrate to NBN before NBN Co can declare the “Co-existence period” over.

Once the Co-existence Period is over, nbn™ will provide 12/1 Mbps and 25/5 Mbps speed profiles similar to those on Fibre to the Premises with higher speeds only available as an “up-to” range.  However, NBN Co also states in the document that it is considered acceptable if the customer only receives speeds set out in the PIR or PIR range “once” in 24 hours.

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

FTTN BRT Special Terms – WBA 2.2 Draft – NEBS Product Description (PDF)

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 Fixed Wireless Antenna (close up)

Update: nbn™ 3.5GHz LTE test sites

As reported earlier on jxeeno blog, nbn™ has begun testing the use of the 3.5GHz spectrum for Fixed Wireless in outer metropolitan areas.

The ACMA has updated the list of NBN Fixed Wireless towers where 3.5GHz transmitter and receivers have been installed:

Tower Location State ACMA site ID
51 Jupp St PROSERPINE Queensland 9017726
10 Morang Crescent MITCHELL PARK Victoria 9015336

Earlier, ZDNet reported that the antenna design for the 3.5GHz network will be similar to a “baseball mit”:

“that the antennas installed on top of the premises as part of the trial were designed similar to a “baseball mitt” in that although the 3.5GHz beam is relatively narrow, the capture of it on the antenna was wide to ensure that line to sight between the NBN Co tower and the premises’ antenna was maintained.”

However, the Department of Defense had raised concerns that utilising the 3.5GHz spectrum may interfere with radar capabilities.

While the actual assigned spectrum is 3.56GHz, the assignments were issued under nbn™’s existing 3.4GHz license which it acquired from the now defunct Austar satellite TV company. A full list of ACMA assignments can be found here.

nbn™ proposes satellite fees: rural customers lose out again

nbn™ has clarified some of the contents of the original post. The post has been updated in light of this new information.

As part of nbn™’s industry consultation on the Long Term Satellite Service launching next year, the company released a list of proposed charges for the satellite service to Access Seekers (service providers) for feedback last Friday. A summary table was released to the public this morning.

The table lists a number of new proposed charges, including a reactivation fee, installation, installer travel costs and a range of late or missed appointment fees.

Proposed incidentals charges for NBN Long Term Satellite
Table 2: showing some proposed charges for the NBN Long Term Satellite

Under the proposed charges, the company will charge the customer through the internet service provider an installation fee based on the distance the installer has to travel (charged at $1.40/km) and also pay an hourly rate for the time they spent driving and installing the equipment (at $98/hour). This is in contrast with nbn™’s current cost structure for the Fixed Wireless and Fixed-Line products where the installation is free for the customer.

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NBN technician splicing fibre in a van

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.

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