NBN Co offers new entry level bundle

With hefty penalty for exceeding included peak hour average

NBN Co, the company responsible for building and operating the National Broadband Network, will introduce a new $22.50 entry level bundle next month aimed at very low usage customers.

The new bundle discount will finally allow Retail Service Providers to include customers with 12/1 Mbps AVCs in the same pool of bundled CVC from other bundled offers. Each Entry Level Bundle will include a 12/1 Mbps AVC and 0.15 Mbps CVC, which contributes to a common pool shared with the High Bandwidth Bundle Discount which started in May 2018 and the Fixed Wireless Bundle Discount which started last month.

However, there is a catch. NBN Co will charge service providers who, on average, exceed 0.15 Mbps per AVC during peak hours an additional $22.50 per AVC. This prevents providers from taking full advantage of the included CVC from other included bundles.

NBN Co will use a new metric called “Daily Peak ELB Bandwidth Usage” to calculate the peak usage for billing purposes. It will use the highest 30 minute period of aggregated entry level bundle download usage to determine a daily peak usage. The peak usage is then averaged across the month to determine if the provider exceeded the threshold.

Providers who opt for the new entry level bundle will be excluded from the 50 Kbps CVC credit previously available for each AVC.

The bundle will be made available to providers from 2nd October.

Source: NBN Co

How far can you take an oBike?

I took one to Newcastle for a spin to find out

FYI – this post has been sitting in my drafts since October last year. Thought I might as well publish it now ?

If you live in Sydney or Melbourne, I’m sure you would have seen one of those dockless sharebikes by now. If not, you’ve certainly seen them featured in the news for ending up in the Yarra or up a tree.

One day, I had a thought:

So, that’s what I did. Not to Katoomba as I had originally tweeted, but to Newcastle.

One afternoon in October last year, I rode a bike parked near Central Station onto a NSW TrainLink V-set (#purpletrain) bound for Hamilton (Newcastle). Once on-board, I parked it in the designated public parking spot on the train — labelled clearly in the vestibule area — and locked it.

oBike parked in a public bike parking space on Newcastle-bound #purpletrain

About 3 hours later, the train pulled into Hamilton Station (the terminus of the Central Coast & Newcastle Line at the time). I unlocked the bike and took it for a quick spin around the block. One thing I was glad to see was the presence of dedicated bike lanes near Hamilton Station!

oBike parked at Hamilton Station
oBike app showing the bike in Hamilton

TPG tests 700MHz LTE in Sydney and Melbourne CBD

Small cell equipment mounted on existing power and light poles

TPG has begun a test deployment of small cell 4G radios in metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne. Last month, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) granted the telco a set of scientific licenses for testing.

The Sydney test deployment includes sites at 8 locations between Circular Quay and Martin Place.

Map of TPG’s 700MHz Sydney test small cells sites (Source: ACMA)

TPG is mounting its equipment on existing power poles and street lights. The picture below shows the deployment at Pitt St near Circular Quay, with radio equipment mounted on the side of the pole and two smaller antennas attached near the top.

Example of TPG small cell deployment at cnr of Pitt St and Alfred St

The Melbourne CBD deployment is much larger with around 80 sites in an area bounded by La Trobe St, Spring St, Flinders St and Spencer St.

Map of TPG’s 700MHz Melbourne test small cells sites (Source:
ACMA)

TPG acquired two 10MHz blocks of 700MHz in the leftover digital dividend auction in April last year. The telco paid $1.26bn for the right to use the spectrum until the end of 2029.

The temporary scientific assignments provided to TPG for testing are due to expire on 1st April 2018.

Bypassing the now defunct Driver Qualification Test (NSW)

The controversial Driver Qualification Test in NSW has now been scrapped, but old P2 drivers still have to sit it (or maybe not).

The NSW Driver Qualification Test (DQT) has been controversial since its introduction in 2000.

Questions from the knowledge section ranges from common sense questions like “what is a blindspot?” to questions on past statistics like “what’s the percentage of killing a pedestrian hitting them at 60km/h?”.

There’s also a hazard perception section where you watch dashcam footage and tap the screen when you spot hazards or when you think it’s safe to proceed.

Because the types of questions asked especially in the knowledge section, many people question its efficacy and see it merely as a revenue driver for RMS rather than a test that demonstrates driver safety.

Starting 20th November 2017, the test was scrapped as part of an overhauled Graduted Licensing Scheme. New P2 drivers no longer have to sit the test to move to a full license, however, drivers holding a P2 license issued prior to 20th November still have to sit the test.

Avoid doing the test

It turns out there’s a way around it. All you need to do is renew your P2 license first.

P2 licenses obtained prior to 20th November 2017 are valid for 30 months (and not the 36 months stated on the RMS website currently). You are eligible for license renewal 6 months prior to license expiry, meaning that you can renew your license once you’ve passed 24 months since you obtained your P2 license.

24 months is also the requirement for holding a P2 license before being able to move to an unrestricted full license.

The lady who served me at my local Service NSW was well aware of this quirk. I simply told her I wanted to renew my P2 and move to my unrestricted license — and she was only too happy to process that request.

This will set you back an extra $44 assuming you passed the DQT the first time — but there’s a non-zero chance you’ll fail the first time.

Note: This does not apply for a replacement license. You must renew your license in order to be moved to the new Graduated Licensing Scheme.

Why not just sit the test?

  • It costs $45 each time you sit the test. As per above, since there is a non-zero chance that you may fail the test, you may prefer to pay an $89 renewal fee rather than risk at least $90 if you fail the first time. It’s up to you.
  • Your time could be better spent than studying arguably pointless and outdated statistics about crashes, fatalities and injuries.

    Knowing that there’s a 70% chance (and not 80% chance) of killing a pedestrian when hitting them at 60km/h is probably not going to make you a better driver. That’s not to say all the knowledge questions asked are pointless — the Driver Qualification Handbook is still a good resource to read through.

  • Rather than spending time practicing and doing another hazard perception test, you could spend your time watch some dashcam footage of actual accidents on YouTube. Consider what you’ll do if you were in the driver’s position. You’re probably more likely to be more cautious if you watch an actual accident occur rather than simulated scenarios.
  • Your time could be better spent researching loopholes to avoid a now-defunct driver qualification test, as I have clearly done.

A smattering of thoughts on the new bundled CVC pricing

I’m a bit busy at the moment, but I thought I’d put together a few of my initial thoughts and questions on the new CVC pricing.

Thanks to a handy-dandy embargo, there are already a plethora of articles around detailing NBN Co’s new (proposed) pricing construct this morning… so, I won’t bore you with the exact details of the changes.

But if you’re not already up to speed, naturally I’d recommend a read of Angus Kidman’s article on the changes on finder.com.au… but this time, it’s also because it includes an analogy to pots and stovetops.

If that doesn’t float your saucepan, other articles are just a quick search away.

Back of napkin calculations

nbn™ 50

The new nbn™ 50 AVC with 2 Mbps of bundled CVC comes in at $45 ex GST vs $34 ex GST currently but with only 50 kbps CVC bundled1.

So the cost difference of $11 ($45 – $34 = $11) is what an RSP would have spent on CVC under the current model. Assuming the industry average charge of $14.25 per Mbps2, the $11 left over would allow them to purchase 0.77 Mbps ($11 / $14.25 per Mbps = 0.77 Mbps).

Since the new nbn™ 50 comes with 2 Mbps, this represents a 1.6x increase in CVC allocation per user for the same price. Not bad.

nbn™ 100

On the other hand, the new nbn™ 100 looks nowhere near as generous.

The new nbn™ 100 AVC with 2.5 Mbps of bundled CVC comes in at $65 ex GST vs $38 ex GST with the 50 kbps CVC credit bundled1.

Doing the same calculations as before, this leaves $27 for CVC under the current model. This is equivalent to ~1.89 Mbps of CVC using the industry average rate1, or a 0.3x increase in CVC allocation per user for the same price currently. That’s tiny.

Given this, I wouldn’t expect the take-up of the new nbn™ 100 product to be huge. The new construct effectively forces RSPs to buy at least 2.5 Mbps of CVC per user all year, all around… which could be a problem.

This constraint will likely deter providers (especially those in the low-cost market) from selling a 100/40 product since: a) CVC-equivalent cost per user is likely above the current annual CVC average cost per user on a 100/40 retail offering, and; b) it gives RSPs no flexibility to reduce CVC in the low-demand season.

Remember, bandwidth requirements can fluctuate seasonally — usually peaking during school holidays.

If NBN Co were to retire the current separated AVC/CVC product set completely (which, by the way, it has NOT said it would do), I’d be surprised to see any 100/40 Mbps plan priced under $110 retail.

More questions

The articles about the pricing changes so far are light on details. So, naturally, I have a few questions about the mechanics of the new products:

CVC mixing for bundled and unbundled products?

An interesting question is whether NBN Co will allow mixing existing unbundled and new bundled products in the future. I doubt they would — otherwise, providers will just buy a bunch of new nbn™ 50 products and allow other customers on the non-bundled AVCs to free-load off the bundled CVC.

How will Dimension-based CVC discount be calculated?

On the front of the Dimension-based CVC discount: if NBN Co allows both bundled and unbundled products to co-exist, will the average CVC allocation per user be calculated across both bundled and unbundled products?

If they don’t, RSPs may no longer be able to afford to offer services to low usage users. These users might cost RSP too much to bump up to the new product set, but since the average CVC per user in the unbundled segment has plummeted, it may cost them too much to leave on the unbundled segment as well.

But if they do, the unbundled products could end up hurting NBN Co’s bottom line more as NBN Co will likely have to pay out more of the dimension-based CVC Discount to RSPs who adopt the new bundled products but also retain a good smattering of unbundled products.

A word on industry average CVC

Note that I am using the industry average1 CVC pricing here as the benchmark.

Even if an RSP allocates more CVC per user on higher speed tiered AVC, the current dimension based CVC discount is calculated on the average CVC allocation per user across all CVCs — making the average a realistic comparison benchmark for most RSPs unless they skew significantly from average.

If they currently allocate more CVC per user than the industry average, the apparent savings under the new structure would be smaller because of the current Dimension-Based Discount.

Conversely, if they allocate less CVC per user than the industry average, the apparent savings under the new structure would be greater.

1 Currently, each AVC comes with a 50 kbps CVC credit. Since it’s such a small amount, we might as well disregard for the purpose of this discussion.
2 Industry average based on ACCC NBN Wholesale Market Report. Average CVC per user is 1.09 Mbps, falling within the 1000 to 1149 kbps bracket in NBN Co’s dimension based CVC discount. This is equivalent to $14.25 per Mbps of TC-4 CVC ex GST.

NBN Co releases third broadband agreement

Drops the “Co” and “Bitstream Service” from product name, but retains pricing structure

NBN Co, the company responsible for building and operating the National Broadband Network, released the third version of its Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA3) last Friday.

In the new agreement, the company renamed its main product previously known as “NBN Co Ethernet Bitstream Service” (NEBS) to simply “nbn™ Ethernet”.

The new agreement also combines several documents including the product description, technical specifications, price list and fair use policy into a single document now known as the “WBA nbn™ Ethernet Product Module”.

In a separate media release published on the NBN Co website, the company also revealed it plans to trial a new appointments system.  The new system will allow end users to reschedule appointments with installers directly, rather than having to contact through their service provider.

Pricing structure remains unchanged for now

Despite having recently consulted with its retail partners to make changes to current two-component pricing structure, the company did not include a new pricing structure in this version of WBA3.

The company has indicated it will reveal its intentions for the new pricing structure by the end of the year.

NBN Co to trial traffic lights services

Releases technical trial agreement for services to “non-premises transport infrastructure sites”

NBN Co, the company responsible for building and operating the National Broadband Network, has released a new test agreement to test the feasibility of using NBN services to connect transport infrastructure sites like traffic lights and cameras.

According to the test agreement, the trial is set to begin on or around 27th November and will run for approximately 17 weeks.

NBN Co plans to provide test services in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.  Service providers will also need to enter into an agreement with the relevant transport authority in each state to participate in the trial.

Only FTTN and FTTP to be tested

As part of the trial, NBN Co will only test the feasibility of two access technologies in the Multi-Technology Mix.  NBN Co will extend its Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) networks to agreed test sites.  However, the company’s third fixed-line access technology HFC will not be part of the trial.

The trial will also make use of a new FTTP small form-factor network termination device (SFP NTD) rather than the standard issue F-NTD used in standard premises.

nbn launches satellite mobility product

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

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

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

Pricing model

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

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

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

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

NEBS given traffic priority

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

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

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

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

Standard satellite product also revamped

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

nbn to pay RSPs for HFC NTD installation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Source: nbn]

nbn to charge for HFC NTD install from July

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing HFC modems

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

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

Additional data connections over HFC

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

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

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

[Source: nbn]