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.
But will lock you in for 12 months if the existing copper line isn’t up to scratch
The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, will begin offering line remediation to business services unable to reach their committed speeds over the copper network.
Business level services delivered over Traffic Class 2 (TC-2) have a committed information rate (CIR) which effectively guarantees a connection’s transfer rate. Typical residential services are provisioned over Traffic Class 4, which has a peak information rate (PIR) describing the “up to” transfer rate achievable over the line.
The company is already offering TC-2 services over its FTTN and FTTB network with symmetrical transfer speeds of 5, 10 or 20 Mbps. However, according to the current Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA), the company is currently not committing to its Committed Information Rate — stating:
“the actual Information Rate experienced by Customer, Downstream Customer or the relevant End User, may each be significantly less than the downstream CIR and upstream CIR of the bandwidth profile ordered by Customer in respect of the relevant Ordered Product”
According to the revised WBA on its website, the company will enable customers to submit a trouble ticket to remediate the copper line. However, nbn will also require the end user to take up the service for at least 12 months or will have to pay an early disconnection or modification fee.
Increased FTTN performance objectives
nbn is also increasing its network availability operational target on the FTTN Network from 99.70% to 99.80%. The agreement states that “operational targets are non-binding and aspirational”.
The new wholesale broadband agreement will become effective in early December 2016.
NBN and the Coalition backtracks after facing massive community backlash for forcing thousands of homes and businesses in west coast Tasmania onto satellite
It’s possibly the height of hypocrisy. The Government who led the charge to remove fixed-line communications in thousands of homes and business in Tasmanian West Coast communities is now “announcing” that they’re rolling out Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fixed Wireless networks in the townships of Queenstown, Rosebery, Zeehan and Strahan after massive community backlash.
Queenstown, the largest of the communities, already has existing fixed-line infrastructure including ADSL2+ and 4G mobile connections provided by Telstra. The initial commitment by the former NBN-management was to rollout Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to Queenstown, Rosebery and Zeehan. This later changed to Fibre to the Node (FTTN) when the Coalition’s preferred Multi-Technology Mix model was introduced.
However, jxeeno blog’s analysis of the 18 month construction plan last July showed these areas were removed from the Fixed-Line rollout schedule. It was later revealed in a Senate hearing that these towns were permanently removed after from the fixed-line rollout in favour of the long term satellite service. This is despite the Coalition’s initiated Strategic Review modelled that the satellite beam servicing west coast Tasmania will likely be “severely oversubscribed”.
Up until this week, Queenstown remained the largest suburb covered entirely by the Long Term Satellite Service — originally intended for remote communities.
After strong community resistance arguing that their “new” national broadband network connections will be worse than their existing ADSL2+ services (in terms of latency and data allowances) and continued questioning by Tasmanian Labor Senator Anne Urquhart in various Senate hearings — it looks like for once, politics and community resistance has finally made a difference to the National Broadband Network’s so-called Multi-Technology Mix.
Now only if the broader outcry for reforming the Multi-Technology Mix is heard.
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”.
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 f@st 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 has strongly refuted suggestions that their node’s backhaul link is already hitting capacity, and figures seem to match their assertion.
(analysis) The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has refuted claims that backhaul congestion is the primary cause of slow speeds experienced by users on its recently-launched Fibre to the Node network. As a matter of distinction, this is separate from the blog post I wrote 7 months ago about long-term capacity challenges faced by nbn. In this post, we are discussing congestion issues faced by current customers.
If we examine the figures closely, there simply isn’t enough customers on each node (yet) to need to worry about backhaul congestion yet. In raw numbers, the lucky chaps in Belmont North connected to node 10 in Belmont 7 (2BLT-07-10) had just a smidgen under 100 premises connected at the start of this month. This is followed closely by node 5 in Belmont 5 and node 2 in Belmont 1 in the raw take-up of high 80s.
Node (ADA) ID
Node premises count
Currently active premises
If we consider the FTTN AVC profile revealed in estimates (13% on 12/1 Mbps, 50% on 25/5 Mbps, 25% on 50/20 Mbps and 12% on 100/40 Mbps), we can consider an aggregate average downlink AVC of roughly 39 Mbps per FTTN user. At roughly 100 per node sharing 1GE uplink fibre, even during full saturation — each user would get on average an uncontended 10 Mbps link. That’s better than a 1:4 contention ratio — well above most, if not all, residential-grade services.
Of course, I’m not privy to NBN’s network utilisation graphs. But I’m fairly confident that they will show in each node, there is currently plenty of buffer space.
As I’ve said in an earlier blog post, node-based congestion can really only be expected during peak times on a fully loaded node. Without wider saturation of 4K TVs at this point in time, the entire neighborhood of 100 premises must stream at least 2 HD Netflix or YouTube video simultaneously before there starts to be congestion issues — a virtually impossible scenario.
We don’t know what may happen in the future. Perhaps when 4K becomes more mainstream, it will become an issue. The scenario I posed was 25% of customers simultaneously streaming 4K is all it would take to congest a full loaded node. But at least for now, it’s pretty safe to say that this particular factor is not major concern.
So if it’s not node backhaul, what is it?
It must suck to be in this situation currently. When you have end users posting speed tests well below 10 Mbps download “consistently”, you know there is an issue somewhere. Whether it’s a sync speed issue, CVC underprovisioning, packets being dropped by nbn somewhere within the network or something else altogether — testimony given by CEO Bill Morrow at the recent Senate Estimates suggests that nbn and service providers are working through it bit by bit to diagnose. One thing’s for sure, it’s most probably nothing to do with node backhaul congestion yet.
Tasmanian communities of Queenstown, Rosebery, Zeehan and Strahan will be forced onto an already “severely oversubscribed” satellite beam.
The company building the National Broadband Network (nbn) has revealed that they will no longer provide a fixed-line or fixed wireless solution to major settlements located along the west coast of Tasmania.
Up till July this year, nbn has released various rollout plans showing the towns of Queenstown, Rosebery, Zeehan and Strahan as candidates for the Multi-Technology Mix (MTM) and Fixed Wireless rollouts which would have seen Fibre to the Node be rolled out to the majority of premises. The area was also expected to receive a Fibre to the Premises rollout under the previous all-fibre NBN policy.
Queenstown: 1,300 FTTN
Rosebery: 600 FTTN, 300 FW
Zeehan: 500 FTTN
Strahan: (originally planned for NBN Fixed Wireless)
However, when questioned by Senator Anne Urquhart at a Senate Estimates hearing last month — nbn‘s chief executive Bill Morrow revealed that they have re-allocated premises in those areas to be serviced by the recently launched NBN Satellite. Citing high costs of up to $20 million to build out a second fibre path to the west coast towns, the executive said:
Because of the cost to provide fibre services in the backhaul sense to serve within the FTTN. The area only has one fibre path going out to it, and you need to have two for redundant based services. The cost—and we have looked at it a number of different times—to provide fibre out there in a different path makes it exorbitantly expensive.
The move to satellite has also been independently confirmed using NBN’s internal technology modelling. However, the towns affected are all currently being serviced by Telstra ADSL/ADSL2+ services, with Queenstown having access to the Telstra 4G network as well.
“Severely Oversubscribed” Satellite Beams
The beams servicing this area, number 54 and 56, has also been identified by NBN’s Fixed Wireless/Satellite Strategic Review as being “severely oversubscribed” prior to the redesignation of the fixed-line footprint in July. Adding another 3,000 premises would not improve the satellite congestion anticipated in those areas.
However, given the availability of existing ADSL/ADSL2+ services in those towns, it is unlikely that residents will switch to the National Broadband Network due to increased latency. As revealed last month, nbn will implement a fair use policy for the NBN satellite. While the final policy is yet to be confirmed, the first version released saw a standard quota of 75GB per month… a far cry from the current data quotas on comparable ADSL plans.
A report written by Engineers Australia in 2010 stated that the affected towns (amongst others) were serviced by Telstra using microwave backhaul links rather than fibre at the time it was written. However, the testimony given by nbn executives at Senate Estimates suggests that a single non-redundant fibre path has been built since the report was written.
Originally, it appears that nbn had planned to build its transit network out to Queenstown (see diagram below, published in March 2014) using a single non-redundant spur fibre path from Sheffield or Burnie.
$20 million to build a redundant path to service ~3,000 potential customers does seem unreasonably high. I don’t think it’s wise to go ahead to do spend that money.
However, it does beg the question why NBN cannot use their own microwave links as the redundancy path to service the west coast communities. Given there is supposedly already a single fibre path that nbn can utilise, using microwave links as a redundancy path would surely be cheaper than fibre — right?
nbn has effectively neglected these communities. I doubt anyone who lives in an area with existing, well-established communications infrastructure like ADSL/ADSL2+ connections and Telstra 4G mobile reception would opt for a NBN Satellite connection given their smaller data allowances (compared with fixed-line DSL) and higher latency. This is most unfortunate, given National Broadband Network is supposed to fix and improve connectivity around Australia — not offer a degraded version of it.
I’ve seen isolated cases like this in the past — people able to access existing DSL broadband but placed on the satellite… but not to this scale. Not entire communities like this.
Yes, nbn‘s current Government policy is to build the network out “at the least possible cost”… but that doesn’t mean putting thousands of premises into an already severely congested satellite beam! Our former communications minister, now PM’s buzzword of being “agile” seems to be lost at nbn. Surely as a special case, there can be alternative arrangements made for the redundant path?
Did we miss an opportunity to get an FTTP+HFC rollout? Figures from NBN’s stragegic review suggest a two-stage FTTN to G.Fast upgrade could now cost more than if we just stuck with FTTP
Even before they’ve switched on a single Fibre to the Node customer — nbn, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, has been busy spruiking their plans to trial and eventually upgrade Fibre to the Node to G.Fast technology to the media.
However, acccording to estimates made in the company’s Strategic Review, building the Fibre to the Node network now and upgrading to Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) using G.Fast technology would have saved a mere $2 billion dollars compared with a “radically redesigned” Fibre to the Premises rollout. Since then, blowouts in the Fibre to the Node rollout would have surpassed the said savings of $2 billion dollars.
Fibre to the Node: blowouts
The company had straight-out refused to publish a raw Fibre to the Node cost-per-premises figure in their Strategic Review. However, on page 101 of the Strategic Review, the company estimated that it will cost around $2 billion dollars to roll out 3.6 million premises using Fibre to the Node architecture. This equates to approximately $555 — $833 per premises (assuming range of $2 — $3 billion dollars divided by 3.6 million premises).
According to the latest 2016 corporate plan, this cost has blown out to $1,600 per premises or a net increase of $767 — $1,045 per premises (excluding infrastructure lease which was not attributed to CPP in original calculations).
nbn has also increased the FTTN/B/dp footprint from 3.6 million premises to 4.5 million. From Fibre to the Node cost per premises alone, this has attributed to a net blowout of between $3.5 to $4.7 billion dollars from Strategic Review cost estimates — potentially overriding the savings of $2 billion envisaged in the VDSL–G.Fast upgrade path.
Fibre to the Premises: better than expected?
The issue with this is of course, comparing FTTN costs with costs that we’d never know. We will never know exactly how much a “radically redesigned” FTTP rollout would have costed — but we can make estimates:
Comparing NBN’s estimates for Fibre to the Premises (Revised Outlook) in the Strategic Review with current Fibre to the Premises, figures shows they had over-estimated the capital expenditure of the FTTP rollout by about 11%: ~$4,100 in the Strategic Review ($1,997 for LNDN plus $2,100 for the activation, equating to $4,097 — see pages 62 and 64 of SR) vs $3,700 in the 2016 Corporate Plan. This suggests better-than-expected costs in the Fibre to the Premises rollout costs.
But it’s too late anyway
But unfortunately, the company has already invested billions into developing the so-called Multi-Technology Mix and has a task to rollout Fibre to the Node thanks much to Government policy. These are costs that taxpayers will never be able to recover, meaning we may have missed another opportunity to rollout FTTP in the majority of the now-FTTN footprint.
As the cost of the copper-based network increases, the comparative investment in those technologies become less attractive. Speed and capacity upgrades require installing more active equipment in the field and also extending fibre closer to the home. Thus, incremental upgrades and ongoing operating expenses on a copper-based broadband network is far greater than those on a fibre-based network where only tail equipment has to be swapped out.
If the savings in building a copper-based network are relatively small in initial capital expenditure — eventually, the economics will reverse and bite back.
Since Fibre to the Node will now span the majority of the network, the only logical upgrade path for those areas would now be FTTdp because of all the capital costs sunken into rolling out FTTN. But don’t think for a second that it will be actually cheaper than rolling out fibre all the way to the home in the first place.
In summary, if the Strategic Review’s figures are to be trusted, we may have missed yet another opportunity to get a FTTP network, albeit “radically redesigned” in nbn‘s vernacular. Calculations suggest it could have cost less than what the current FTTN rollout plus a G.Fast upgrade in 2020 will cost. Plus, the company has also proved at almost every instant that they had underestimated any non-FTTP costs in the strategic review and helpfully inflated any FTTP costs higher than actuals.
What are your thoughts? The analysis, of course, makes assumptions based on the available data. I think it’s a real pity how it seems time after time, taxpayer’s money ends up being wasted based on a false premise in a rushed report.
Service provider feedback forces NBN to waive new charges to be introduced with the launch of the Fibre to the Node product.
Citing concerns by some service providers, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network has decided to temporarily waive or cap a number of new charges “minimum period of 12 months” that were originally scheduled to be introduced with Fibre to the Node installations.
Professional filter installation: capped
Amongst the charges changed is the “professional installation” charge for Fibre to the Node and Basement areas, where a technician installs a central filter at the premises to reduce copper line interference.
Initially, nbn had wanted to charge service providers and in turn, end users, a variable cost depending on the number of hours the installer took to complete the installation. The filter installation during the initial order would have had a base cost of $160 and the company would charge a further $75/hour for every hour beyond two hours plus any additional material costs. Filter installations requested after the initial standard installation would have cost at least $235, plus every hour beyond three hours.
nbn says that some service providers “expressed concern that the basis on which NBN Co is going to charge for Professional Splitter Installations (i.e. on a time and material basis) would make it difficult for them to establish fixed prices for their retail offers.” The company has now introduced capped pricing at $160 and $235 respectively, and will not charge for additional hours incurred or extra materials used in the installation.
Other costs waived
In addition to the changes to the filter installation, nbn has waived its right to charge service providers a number of other ancillary charges. A number of service modification have been waived entirely such as equipment removal, modifications and repair. These were originally charged at $75/hr for a minimum of 3 hours. Service management charges for missed appointments, late cancellations, incorrect technician callouts and so-called “no fault found” callouts have also been waived for the FTTN and FTTB network.
For a full list of charges waived, check the Ancillary Charges Waiverdiscount notice and the Professional Splitter Installation Charges waiver letter published on the nbn website.
nbn, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, confirmed the delay to technology publication Delimiter. The company says they have deliberately chosen a slower activation approach as it “allows us to test our own processes and systems and to identify any issues along the way.”
Analysis of nbn’s monthly rollout schedule has revealed that the ambitious Fibre to the Node switch-on has been delayed for hundreds of thousands of premises by up to four months.
According to rollout information produced by the company rolling out the National Broadband Network, the ready for service dates for around 164 thousand premises in the NBN Fibre to the Node trial area have been delayed since the company’s estimates in May.
In May, the company estimated that 37,200 FTTN premises will be declared “Ready for Service” in September 2015 with another 35,200 premises added in October. However, the latest monthly ready for service plan released by the company last week shows a mere 2,100 premises will be declared “Ready for Service” in September. Delays continue into October, with only 9,600 premises expected to be activated in that month.
In total around 164 thousand premises have been pushed back by up to 4 months.
A full list of areas delayed can be found at the bottom of the post.
The raw data:
Table showing the change in the number of FTTN premises expected to be declared “Ready for Service” by nbn from May to August:
May Rollout Schedule
Aug Rollout Schedule
Table showing the full list of Service Area Modules (SAMs) where nbn has delayed the Ready for Service dates: