nbn staggers FTTN commercial launch date depending on ISP’s state
nbn, the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, has updated their website stating that the commercial launch date for their Fibre to the Node network depended on the Access Seeker’s “registered office or principle (sic) place of business is located in Queensland”.
For most access seekers, the date for commercial launch is on Friday 18 September 2015. For access seekers located in Queensland, the commercial launch date is on the Monday after – on 21 September 2015 (or as advised by NBN Co).
The company has not indicated on their website why the date was staggered across the weekend for the different states.
“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 Rulesfor 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.
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”.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Following the adoption of the Multi-Technology Mix, the company responsible for building the network – nbn™, has released an updated version of the Network Design Rules document which dictates how the NBN is designed across all technologies.
In the document, dated 30th June and released today to the public, the company outlines changes to the network planning process for the MTM. Below are some highlights:
NBN removes protected fibre paths
With the implementation of the MTM, the company has done away with the original “ring topology” in the distribution fibre network, which was designed for fault tolerance allowing at least two paths for data to flow to and from the end user in the case of damage to the fibre network.
nbn™ states that a “star DFN topology” will be used instead, citing cost efficiencies in construction:
The Star DFN topology is the default for the Fixed Access build (post-Multi Technology Mix) to achieve cost efficiencies in construction.
In addition to the shift to the star topology, by default, only a 12-fibre core sheath will be used to connect an NBN node in a NBN Copper Access environment. This may limit the company’s ability to swap out copper nodes for a passive fibre rollout in the future.
FTTN and FTTB won’t have an NTD, HFC will
The company’s updated network design rules also provides insights into the CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) for the new technologies being introduced into the network.
For customers on the Fibre to the Node (FTTN) or Fibre to the Basement (FTTB) networks, nbn™ will not provide the VDSL2 modem required to connect to the network:
A VDSL2 modem (provided by the Access Seeker or end user). This is on the customer side of the nbn™ network boundary and is not discussed further in this document.
However, NBN Co will provide an NTD for customers in the HFC footprint.
The HFC NTD terminates the incoming physical coax cable at the end-user premises and provides one User to Network Interface (UNI). The HFC NTD will have the following:
1 x coax interface
1 x UNI-Data interfaces
The HFC NTD has not yet been finalised and will be the subject of an RFP.
Unlike the NBN Fibre, NBN Fixed Wireless and NBN Satellite footprints, the HFC NTD is expected to only feature one data port and no voice ports.
NBN copper nodes to include 48, 192 and 384 variants
nbn™ has listed that DSLAMs with 48, 192 and 384 ports will be used in the FTTN and FTTB network, with “further DSLAM sizes, are currently under investigation”.
The company says they will prioritise interconnecting their network with the existing copper plant “directly into the pillar” where possible, or alternatively, inject the VDSL2 signals into existing or new downstream and upstream joints.
Each DSLAM will also be served by 4 point-to-point fibres, with at least 2 spares for migration and expansion purposes. Each fibre is configured to aggregate 1GE of traffic back to the newly introduced Access Aggregation Switch located at the Fibre Access Node site, typically housed at an existing Telstra exchange.
NBN Co’s updated Network Design Document can be found here.
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.
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.
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.
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]”:
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)
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?
@jxeeno That’s our guarantee to RSPs. It is not a cap on speeds — Andrew Sholl (@andrewsholl) June 2, 2015
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:
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.
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. What do you mean no?”
NBN Co must like redundant tautology.
How would I phrase it?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Multi-Technology Mix replaces the full Fibre to the Premises rollout
It’s been known for some time that the Fibre to the Premises rollout will come to a head. As expected after the introduction of the Multi-Technology Mix (MTM) rollout strategy as directed by the Government’s Statement of Expectations to nbn™, the FTTP rollout era is expected to end next month in June. According to the 18 month rollout plan released to service providers in March, there will be no more FSAMs (Fibre Serving Area Modules) expected to commence build beyond June 2015 encompassing a “pure” Fibre to the Premises rollout.
The past two months (March and April) saw a consecutive lows of 4 FSAMs entering into build preparation phase. The 19,900 lucky premises over the past two months are one of the final groups of communities to get the full FTTP rollout. Provided that nbn™ doesn’t remove them from the map again, these areas are expected to commence build within the next 2 months.
One final rollout region, somewhere in the Wollongong Fixed-Line Serving Area, is expected to be the final FSAM to enter into the build preparation phase this month and appear on the rollout map in June. From there on in, it is expected that nbn™ will transition to the MTM, dropping the word “Fibre” from “Fibre Serving Area Module”, releasing Service Area Modules (SAMs) that will encompass multiple technologies in a single module.
Update 5:03pm: The link to the test agreement was incorrect in the original article. The link has since been updated.
In their second FTTN trial “test agreement”released today, NBN Co reveals that they’ve begun planning for an additional 200-end users to trial and test the Fibre to the Node network. Unlike the FTTN technology pilot which began in the middle of last year at Umina Beach, this trial appears to be user-centric.
iTnews reports that this trial will take place in the Lake Macquarie region.
“iTnews understands the trial will take place in the Lake Macquarie region of NSW.”
Earlier this week at a Senate hearing, Telstra admitted that the earlier FTTN technology pilot run at Umina Beach was to test the FTTN technology and that further trials would be needed to establish the actual experience and speeds that end users can expect at a commercial launch:
“We don’t believe the trial represents real world experience, it was operating over spare copper pairs… In terms of customer experience, we would be of the view there are other trials which we believe may be occurring in the future, that we have to look at.”
However, based on the test agreement released today, this additional 200 end-user trial will still rely primarily be a “Second Line Pilot” where an unused or new phone line is connected to the end-user premises for the Internet connection. The agreement states that only a “limited number of Single Line Pilot” premises will be nominated by NBN Co, to test the performance of existing phone lines:
“a limited number of Single Line Pilot Premises nominated by NBN Co and agreed to by Test Participant”
It is expected that the FTTN product will be ready for initial product release by the third quarter of this year.