[LINK] NBN white-elephant-to-be ..

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Wed Aug 25 10:30:54 AEST 2010

> -----Original Message-----
> From: link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au 
> [mailto:link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of 
> Richard Chirgwin
> Sent: Wednesday, 25 August 2010 7:21 AM
> To: link at anu.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [LINK] NBN white-elephant-to-be ..
> I so wish that I could find a commentator who had both the 
> breadth (ie, 
> technical and economic) and independence (both perceived and 
> actual) as 
> to give the world a truly independent assessment of the NBN.

Richard, Im not qualified on the Telecommummunications aspect, new
developments have overtaken my knowledge curve, but you do realise that
an independent study like this would take about two months and cost
about a hundred fifty thousand...

So I guess, for it to be truly independent it would need to be
university PhD candidate based. [Even then, the politics of the
examiners would be an unfortunate influence, possibly].

> Even people who are well-informed on other matters get 
> important details 
> wrong, as in the article below. This, combined with intractable 
> partisanship, has completely polluted the NBN debate.
> stephen at melbpc.org.au wrote:
> > Robin writes,
> >
> >   
> >> The NBN price-tag of $43B is based on no thorough planning 
> and surely 
> >> underestimates the true cost, probably by a factor of 2 or more.
> >>
> >> Even if it was to cost "only $43B", I am not sure that this is the 
> >> best thing we could do with such money.  As I mentioned, health, 
> >> education and solar thermal power generation seem higher 
> priorities 
> >> to me ..
> >>     
> >
> >
> > Many including myself hope for an R-R, but others agree with you 
> > Robin:
> >
> >
> > A Rolls-Royce NBN is simply not commercially viable
> >
> > Dave Stevens  The Australian  August 24, 2010
> > http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/opinion
> >

Some of the pollution being spread, just before the election, looked
like this.

>From an email forwarded to me by someone concerned that the NBN was
waste of Tax payer money. 
My Comments to him inrelationtot he email are att he bottom after the

>I received this email and thought you may be interested or could
comment on it's credibility, I quite like the comparison between >NBB
and roof insulation. I was speaking to an Aussie electrician over here
who told some amazing stories about what had gone 
>particularly in northern Australia.

Subject:   NBN - Sounds Impressive But a Costly Con Job

I am a network architect for one of Australia's largest Telco's - so I
speak with some authority on this issue. 

Here are the technical reasons this will fail : 
1) fibre optic cable has a maximum theoretical lifespan of 25 years when
installed in conduit.  Over time, the glass actually degrades (long
story), and eventually it cant do it`s bouncing of light thing any more.
But when you install fibre outside on overhead wiring (as will be done
for much of Australia's houses, except newer suburbs with underground
wiring), then the fibre degrades much quicker due to wind, temperature
variation and solar/cosmic radiation.  The glass in this case will last
no more than 15 years. So after 15 years, you will have to replace it.
Whereas the copper network will last for many decades to come.  Fibre is
not the best technology for the last mile.  That`s why no other country
has done this. 

2) You can not give every house 100Mbps.  If you give several million
households 100Mbps bandwidth, then you have exceeded the entire
bandwidth of the whole internet.  In reality, there is a thing called
contention.  Today, every ADSL service with 20Mbps has a contention
ratio of around 20:1 (or more for some carriers).  That means, you share
that 20Mbps with 20 other people.  It`s a long story why, but there will
NEVER be the case of people getting 100Mbps of actual bandwidth.  Not
for several decades at current carrier equipment rates of evolution.
The "Core" can not and will not be able to handle that sort of
bandwidth.  The 100Mbps is only the speed from your house to the
exchange.  From there to the Internet, you will get the same speeds you
get now.  The "Core" of Australia's network is already fibre (many times
over).  And even so, we still have high contention ratios.  Providing
fibre to the home just means those contention ratios go up.  You will
not get better download speeds. 

3) new DSL technologies will emerge.  15 years ago we had 56k dial-up.
Then 12 years ago we got 256k ADSL, then 8 years ago 1.5Mbps ADSL2, then
5 years ago 20Mbps ADSL2+.  There are already new DSL technologies being
experimented on that will deliver over 50Mbps on the same copper we have
now.  $zero cost to the tax payer 

4) 4G wireless is being standardised now.  The current 3G wireless was
developed for voice and not for data, and even so it can deliver up to
21Mbps in Australia.  There are problems with it, but remember that it
was developed for voice.  The 4G standard is specifically being
developed for data, and will deliver 100Mbps bandwidth with much higher
reliability (yes, the same contention issues apply mentioned earlier).
$zero cost to the tax payer 

5) The "NBN" will be one of the largest single networks ever built on
earth.  There are only a few companies who could do it - Japan's Nippon
NTT, BT, AT&T;, Deutsche Telekom etc.  Even Telstra would struggle to
built something on this scale.  Yet we are led to believe that the same
people who cant build school halls or install insulation without being
ripped off are going to to do it ???  Here at Telstra, we are laughing
our heads off !!  Because when it all comes crumbling down, after they
have spent $60+billion and the network is no more than 1/2 complete, it
will be up to Telstra to pick up the pieces !

Phil, I can't comment on its credibility as I am unaware of it's
provenance, however the content is reasonably correct with the exception
of it's claims of contention. Content is now being shared more and more
on a P2P basis. Even Telstra's latest VOD rollout is a P2P application.
Therefore, if Telstra stops bottlenecking the network by allowing all
ISP's to peer with all ISP's then "commercially caused" contention
within Australia would disappear.

The Fibre will need to be replaced between 15 and 25 years. But then so
will the switches, the computers, and almost every other piece of
technology in any communications network. 

Fibre to the Home [FTTH] is an option like motorways.  Those that live
near a motorway on or off ramp get to work and home faster than those
that don't.

Contention in most telecommunicastions sytstems is caused mainly by
legacy single mode fibre between the exchanges or antiquated legacy
switchmode equipment that has been repeatedly overlooked in the
[originally]planned [but omitted for financial cut back reasons] upgrade

All transit technologies require major ugrades at regular life
intervals. Pot holes in roads, power transmission line replacement and
even railway lines (heat buckling).

If we ignore the lifespan aspect as we should, then we can say that
those that get FTTH have the option of enjoying an as yet un-identified
basket of benefits [Think back to the copper, did Alexander Bell
contemplate movies being delivered via DSL to laptop computers ?]
Those that don't agree to FTTH to their home will continue to ride to
work on their cycles [not allowed on motorways] facing traffic lights at
the rate of five to six for every kilometre of travel [or contention at
the interexchange level].

FTTH is crucial as the next evolving development for Australian
With it, out taxes rise marginally (.084% P.A. over an estimated 35
years), without it, there will be little hope of true independent
commercial communications in this country and little hope of new
evolving methods of business, content and telecommuting transactions. 

Yet the comment that Telstra will wind up with the asset is actually
what will probably happen in the long run because the current Government
will not be in power by the time the NBN is completed (estimated
build-out time eight years). 

Which of course is a damn fine argument for leaving the copper alone.


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