[LINK] National Broadband Network - except it's not national.

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Wed May 12 13:21:01 AEST 2010

Tom Worthington wrote:
> Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> David Boxall wrote:
>>> On 7/05/2010 10:31 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>>>> ...
>>>> If the primary way to access the Internet is from a wireless mobile
>>>> device, then most of the need for fibre to the home disappears.
>>>> ...
>> ... given enough demand for bandwidth, is that the cell-to-households 
>> ratio would eventually have to approach parity.  ...
> The Australian Government seems to be having a bet each way on fibre
> versus wireless. Minister Conroy has cancelled the Australian Broadband
> Guarantee (ABG) in areas with Telstra NextG wireless broadband coverage
> (removing it from 99% of the population). On the one hand the Minister
> is talking up the benefits of a 100 Mbps fibre optic cable NBN and on
> the other hand saying 1 Mbps (with 256 kbps upload) 3G UMTS mobile
> network is good enough under the ABG:
> <http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2010/043>.
The ABG is designed to deliver a service where ADSL is not obtainable. 
The guarantee was never available to 99% of the population.

Wireless services were, anyhow, already recognised under the ABG; just 
not cellular-based systems.

Nobody's saying "1 Mbps is good enough", rather "1 Mbps is vastly better 
than nothing at all". Note that the minimum wireless under the NBN would 
be 12 Mbps.
> A wireless cell for every household with NBN access is an option I
> suggested and would provide much more than 1Mbps:
> <http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2009/12/nbn-ceo-on-our-broadband-future.html>. 
With your strong interest in energy efficiency issues, Tom, I'm 
surprised at this idea. In terms of megabits-per-second-per-watt, 
wireless is low efficiency.

Moreover, I would think:
1. People who are spooked by mobile towers aren't going to welcome 
in-home cellular base stations (which may well be illogical, since they 
have a host of other devices).
2. There aren't that many slices of the contiguous 20MHz spectrum 
required for acceptable performance, if we massively multiply device 

> Homes will need a powered fibre optic modem for the NBN. Rather than
> have the householder plug a WiFi device into that, I suggest there might
> as well be an NBN Co managed wireless device built into each modem,
> similar to shared WiFi services:
> <http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2009/11/wifi-share-service-to-supplement-nbn.html>. 
This would not fit under the wholesale-only NBN model. It would also 
escalate the operating costs by introducing another managed device in 
the network.

Finally, there are propagation issues to consider. Part of the class 
licensing of devices like WiFi routers is the cap on radiated power (1 
W?). I'm not sure that anybody wants (say) 5W devices proliferating just 
so they can share a wireless device with someone down the street.
> Assuming 30% of homes have an NBN fibre connection and wireless cell,
> that should be enough to provide wireless access for the remaining 70%
> of homes in a suburb. As well as entertainment devices in the homes and
> street outside, this could be used for smart electricity meters:
> <http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2009/10/smart-electricity-meters-may-displace.html>. 
The NBN can be used for smart meters. As can mobile networks. The smart 
meter is not a particularly bandwidth-intensive device.

(Nor am I convinced on smart metering; it seems to me to be envisaged as 
a new era in efficiency, but deployed as a lever to extract money from 

> ps: The figure of a 30% take-up of the NBN comes from a media report:
> <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/industry-sectors/only-30pc-to-log-in-to-national-broadband-network/story-e6frg9hx-1225864251610> 

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