[LINK] Battery back-up mandatory for NBN?

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon Nov 1 11:11:59 AEDT 2010

Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> On 29/10/2010 9:27 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>> Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
>>> On 28/10/2010 9:20 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>>>> My view is that the NBN is intended to replace the current telephone
>>>> service ...
> Which isn't replacing anything, it's a new service ...

The NBN is replacing the copper cable to homes with fibre and replacing 
the analogue phone connection with a digital emulation.

>... to a very small  number of users. ...

Keep in mind that "green-field" NBN sites will include large apartment 
blocks as well as new suburbs of detached houses. There are about 
280,000 new dwellings built in Australia each year of which an 
increasing proportion will be new apartment buildings:

> How many people need lifeline services? Very few, as far as I know.

There are about 5.4 million emergency calls per year in Australia to 
Triple Zero and the other emergency numbers: 

I expect we will see increasing numbers of these made by other than a 
voice call. Already there is the 106 text-based emergency number, 
provided by the National Relay Service: http://www.relayservice.com.au/>.

> The question that I ask, and I think Paul Brooks has asked as well, is 
> "why should everyone have to have a battery if most don't need it?"

Mandatory safety features are intended to protect the public, even where 
individuals might not wish to pay for that protection. As an example, 
some homes are required to have mains powered battery backed alarms, 
larger apartment blocks have back to base alarms. These are costs which 
an individual home owner might not want, but they do not get that 
choice. I suggest that battery backup for the NBN is in the same category.

> ... Who is responsible if a battery fails in a life threatening situation?

If battery backup fails and a death results, it will be for the Coroners 
Court to decide who is at fault. If there are many deaths, then it is 
likely a Royal Commission would investigate. There may also be civil 
court cases. It would need to be determined if there was a failure in 
policy, design or implementation. I act as an expert witness in such cases.

> I don't know what world you live in Tom, but $90-150m/year forever isn't 
> a few dollars in mine.

This is about 3% of the cost of the service, which seems reasonable. I 
expect that is less than the cost of the emergency calling services, 
including Triple Zero.

> And it is reported that the overkill regarding battery number is likely 
> to give rise to environmental problems. I wonder what your students on 
> green ICT courses think of that? ...

My Green ICT course covers "Materials Use" briefly:

Working out the effects of the NBN batteries would make a good student 
assignment: <http://cs.anu.edu.au/Student/comp7310/>.

ps: It might not make technical or financial sense to run fibre to every 
apartment in a building, instead terminating the fibre in the basement 
(as it is in my apartment building) or on each floor of a large complex. 
Copper cable can support 100 Mbit/s or Gigabit Ethernet. However, for 
statistical purposes this would not count as "fibre to the home" and so 
the government is unlikely to encourage it: 

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/

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