[LINK] The market for wireless [WAS: Work on Next Generation Wireless in Canberra]

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Mon Nov 29 09:55:55 AEDT 2010

On 29/11/10 9:33 AM, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> At 09:10 AM 29/11/2010, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> In the home, I can see good reason to retain the "boundary" demarcation
>> at the NTU. I can do what I please in-home, as long as I can use
>> Ethernet to connect to the NTU.
>> Why should the NBN dictate what kind of network I use in-home?
> I thought Stil's comment about connecting whatever to the 'tap' is a
> good one. What one does for mobility in the house is different from
> what one does to connect to the WAN.
> One reason mobile is a problem is hills. You still need to get the
> signal and some places just can't. I did a bit of research for a
> friend here and some providers just can't guarantee a signal to her.
> She was able to get signal from another one, though.
>> As for the mobile networks: we now have intense competition between
>> three carriers, all of which are responsible for their own decisions
>> about coverage. Where's the benefit in subsuming this into the NBN?
> I agree. Let the private providers continue, as they will. The market
> will sort that out through pricing deals, etc. I don't think the govt
> should get into micromanaging that aspect. I think we're in a good
> position to have lots of choice as the technologies continue to
> advance. Glass is just going to replace the current copper to provide
> more capacity and speed at lower price per both. It is evolutionary.
> Has anyone seen the life of network data for the NBN business plan?
> Has it been released yet for those details? I know they've said the
> network end equipment will handle the upgrade requirements, but I'm
> wondering what time frame they're thinking for the whole thing? 20
> yrs? 50? How long has the copper network been installed? I know it
> was starting to degrade in some places.
Not for the NBN business plan, but having done some research for an 
article back in September, I can tell you that the accepted 
*depreciation* life of a fibre network is 30 years.

The source for this is a company called Technology Futures Inc, whose 
data seems generally accepted by the investment community.

This suggests to me that the fibre is expected to be in-service for more 
than 30 years, since you don't have something that's being replaced 
before it's been depreciated off the books. And this, in turn, is in 
line with other research I've seen - in one case, a fibre that had gone 
through ten years of freezing, heating, flooding and mud in Oregon 
showed zero measurable degradation in its optical performance.

Yes, the copper is degrading where it's old. Some of the copper is as 
much as 50 years old, although by now (due to progressive replacement) 
it's mostly newer than that. There's all sorts of mechanisms in place to 
try and protect it against degradation - putting the wires inside 
pressurised cables etc - but age is catching up with the copper. As far 
as I know, the relative age of different bits of the copper plant is not 
public knowledge, nor does Telstra separately report the full cost of 
maintaining the copper.

The network equipment's life would be much less than the fibre, but 
that's okay - in my professional lifetime, Telstra has replaced its 
exchange equipment more than once. I think between the old 
electro-mechanical exchanges that were still being migrated out in the 
1980s, through to what's in an exchange today, there would be at least 
two, perhaps three generations of equipment.

> Jan
> Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
> jwhit at janwhitaker.com
> blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
> business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
> Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or
> sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
> ~Madeline L'Engle, writer
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