[LINK] NBN and Batteries

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Feb 23 14:15:33 AEDT 2011

Paul writes,

> here we are more likely to get an enquiry afterwards to declare
> after-the-fact that the orders to 'down the Internet' were a violation
> of something.

Sensible comments Paul, both here and also in "Computerworld" this arvo:

Green concerns raise ire for NBN battery backup

Potential environmental impact of recycling millions of batteries a 
concern as NBN installs default backups for fibre homes

by James Hutchinson (Computerworld) 23rd February, 2011 12:49

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is 
preparing to consult with internet service providers on the potential 
impact of recycling backup batteries for equipment installed as part of 
the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The batteries are currently being installed by NBN Co contractors free of 
charge on all premises connected by fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology. 

The batteries are expected to provide power to the network termination 
unit at homes and business for a minimum of three hours in the event of a 
power failure, allowing users to make emergency calls.

The batteries themselves are likely to last up to five years and NBN Co 
and service providers will both be able to monitor the lifespan of the 
backup equipment, with an alarm set to warn both operators when the 
battery requires replacement.

According to NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, the service provider 
will be responsible for maintenance and replacement of the battery after 
it is installed.

However, in a Senate estimates hearing this week, Greens senator Scott 
Ludlam questioned the potential environmental impact the millions of 
batteries could have when they do require replacement and ultimately 

Marianne Cullen, first assistant secretary of NBN implementation at the 
department, told senators the department would relieve any responsibility 
from NBN Co, and was looking to address the environmental and emergency 
service issues with industry.

“We’re currently in the process of designing an appropriate stakeholder 
consultation process in the department and expect that to happen in the 
next couple of months,” she said.

An investigation into the battery issue last year by Communications 
Alliance’s NBN working group led to suggestions the backup be provided as 
an optional install for those users who require a voice service.

Layer 10 consultant and former lead of the working group, Paul Brooks, 
told Computerworld Australia the use of an optional battery installation 
could potentially alleviate the environmental impact by reducing the 
number of batteries installed in the first place.

“Anybody who actually needed the battery backup could have it, but the 
people who didn’t need the battery backup because they’re using phone 
handsets or mobiles or other means of communicating shouldn’t be required 
to have the battery to reduce the huge environmental impact of having 
tens of millions of batteries replaced every few years,” he said.

The batteries are primarily designed to back up the voice service on NBN 
equipment, but one of the remaining unclear questions is whether the 
battery would also provide power to data ports. 

The lack of a backup option for data could provide hazardous as RSPs may 
offer VoIP services over the existing data connection, rather than using 
the emulated telephone port on customer equipment.

Spokespeople for NBN Co and equipment supplier Alcatel-Lucent did not 
respond to requests for comment at time of writing.

According to technical specifications released by the network wholesaler 
last year, satellite-connected homes will not receive the battery backup 
device by default, as the approximately three per cent of Australian 
premises will only be offered a voice service through existing universal 
service obligation arrangements, or through a VoIP service provided over 
the data connection.

NBN Co is yet to confirm whether fixed wireless premises will receive the 

However, both Quigley and Brooks warned that, even with battery backup 
for the voice ports on customer equipment, the prevalent use of cordless 
phones and handsets requiring power meant that the battery would be 
useless in emergency situations.

“When people are using a cordless phone, it doesn’t work when the power 
goes out,” Quigley said.

Quigley also revealed at Senates estimates that NBN Co continued to 
investigate a “reserve button” for the battery backup unit. 

In a statement to ZDNet last month, a spokesperson for the wholesaler 
indicated the button, which could only be pressed by an authorised 
technician, could be used to deliver a further 25 per cent of the 
battery’s power reserve after five hours of use without main line power.

Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, called the reserve power 
button a “break glass in case of emergency” option.

n_battery_backup/   Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch
Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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