[LINK] NBN and Batteries

Paul Brooks pbrooks-link at layer10.com.au
Thu Feb 24 13:43:37 AEDT 2011

On 24/02/2011 10:53 AM, Stilgherrian wrote:
> On 24/02/2011, at 9:40 AM, Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
>> In the case of the NBN, the use of the system during a power outage 
>> should probably fall into type 1. Even if it doesn't it is a critical 
>> second order problem (i.e. a problem caused by the solution) which needs 
>> to be addressed as a problem in its own right, not as a wrinkle of the 
>> original solution.
> Um, but this stuff was in early engineering proposals, with the first suggestion offered by NBN Co [from memory it was from then rather than the Communications Alliance] being an opt-in to get battery backup if you wanted it.
> Stil

I think the CA working groups started to consider it first, recognising up front that
it was a major consideration for consumers.
We also need to understand this is not a new issue - all the now tens of thousands of
residences in greenfields housing developments over the past few years with FTTP
networks and services have also had to cover this off, so there are a few years of
'prior art' from the FTTP greenfields network operators to work with as a starting
point in deliberations.

Looking through the archives, the CA NBN End Users Handbook Release 1 released in
December 2009 covered this issue, with lots of discussion in the months of drafting
leading up to that paper.
There weren't a lot of NBN Co people around in late 2009, the earliest documentation
from NBN Co started appearing in early 2010.

It was also covered in the NBN Technical Standards paper released April 2010 - these
papers can be downloaded and viewed at

FWIW, the Overview of Technical Standards paper (April 2010) had this to say:

> “Lifeline Service”
> 5.3.7
> There appears to often be confusion regarding the existence or not of legislation
> mandating a “lifeline service” (i.e. the maintenance of a telephone capability
> during a local power failure). This subject is also often confused with the
> requirement for operators to support “emergency calling” (i.e. the ability for
> telephone users to call a special number (e.g. “000” for fixed telephones) to
> request assistance from police/ambulance/fire brigade.
> 5.3.8
> In brief there is no legislated requirement for an Australian operator to support
> residential telephony, either to emergency services or any other party, during a
> local power failure. The confusion may have arisen because originally all telephones
> were powered from the local exchange (indeed many houses at the time did not have
> domestic electricity), and this capability has been sustained over the years, though
> it is now largely irrelevant due to the growth in mains-powered telephones (e.g.
> cordless phones) and mobile telephones.
> 5.3.9
> With FTTP networks the fibre network cannot power the optical modems (ONTs). However
> a small number of FTTP subscribers may wish to have a battery backup device so that
> the ONT can be kept working for a while during a local power failure to support
> critical end user services.
> 5.3.10
> Of course for this to be of value it would also be necessary for the ONT and
> end-user equipment to both have battery backup. In the case of telephony this means
> that the telephone, ATA (telephony adapter) and ONT all need backup. While battery
> backup devices can be offered by operators as an option, the batteries themselves
> are relatively short-lived, and the actual lifespan will be determined by the
> environment and usage pattern of the batteries.
> 5.3.11
> Consequently it is common practice for operators to require that end-users accept
> responsibility for monitoring the battery function, purchase of a replacement
> battery, installation of the new battery, and recycling of the spent battery.
> 5.3.12
> In the case of telephony the availability and popularity of mobile phones makes them
> an alternative for emergency telephony to a fixed phone with battery backup.
> 5.3.13
> There are other end-user devices which communicate over a "dialup telephone line",
> such as home security systems or medical alarm equipment, and these devices
> typically incorporate battery backup for which the end-user is also responsible.
> (AS4607-1999 requires medical alarm equipment to operate for 36 hours in the event
> of a mains power failure.) Users of such devices will need to be informed that they
> will also need to make provision for the supply and maintenance of battery backup
> facilities for their ATA and ONT.
> 5.3.14
> An important consideration is that the use of battery backup on a large-scale (e.g.
> mandating battery backup on all ONTs) would create extra costs for end-users and
> operators, and very likely lead to environmental problems as end-users discard
> batteries into land-fill. The use of batteries also leads to increased energy
> emissions, as constant trickle-charging is necessary to compensate for their
> self-discharge. Thus for environmental reasons the use of batteries for backup
> should be minimised.


More information about the Link mailing list