[LINK] Does the NBN need overhead cabling? [Was: Aerial vs underground Cabling]

David Boxall david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Sun Mar 6 08:56:22 AEDT 2011

On 5/03/2011 1:15 PM, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> ...
> It's only fair to mention that NBN Co does not intend to use overhead
> cable more than it absolutely must.
> ...
How much it "absolutely must" depends on what it's doing. If it's 
building something that will be flogged off to the highest bidder when 
finished, then it needs overhead cabling to maximise the number of 
connected (or potentially connected) premises in the time available. If 
it's building national infrastructure, then I guess it needs about as 
much overhead cabling as there is in the current copper network.

As far as I know, we currently have a fibre trunk with copper to the 
premises, some commercial wireless and some subsidised satellite. The 
NBN will add more fibre, more subsidised satellite and subsidised wireless.

Therefore, the potential components of the network are:
- Fibre, underground and overhead;
- Copper, underground and overhead;
- Wireless and
- Satellite.

If we regard the network as national infrastructure, rather than a 
product to be sold off, what is the role of overhead fibre? It seems to 
me that it's the bit between underground fibre and the premises. In most 
cases there's already copper to the premises. What that copper can 
deliver depends largely on how much of it there is between the fibre and 
the premises. Where existing copper can't deliver, there's always 
wireless. Where neither copper nor wireless can deliver, there's satellite.

If we assume that the most cost-effective long term aim is underground 
fibre to the premises*, what is the most cost-effective short term 
stop-gap? Which is least expensive to implement? Which can be most 
readily removed (and potentially moved for reuse) when replaced?

To my mind, the notion that the NBN is a project with a defined end 
point is dangerous. It's leading to short-term thinking that will cost 
us dearly in the longer term. It will end in us repeating the blunders 
of the Telstra sellout.

* The only ones I hear pretending otherwise are opposition politicians 
and the wireless lobby.

David Boxall                    |  When a distinguished but elderly
                                |  scientist states that something is
http://david.boxall.id.au       |  possible, he is almost certainly
                                |  right. When he states that
                                |  something is impossible, he is
                                |  very probably wrong.
                                                  --Arthur C. Clarke

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