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Australian National Broadband Network secures backhaul

Telstra dark fibre for core transit

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The islands of access fibre* to be built for Australia’s National Broadband Network will be dark fibre provided by Telstra, at least in the first instance.

Speaking to a Melbourne conference on October 11, NBN Co chief Mike Quigley announced that the company has secured agreement from Telstra for access to the carrier’s dark fibre to commence construction of release 1 of its transit network.

Apart from its importance to the NBN project, the announcement also signals Telstra’s increasing willingness to co-operate with the project: it’s extremely rare for the incumbent carrier to consider offering dark fibre to any customer.

Quigley caused some excitement among those who don’t know the difference between access and backhaul networks by detailing a 10 Tbps core network running 100 Gbps interconnects to individual Points of Interconnect (POIs). Sorry: that capacity isn’t going to be provided to the retail end users.

A 100 Gbps link to the POI will probably, in the long term, need upgrading as the user base expands (which, however, wont be a problem in the next few years).

NBN Co eventually intends to deploy four transit networks covering not only its fibre access networks, but also, for users outside the footprints, its Ericsson-supplied LTE wireless network and its satellite base stations.

Each of the fibre strands will use 96 wavelengths to connect a planned 125 fibre access networks and 29 POIs.

Damping the persistent belief that wireless is overtaking fixed network usage, Quigley reiterated recent ABS statistics showing that data volumes on fixed networks far outpace the growth on mobile networks, in spite of the growth in mobile devices.

In his address to the Comms Day Summit in Melbourne, Quigley also referred to research by a major vendor (identified as Ericsson in Twitter discussions, but unverified by The Register at the time of writing) that even by 2016, mobile devices will only generate 0.5 percent of worldwide data traffic. ®

*For those unfamiliar with the network architecture: to avoid competing with already-existing privately-owned long-haul fibre networks, the NBN will in general not provide backhaul to capital cities. Its local access networks – the fibre access networks, or FANs – will be connected to the POIs, where retail service providers pick up their customers’ traffic. The RSPs then acquire backhaul from the POI back to their own data centres.

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