Feeds

Interview: Dave Berstein on the NBN, construction and VDSL

xDSL, fibre, construction and gigabits

The essential guide to IT transformation

The Register: In the fibre rollout, in the business plan for the fibre rollout – we saw what is not surprising, a very rapid escalation in per-premises cost for every percent over 90. The first 90 percent did not vary much about the median price per home. The 91 varied a lot, 92 varied more, 93 a lot more.

In VDSL – here I'm looking at the characteristics of Australia …

Dave Berstein: Anybody who tries to give you a good answer to this, beyond eight-five percent, is bullshitting you. Because nobody has done this kind of node rollout beyond eighty, eighty-five percent.

So they're guessing … for the last fifteen percent they're guessing. Now, the guesses may be fairly well informed. The US Broadband Plan had a team with seven very good people trying to figure out where the costs are, and what was involved in the rural rollout.

What they found was that the cost was utterly and totally brutal – for the last forty-four hundredths of one percent!

Whether the point at which the costs escalate is at eighty-six percent, or ninety percent, ninety-three percent, or ninety-seven percent – expert opinion would differ, and nobody who hasn't spent a week with hard data of where those homes are located and what the distances are, is giving you any answer that isn't bullshit.

I would guess that somewhere between eighty-five and ninety-five, your cost escalates. I wouldn't tell you whether it's eighty-eight or ninety-four without access to a hell of a lot more data than anybody except Telstra or the NBN has access to.

And it would take me a lot of work to give you a good answer.

The Register: There is an inflection point …

Dave Berstein: And there's the fact that the NBN did what looked like some fairly careful work to say “you'll get killed at ninety-three percent”, which is why that's the cutoff. They may be wrong, it may be ninety or it may be ninety-five, and hopefully they put good people on to deciding that before they put money into building.

And some of getting this right is to go out and build some of those, and get some experience from the field, based on the density of the housing, and see what it actually takes with Australian labour and Australian systems.

The Register: In data-gathering terms, it is not a bad idea to start with a mix of territories, as in fact they did?

Dave Berstein: The best experts in the world on this can't give you a good answer until they get out there, and get the data. So, getting the data is why I'm fudging and not giving you direct answers to your questions! Instead of thinking that some expert from Sydney, New York, Berlin or Paris can come in from outside and give you the answer.

This needs real people, real engineers, real world, and lots of experience.

The Register: Final question: There is, at each inflection point – something unexpected happens. History at least suggests that anyone who tries to do a linear projection of bandwidth requirements ends up being proved wrong.

The shift from dial to 256, brought unexpected things – there was Skype ...

Dave Berstein: P2P video. Netflix, and so on.

I can bring you the opinion of some of the very best people in the world on this subject. Because I've had a chance to research some of this!

We don't know.

Dave Farber – called the grandfather of the Internet, because most of the people who are called fathers of the Internet were his students – said “it is utter nonsense to say that we don't need a gigabit, because the experience is that we always need more bandwidth and we'll find a way to use it.”

The guy who built one of the largest gigabit networks in the world is telling me he's only been able to figure out one real application … any time soon … that's likely to need more than 100 megabits.

A network engineer who's looking at the 100 megabits said he's got a big family doing a lot of stuff, but he doesn't ever touch 75 megabits.

So – we don't know if the extrapolation of the curve which says we always need more and more bandwidth is realistic going 20 years into the future, or the practical experience with disk drives is more relevant.

For 20 years in this business, whatever disk drive you had, you filled and needed a bigger one. Until about five years ago, when disk drives got so big that most people don't wind up running out of space on their Terabyte or 2 Terabyte drives, unless they do a heck of a lot of video.

Or have two-and-a-half Terabytes of jazz …

But those are relatively few, and we see that in the declining sales of hard disk drives.

There was a point where you had just about what you needed – so, smart people disagree on this one, and I'll wait 'till I see.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.