Feeds

Interview: Dave Berstein on the NBN, construction and VDSL

xDSL, fibre, construction and gigabits

High performance access to file storage

The Register: In your experience of watching rollouts take place in America – is there a predictable point of no return on a project. Not the “point of no return, we're going to complete the project no matter what”, but the “point of no return of things going wrong.” In other words, at what point do the problems accumulate so much that it's irrecoverable.

Dave Berstein: Look at it from another point of view: how do you do it efficiently to ensure that there are not too many problems?

Experience is overwhelming that if you try to do too much in the first two years, you're likely to get screwed. It totally blew out the economics in the Burlington, Vermont municipal build – Utopia, a set of cities that got together, and they came in at four or five thousands dollars. It was a city / suburban build that essentially Verizon was doing for $US1,200.

They had amateurs in charge, businessmen and politicians, not network builders. They tried to do it quickly so they wouldn't have problems, and the city of Burlington Municipal Utility is bankrupt right now, and there's more a fear around that municipal build-out.

On the other hand, Verizon came in on time and on budget, because – probably because there's some very competent pros at Verizon who know networks, and probably because the network guys told the president of the company (I had a chance to talk to them) that “no, you do not want us going any faster”.

So they – for the first three years – built slowly, and expanded only as fast as they could train the crews, the contractors, build the operating system, train the people to answer the calls on the help desk, make sure everything was working.

In fact, Fabio – who thought the fibre was great and wanted it yesterday – told an audience … in the third year that he wanted to do four million lines. And the network people said “no – we can't do more than three million this year without trouble. Talk to us next year.”

You need that discipline to understand, fibre especially which is lots of construction, lots of new problems, you have to take the time, build the systems, train the people, don't push it – and then when you have the trained people, have the systems, move ahead.

I sincerely hope that Malcolm Turnbull is listening – I've had the chance to tell this to him as well. Go very cautious, until you prove that things are running smooth. Once things are running smooth, yeah, the technology is ready to go very fast. British Telecom's doing 100,000 homes a week.

The Register: If those planning principles had been employed – in other words, “do not excessively front-load your rollout” – then you have a set of principles that would have worked better for fibre?

Dave Berstein: And the teams. Okay, a thing as big as Australia's national broadband rollout, is going to require ten thousand people who know everything that's involved in coordinating the latest software release that comes from your router vendor, to make sure that you don't knock out a quarter of your network.

And it takes a while for people to acquire those skills, and you can't learn it in a classroom, and you can't hire a pile of trainers and run them through in six weeks and expect … a lot of this, you can only learn by doing. You have to plan it that way, or you're only inviting trouble.

Fibre is the technology, wherever it's going – there's nobody in Australia who's done a big fibre rollout before.

So it's guaranteed you have a lot of learning to do at the beginning. The VDSL is probably going to have a lot less trouble, even though it is also somewhat new technology, just because there's much less construction to it.

The VDSL is efficient because it's mostly using the old network, and only a small part of it. The node box and the fibre behind it is new … so there's less to go wrong. So it'll probably have fewer problems.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.