Feeds

Internode's Simon Hackett offers re-engineered NBN plan

Fibre build might be affordable if other costs stripped out

The essential guide to IT transformation

Self-described “wise old bird of the industry, or at least, a bird that doesn't have much hair left”, Simon Hackett, has suggested to a Sydney conference that the fibre NBN could be delivered for close to a copper budget, if the design is revisited and reviewed.

Speaking to the Wholesale and Data Centre Summit staged by Australian telco newsletter Communications Day, Hackett nominated QoS, the NBN termination unit, and the ACCC-imposed architecture that requires 121 points of interconnect (POIs) as key points that could be loading up the build costs unnecessarily.

The termination unit, which offers two PSTN emulating ports and four Ethernet ports, he singled out as a particular bad idea from several angles: it's an unnecessary expense, he claimed, when retailers can already buy devices that have their own GPON input and Ethernet out.

Not only does that mean NBN Co is paying for a unit that Hackett claimed will be mostly unused: the decision to have an NBN-specific NTU also exposes the company to a vendor lock-in for a product that's specific to Australia.

That's because, he said, Alcatel has put considerable work into the internal virtualisation that keeps the NTU's ports separate for each other, something that's also “pushing what the box is capable of”, and slowing down the delivery of new features.

Perhaps recalling previous experience, such as the 1980s decision to deploy a highly localised version of ISDN in the then-Telecom network, Hackett said “we don't need Australia-special custom software” be created for the NBN.

“The cheapest cost is no cost,” he said. “Most [retail service providers] RSPs already deliver the box they want to deliver.

Were the design revisited, Hackett said, it's possible that the install cost blowouts now drawing fire from subcontractors could be addressed, without trying to squeeze their contract rates. “The subcontractors … are deploying a design which itself needs to be reviewed”. Instead, he argued, subcontractors should “drop the fibre, test the fibre, and not have to sort out the electrical aspect of the rollout”.

To the criticism that this would eliminate the NBN's mandated ability to provide standard PSTN services to customers that wanted it, Hackett argues that there are plenty of viable alternatives that RSPs could deploy rather than NBN Co, because “if you want a PSTN port, you can simulate it perfectly well”.

Building a “dead standard GPON network” with no special software would also provide flexibility for the NBN Co to revisit its supply contracts more frequently, creating a more competitive supplier environment. Hinting at companies like Huawei (barred from providing equipment to the NBN), he said that there are suppliers “that would fall over themselves to build Malcolm Turnbull's price for 'the late' Stephen Conroy's network, today.”

The ACCC's decision to require NBN Co to deploy 121 points-of-presence, he stated (again, since this has been a theme of Hackett's criticisms of the NBN for quite some time), should be abandoned in favour of NBN Co's original design, which called for seven duplicated, meshed “megaPOPs”.

He also suggested that if there's no way to make the network cheap enough to provide stable and affordable wholesale prices in the long term – his own simple model suggests wholesale prices need to rise pretty much forever – then at least part of the build should receive direct government subsidy.

“There are big chunks of this country that are non-commercial to deploy to,” Hackett told the conference. “If there's a gap, you fill it in the public interest.”

Hackett has posted the slideshow of his presentation, with audio, at his personal blog here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore
Fresh round of network stats fisticuffs possibly on the cards here
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?