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NBN Co tells iiNet: Use Broadcom chips in VDSL routers

ISP also planning Zigbee-powered connected home router

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iiNet, Australia's third-largest internet service provider in terms of subscriber numbers, has been told by NBNCo that it should consider only Broadcom chipsets for its future VDSL modems.

Simon Watt, head of iiNet's labs, told The Register the advice was not prescriptive, but given the lead time required to develop customer premises equipment the fact the suggestion has been made at all suggests NBNCo, the entity building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), has gone some way down the road towards consideration of the VDSL technologies it will use.

That NBNCo feels in a position to share the recommendation suggests VDSL will certainly become a part of the network, regardless of the outcome of the various reviews of the NBN curreently under way.

VDSL has been advanced a crucial part of the new government's plan, as it feels a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) rollout using VDSL will be faster and cheaper than a fibre to the premises (FTTP) build. That VDSL successors, notably G.Fast, will offer greater speed with a FTTN topography is also advanced as a reason VDSL is a worthy broadband medium.

So what does Broadcom offer? Here's what the company has to say about its Residential VDSL2/ADSL2+ Gateway Solution:

“The BCM6368 combines a VDSL2/ADSL2+ transceiver and AFE with a high-performance multicore MIPS32 CPU, ATM/PTM hardware SAR, hardware packet-processing accelerator, Gigabit Ethernet switch core with four 10/100 Ethernet PHYs and dual GMII interfaces, dual USB Host/Device, multichannel TDM/PCM bus, parallel expansion bus supporting CardBus, and mini-PCI into a single high-performance monolithic device.

The VDSL2/ADSL2+ transceiver delivers 100 Mbps downstream and 50 Mbps upstream (100 Mbps upstream with external AFE), enhanced QoS for IPTV video, dual-latency framing, ATM or PTM physical layer, DSL channel bonding, and embedded operations channels for remote management of the CPE.”

Other Broadcom VDSL chipsets are detailed here. Most offer comparable specs.

It's not hard to see why NBN Co and iiNet are both keen on the company's chipset. The former gets a market leader committed to standards. The latter, if it adopts something along the lines of the BCM6368, gets extensibility that makes it possible to build custom devices. As it happens, that's just what Watt told The Register it hopes to create, in the form of a Zigbee-equipped router that will be able to chat to various devices around the home.

IiNet has begun to strike up relationships with third parties so it can gather data from connected devices and turn the information they collect into services for its customers. The ISP has already created a Zigbee-packing power plug to measure power consumption and imagines that such devices could become part of a future product.

The reason for these efforts, Watt explained, is an attempt to differentiate iiNet as more than just a bit-shifter, the better to encourage deeper and longer-lasting relationships with customers. ®

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