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NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER

Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node

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NBN Co, the entity charged with building and operating Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), has let world+dog know that one test of VDSL delivered over fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) worked.

You can read the announcement here if you want: it explains that the test achieved “delivered raw download speeds of 105 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 45 Mbps.” We suggest you also read between the lines because the announcement is scandalously scanty because it omits discussion of topics including:

  • Whether the test in any way resembled a real-world scenario
  • Whether the test used a production network connection or something set up especially for the occasion
  • Whether the test used the equipment NBN Co intends to use in production
  • The state of the twisted pair between the node and the retail store where the test was conducted
  • Length of the cable run, not just the linear distance between the node and store
  • Setting used on the node and modem during the test
  • What kind of data was downloaded

We could go on but by now you probably get the point: a press release saying “we've proved FTTN probably works” and offering very few other details is an interesting way to prove the government's new mixed media NBN is going to deliver the goods. Or even prove it can deliver the bits.

Sadly, the news of this “result” will probably go down very well in the places where it counts … for the government. Mainstream non-technology media, many of whom are more sympathetic to the government’s ideology than the opposition's, are likely to uncritically report the “success” of the test. In the public imagination this event could therefore be considered an important milestone.

For this correspondent, the “test” is nothing more than a note reporting that a test of a VDSL product worked. Without full information about the circumstances of the test, it is impossible to ascribe any greater significance to it. ®

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