Feeds

Should NBN Co squeeze a server into FTTN nodes?

There's still time: node design hasn't been settled

Boost IT visibility and business value

Last week, Dell revealed an item of interest in the form of the PowerEdge R420xr, a shortened and ruggedised version of its PowerEdge R420 intended for use in the field by telcos.

Dell launched the device at CommunicAsia, the region's annual telco-fest, with a pitch that it is small enough to fit into base stations (hence the shortening) and rugged enough to survive life on the street.

The company's spiel also suggested that putting a server closer to users is a good idea for several reasons. For one, a server can be a lovely cache. Or a smart cache: telcos could send a 4K version of a movie to the edge of their network and use the server to transcode it when subscribers happy to view it in lesser formats make the call. Perhaps the server could also be used to perform some billing functions.

The general idea is that a clever carrier – or retailer living on a wholesaler's network – should be able to find all sorts of things to do with a device packing two Xeons and up to 16TB of storage on the edge of its network.

Of course in Australia the edge of the network is a very contentious place, given the government's decision to rely on a mixture of DOCSIS 3.1 on hybrid fibre coax and fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) on copper to deliver the nation's National Broadband Network (NBN).

Critics of that plan, and the change from a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) plan, bemoan the slower speed and seemingly lesser upgrade path for the newly-chosen technologies.

Might those objections be overcome if NBN Co's FTTN nodes include a server? Doing so would reduce traffic on the fibre link and could result in all sorts of interesting services being made available. It's not hard to imagine that such services could help to overcome the raw speed deficit between FTTP and FTTN and create a smarter network, if not one with the same headline speeds.

Yes, a server in a node would represent risk: even a rugged device would struggle to be as reliable as telco-grade kit. And the prospect of retailers fighting for access to their slice of a server is not edifying given Australian telco competition history is littered with disputes over access to wholesalers infrastructure.

The good and bad news is that NBN Co tells us FTTN node design is not sufficiently far advanced for servers to have been considered, although an Alcatel node design is being studied. That's a bit scary because we've been told FTTN deployments will be going like a train any month now. If node design isn't settled NBN Co may struggle to go fast once the various reviews into the network land.

On the upside, it means the company is still open to ideas.

Why not give them one by suggesting how to use a server on the NBN's edge in the comments? ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.