Feeds

Should NBN Co squeeze a server into FTTN nodes?

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

Business security measures using SSL

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? ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.