[AusNOG] Aust Govt will build National Broadband Network, no company will be awarded the tender.

Bevan Slattery Bevan.Slattery at staff.pipenetworks.com
Sat Apr 11 17:31:33 EST 2009

I'll wade in here with my flame suit on...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net 
> [mailto:ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net] On Behalf Of Matthew 
> Moyle-Croft
> Many countries around the world have significant aerial 
> infrastructure.  US and Japan especially as markets I'm 
> familiar with.   They have aerial Cu, Fibre and Coax.  None 
> of which, in my discussions with various O/S telcos seem to 
> worry them significantly in terms of maintenance, risk etc. 

The aerial deployment of fibre (particularly in the US) is a lesson in
how NOT to rollout an aerial network.  It is an absolute disgrace and
holding up their aerial deployment as an acceptable model is a poor
choice.  I travel to the US quite often and am alarmed at the incredibly
unsightly and very often poorly engineered aerial deployments.  Travel
down any street and you will find numerous power poles not standing
completely perpendicular to the ground due to over deployment of lines
on the poles.  Sometimes I think the only reason they are now standing
up is that the fibre cables are holding them there!  I understand this
isn't a direct technical criticism of aerial deployments, however you
need to be acutely aware that a significant portion of the existing
power pole infrastructure in Australia's metro areas is already at or
near well engineered limits.  This is because overhead lines plus a
Telstra and Optus HFC line is added to the mix leaving little or no
headroom for future electrical capacity upgrades.

> Verizon have said that the maintenance costs of their fibre 
> network (FiOS) (some above, some underground) are 
> significantly less than Cu and more reliable.   They have 
> developed significant technology around FTTP install which 
> makes it easy to do and not require as skilled people.

I agree that a well engineered and considered fibre installation is easy
to maintain particularly without add, moves or changes.  However the
same cannot be said about a poorly considered and engineered fibre
network or with significant adds, moves or changes.  Let's assume for
the moment the fibre network will be well engineered.

> In SA there is significant amounts of aerial fibre from one 
> telco.  The outages caused by fibre physical failure have 
> been few and far between.  Certainly no more than I'd expect 
> from underground cable, maybe less due to the fact that 
> people can see above electricity cables vs can't see 
> underground cables!

Hehe.  Our national network of cable (of which every metre is
underground) has only had 9 hits.  5 of which are in a new area of
development called Springfield and in our own duct.  We do all the dial
before you digs, we go out onsite, we mark the ground.  It's just there
is soooo much development happening out there and they are pulling in
some backhoe drivers who don't give a toss they disregard our advices.
Literally digging over our paint lines as set out by our staff.  It is
amazing.  After hitting every one of them for damages the frequency has
slowed a little.   The remaining in more established parts of metro
Australia (and predominately Telstra duct) have only experience 4 hits
over 5 years (and about an average of 1,000km of cable). I tend to think
had the Springfield cable been overhead then there may have been less
hits.  However for the rest of our network,  I would argue that had this
been overhead, then garbage trucks lifting wheelie bins, car accidents
into power poles, storms and trees falling over the lines would have
experienced many, many more outages than that.  In some leafy areas of
Brisbane there has been a considered effort to push it underground at
least the transmission lines.  Also, quite a lot of the Foxtel/Optus
cable is also underground too (at least in our area at Chapel Hill).
Don't forget that the rest of Australia doesn't stick a massive steel
reinforcement bar either side of their power poles and fill them full of
concrete (stogies or something?)  A very Adelaide thing apparently.  In
fact Energy Australia from memory don't consider diverse paths on
overhead fibre acceptable as a DR solution for their network at least
one path has to be underground.  I'm not saying overhead isn't good
enough for residential, I would agree that in many cases it would be.
But to be clear you need to evaluate all the options available.

I would also go further to say that my definition of underground is at
least 600mm deep and in a conduit.  If it isn't sufficiently deep or in
conduit (at least for local services and not inter-city/town long haul)
then overhead probably would be safer.  I know some advisors to Conroy
are suggesting 'in the groove' as a deployment method.  I think this is
the most unreliable deployment method available and to be avoided unless
the other options are non-commercial or technically impractical.

> It's certainly a valid point to ask about what other things 
> could be done for the $43b.  It's the role of government to 
> weigh these things up.   I guess the decision point is that 
> GDP is likely to get a 0.5% boost from FTTP but none from 
> water projects.   Water is primarily a state issue, so I 
> guess they're doing what all Federal Govts do and leave the 
> ugly stuff to the states.  

I would seriously beg to differ that sustaining water for residential,
commercial and farming will not assist GDP, or to the contrary not to
have guaranteed water supply for the production of crops, provide water
to power stations and therefore electricity to the nation would not have
any effect on GDP.  Let alone the environmental impact of same. I won't
get in to the politics of what is right and what is wrong, but living in
Queensland we've seen first hand the effects of just the *risk* of not
having guaranteed water supply is.  It is about that time you get real
about what is and isn't important to the country.  Me in the metro given
the choice of water security versus upgrading my ADSL2+ connection to
100Mb/s is an easy decision.  Nearly as easy as the farmer in rural
Australia having a choice between water security and a new faster
'satellite' connection under the NBN.  Which do you think he/she would
think is more important?  I would further argue that the increase to GDP
is a based on that of the law of diminishing return basis meaning $10B
buys an increase of 'x' when $20B buys an increase of 'x+25%'.  $40B
provides 'x+50%' type scenario.  I'm not going into the politics of it
all, just pointing out what to me seems an important point to consider
in this discussion.  I would hope with all this spending some serious
upgrading of national infrastructure occurs and that broadband doesn't
get the only (or largest) piece of the pie.  There are many, many other
as worthy issues which need attention also.


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