Friday, 20 August 2010

Why Labor's national broadband plan will fail

As a network architect for one of Australia 's largest telco's - Samuel Johnston speaks with some authority on Labor's National Broadband plan.

Here are the technical reasons why Labor's National Broadband Network plan will fail:

  • Fibre optic cable has a maximum theoretical lifespan of 25 years when installed in conduit. Over time, the glass actually degrades (long story), and eventually it cant do it`s bouncing of light thing any more. But when you install fibre outside on overhead wiring (as will be done for much of Australia 's houses, except newer suburbs with underground wiring), then the fibre degrades much quicker due to wind, temperature variation and solar/cosmic radiation. The glass in this case will last no more than 15 years. So after 15 years, you will have to replace it. Whereas the copper network will last for many decades to come. Fibre is not the best technology for the last mile. That's why no other country has done this.

  • You can not give every house 100Mbps. If you give several million households 100Mbps bandwidth, then you have exceeded the entire bandwidth of the whole internet. In reality, there is a thing called contention. Today, every ADSL service with 20Mbps has a contention ratio of around 20:1 (or more for some carriers). That means, you share that 20Mbps with 20 other people. It`s a long story why, but there will NEVER be the case of people getting 100Mbps of actual bandwidth. Not for several decades at current carrier equipment rates of evolution. The "Core" can not and will not be able to handle that sort of bandwidth. The 100Mbps or 1Gbps is only the speed from your house to the exchange. From there to the Internet, you will get the same speeds you get now. The "Core" of Australia 's network is already fibre (many times over). And even so, we still have high contention ratios. Providing fibre to the home just means those contention ratios go up. You will not get better download speeds.

  • New DSL technologies will emerge. 15 years ago we had 56k dial-up. Then 12 years ago we got 256k ADSL, then 8 years ago 1.5Mbps ADSL2, then 5 years ago 20Mbps ADSL2+. There are already new DSL technologies being experimented on that will deliver over 50Mbps on the same copper we have now. $zero cost to the tax payer

  • 4G wireless is being standardised now. The current 3G wireless was developed for voice and not for data, and even so it can deliver up to 21Mbps in Australia . There are problems with it, but remember that it was developed for voice. The 4G standard is specifically being developed for data, and will deliver 100Mbps bandwidth with much higher reliability (yes, the same contention issues apply mentioned earlier). $zero cost to the tax payer

  • The "NBN" will be one of the largest single networks ever built on earth. There are only a few companies who could do it - Japan 's Nippon NTT, BT, AT&T;, Deutsche Telekom etc. Even Telstra would struggle to built something on this scale. Yet we are led to believe that the same people who cant build school halls or install insulation without being ripped off are going to to do it ??? Here at Telstra, we are laughing our heads off !! Because when it all comes crumbling down, after they have spent $60+billion and the network is no more than 1/2 complete, it will be up to Telstra to pick up the pieces ! (shhhh.. don't tell anyone, it`s our secret)


Barry said...

Like Telstra has credibility too...
laugh away you clowns.

Hingehead said...

How about a story attribution? Who is this Samuel Johnston? Why does this 'news' not appear in the news?

And that's before you actually read the blatant lies and incongruous conclusions in the piece. If optic fibre such a pain why do they lay it undersea as the backbone for internation networks?

The ridiculous logic you can't give every house 100mbps because it would exceed the entire bandwidth of the internet shows a disingenousness bordering on psychosis, because:
a) not every point will be accessing 100mbps 24x7
b)when you download something your packet stream doesn't travel across every node and network on the internet.

DSL will get better but optic traffic protocols won't? Spare me.

And then the 'if they can't manage roof insulation' reference - well that's the sort of technical argument I'd expect from a Telstra technicians. Not.

This is so clearly a fake pushing a political objective that I'm amazed you published it.

Tech head? Egg Head? **** head!

armyboi said...

Telstra have a higher band rate available just waiting for a switch to be thrown, but refuse to do so with the current legislation requiring them to make it available to other carriers (or so I am led to believe by a Telstra employee), so how can we rely on their statements on the subject?

Bogan Brood said...

I can't think of a better use for $5,000 in my household but to create an internet connection I can the spend $100/month on till I die. Yessiree Bob, it'll be a corker. Brought to you by the same people who created the multi-billion-dollar school tuckshop.

Oliver Redlynch said...

There are so many holes in Samuel's argument I won't even bother with a full technical reply - and MY credentials are 23 years in the international telecoms industry starting with ESA, Reuters and the MOD. We'll conveniently forget "blown fibre", "100 Mbit copper" etc.

So even if the last mile IS still copper, bringing fibre up to the street boxes will dramatically improve the performance of our current internet. People simply don't want mobile towers on each street.

Suffice to say - the first phase is already working very well in Tasmania, with cheaper than ADSL prices and very happy customers.

Syd Walker said...

Michael, can you please provide more details about 'Samuel Johnson' the Australian 'network architect' who apparently authored this opinion piece?

I can't seem to find any other references to him on the web. Is the article a CairnsBlog exclusive?

Does Mr Johnson himself have any references to offer regarding the lifespan of fibre-optic. It's his first and most prominent dot point argument - but I haven't noticed it feature in the NBN debate so far.

In short, can you please authenticate this article?

Without substantiating information, I'd put it in the 'possible disinformation' basket.

Skyd Talker said...

I know I've said before that labor will have to really convince me before it gets my preference vote.

Well, they've convinced me because none of their critics can provide accurate and adequate documents proving themselves to be God. Simple, really.

Vote for Jim Turnour me hearties!

Syd Walker said...

Are you unable to authenticate this article Michael?

If you can't, should the article be left online with its screaming negative headline to misinform your readership?

If it doesn't check out maybe you could publish your source...

Michael P Moore said...

It's authentic Syd. I got this contribution from an expert technical mind in the industry. I will happily publish an opposing view, if it's presented, however I subscribe to the view that the Government hasn't the ability to be engaging in such a task.

Destiny said...

Michael - like Syd, I'd like to see something more substantial than a reassurance about Mr Johnston's qualification to judge because as most of this is beyond my my areas of knowledge I need to be able to judge the sources I take information from.

And I find it difficult to believe Telstra would allow an employee to say what Samuel says in the last paragraph. Is the name given his real name - or have you allowed him the use of a pseudonym? We need to be told such details.

Telecom Technician said...

"the copper network will last for many decades to come"

Has this guy ever visited the planet earth?

Syd Walker said...

Michael, why are there no references to this guy anywhere else on the web?

That's why I asked if it's a Cairnsblog exclusive. If you can find a 'Samuel Johnston' who works for a telco as a network architect (or in any other kind of IT role) please show me the reference.

Otherwise I think we have to conclude you've been suckered. You might want to talk to your source about that.

It's possible 'Samuel Johnston' is a pseudonymn. If so, we are

(a) entitled to be told that up front

(b) free to draw the obvious conclusion: an unreferenced op-ed, published on election eve, written by an unknown person of unknown qualifications with an unstated agenda, is likely to be Party Political propaganda and nothing more.

If you want to present that kind of stuff as informed opinion it's your call Mike. You're the man in the mirror.

Skyd Talker said...

Vote for Jim!

Fred - Sydney said...

What a load of BS.

The physical in-service life of optical cable is yet to be accurately determined as it is such a recent technology (late '70s). Reliability modelling shows its life is determined by fibre stress and environment and these factors are taken into account during network design. In-service life is certainly greater than 25 years.

However, 25 years is used as the amortisation period for cost modelling (the economic period over which entire network would be replaced).

At this point no major carrier is considering ripping out any of the trunks installed since 1980 unless they need to upgrade. I.e. beyond the new endpoint technologies like WDM and have limited duct space. The cost of upgrade is factored into the new service.

The main cause of failure of old trunks is by being dug up by ignorant excavators - not degradation.

As for aerial cable reliability I'd suggest manufacturers like Fujikura would take umbrage at such misinformed/incorrect statements. Aerial cables have comparable reliability to buried.

Samuel Johnston is no credible authority!

I Am The Stig said...

I recall reading some of this recently supposedly from an Employee of Cisco Systems which prompted me to look into the claims of the Fibre Optics life expectancy. There are many different views on it but certainly the number of 25 years appears common. There was also the reference to the 4G Network which I tend to agree is the way to go and far less costlier.

P Wellings said...

Bogan Brood - with your lack of vision and understanding - what an apt name.

Telstra employee said...

[ .... however I subscribe to the view that the Government hasn't the ability to be engaging in such a task .... ]

And that's it, isn't it?

You have no idea if this guy is genuine, and you don't care.

He subscribes to your view, and that's all that counts.

Like others here I cannot be bothered to refute the crap this fake has come up with, but believe me, (or not), it really is a pile of bullshit.

Telstra employee said...

[ .... I got this contribution from an expert technical mind in the industry .... ]

You mean you got an email from someone you don't know, like many others did. said...

Is this true?

Where's fatty and skinny to comment when you actually want to hear what they have to say?

"I'm not a nerd, I'm a geek" FOAD!

Syd Walker said...

Confused voters should be aware that the Greens support the NBN in principle - seeing a high-speed fibre-optic network as important new infrastructure for Australia's future.

However, the Greens have demanded a thorough cost-benefit analysis of Labor's NBN proposal - something so far lacking.

The Greens believe that the new network, once built, should be kept in public ownership and not resold to the private sector. The wholesale network is a natural public monopoly, like the road network. The Greens understand that and don't intend to repeat John Howard's historic mistakes in telecoms policy.

Where the Greens diverge significantly from Labor is over content management, censorship and privacy. The Greens have consistently asked questions about and opposed central government power grabs proposed by Labor's Senator Conroy. The Greens would strenuously oppose moves to use the NBN as a way of favouring media mates and entrenching existing media monopolies.

Vote Greens 1 for the best of all worlds in telecoms policy - proper economic analysis, in principle support for a fast publicly-owned wholesale network, strong commitment to net neutrality, content diversity, retail competition and consumer choice, respect for civil liberties and free speech.

Vote Greens 1 also to help strengthen the voice of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, the only Communications spokesperson in Parliament who shows serious signs that he knows what he's talking about.

JimInCairns said...

'Vote for the greens'?? They'd have us living in mud huts beating out messages on bloody jungle drums.

stinhambo said...

Mike please! NBN isn't being project managed by the Government, it's being managed by people that have experience in doing this already.

Even if it is over budget, it's not coming out of our tax dollars in one go. It's over 8-10 years. Divide people's mistaken figure of $43b (It's actually nearer to $28b) by 8 then compare to the federal yearly budget and then realise what the NBN will do for small business (and not faster YouTube) in regional/rural areas like Cairns.

This thread reflects my sentiments exactly -

We have been held hostage to Telstra's shareholders before the country attitude to improving infrastructure for too long.

Look at these costs and then tell me that NBN won't deliver value for money for residential use let alone business -

Consistent broadband access will give people more freedom to live and work where they want which will encourage small business to move to regional areas.

At the moment we are stuck in White Rock as we don't know if we can get ADSL anywhere else in Cairns. Telstra tell us it's available around Cairns but can't confirm until we order it. Well that's no good as we haven't moved there yet!

There are so many other reasons to believe in this network even if it goes twice over budget.

One thing I admit is that the Government haven't sold it very effectively but luckily people like me have the vision to see the benefits for ALL and not just people who want to download YouTube all day.