Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NBN Passive optical network

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access InfrastructureNBN Co, who have the job of building the National Broadband Network for Australia, plan to use a passive optical network, in particular GPON or ITU-T G.984. This reduces the amount of electronics needed in the network, reducing the cost and increasing the reliability. It also allows the speed of the network to be increased by replacing relatively few electronic components and not changing the optical fibre. In addition it reduces the number of fibres which have to be run long distances.

The passive optical network uses optical splitters to divide the signal on one optical fibre so it can be distributed to several dozen homes (up to about 100). Each home gets the signals sent to all homes, so encryption has to be used for privacy. Data sent from the homes is sent with a multiple access protocol,, with each sharing some of the fibre capacity.

It is not clear from the planning documents, but hopefully multicasting will be supported by the passive part of the network. That is for sending the same data to many people, for example for digital TV, the one optical signal will be sent to all houses, rather than sending multiple copies of the same thing to each house.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NBN Broadband Plan

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access InfrastructureNBN Co have issued "NBN Co consultation paper: proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products" (21 December 2009) . Written submissions are invited by 12 February 2010 and Industry Briefing Sessions will be held in Sydney and Melbourne, on 20 and 29 January 2010. \

The paper is 27 pages (2.6Mbytes of PDF). It is very precisely, but clearly written. There are well executed technical diagrams. Of particular note is the diagram for "Fibre Serving Area – Indicative Access Infrastructure" illustrating the relationship between Multi Dwelling Units, Internal Fibre and Optical Network Termination. The only suggestion for improvement I could make is for NBN Co to produce a web version.

Of note:
  1. NBN Co plans to provide Ethernet: "It is NBN Co’s view that the Layer 2 products for mass-market fibre services should be based on Ethernet delivery, utilising GPON as the physical access technology. Please note that NBN Co has yet to define Layer 2 offers beyond the mass-market."
  2. NBN Plans support for voice, video and other QoS sensitive applications, with 4 classes of service.
  3. A Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is being considered with an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) integrated within the Optical Network Termination (ONT).
  4. In its consultation process NBN Co. specifically mentions the Communications Alliance: "... NBN Co will continue to collaborate with industry as part of the Communications Alliance process."
  5. NBN Co intends to support multi-cast protocols, which allows for broadcast like services for IPTV and digital radio: "As NBN Co intends to deliver a multi-cast capability, some Layer 3 awareness will be required within the NBN to support the delivery of IPTV services."
Some excerpts from the paper:
  1. Introduction 3
  2. Building a fibre access network 6
  3. NBN Co’s overall product objectives 8
  4. Choice of layer in the vertical technology stack 9
  5. High level technology standards 12
  6. Location of Points of Interconnect for NBN Co wholesale fibre network 14
  7. NBN Co wholesale fibre bitstream products definition 17
  8. Important product elements 20
  9. Conclusion and next steps 24
1. Introduction Background
NBN Co’s role is to realise the Australian Government’s vision for the development of a next generation national broadband network. To do this successfully, we need to consult widely to ensure our plans for the network meet the current and future needs of our wholesale customers and the wider Australian community.

This Consultation Paper:
  • sets out the conceptual framework that will underpin the development of our proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products
  • focuses on the 90% of premises that are expected to receive high speed broadband services through fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology.1 It does not consider wholesale product offerings over wireless or satellite networks
  • outlines our current thinking on the design of the NBN Co fibre network and the wholesale bitstream products to be provided over that network
In particular, this paper will discuss:
  • the objectives that will underpin NBN Co’s development of its fibre wholesale products
  • the level in the vertical technology stack in which NBN Co intends to offer its fibre wholesale products
  • the high-level technology standards on which NBN Co will build its network
  • NBN Co’s proposed policy for determining the location of Points of Interconnect (PoIs)
  • an overview of the two fibre wholesale products that NBN Co intends to initially offer to its wholesale customers
  • the service features that are intended to be supported by NBN Co’s wholesale fibre products
This Consultation Paper does not attempt to outline the full details of NBN Co’s proposed wholesale fibre products, nor does it describe the various pricing structures of those products. The price structure of our wholesale fibre products will be presented to the industry during NBN Co’s consultation program that will take place in early 2010.

1 Note that in some deployment scenarios (e.g. Multi-Dwelling Units or MDUs) fibre will be delivered to the premises and distribution of services to individual units or service locations will occur via internal building wiring. The details of the MDU solution are not contained in this Product Consultation Paper.

Summary of NBN Co’s proposed wholesale fibre products
  • NBN Co plans to offer a wholesale Layer 2 bitstream product – in doing so, NBN Co will seek to occupy as small a footprint as possible in the overall value chain, leaving retail service providers (RSPs) with significant ability to innovate and develop new services in the higher levels of the value chain.
  • The location of PoIs will be optimised to support healthy competition among RSPs and align with contestable backhaul. For more densely populated areas, such as urban and regional centres, a “local” Point of Interconnection (PoI) is will be established for each Fibre Serving Area (FSA),2 while for less densely populated areas, a “district” PoI (which aggregates two or more FSAs together), will be established. If competitive backhaul is not available from a PoI, supplementary provision of backhaul may be required for a limited period of time to permit the emergence of competitive backhaul on these routes. Only one PoI will be available for any FSA. The number and location of PoIs is still to be determined.
NBN Co will offer its wholesale Layer 2 bitstream product in two forms:
  • the ––Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB) product will provide our wholesale customers with a Layer-2 access service between the Optical Network Termination (ONT) at an end-user premises and a “local” PoI, located at the Fibre Access Node for the relevant FSA. The LEB product is likely to be offered in capital cities and regional centres. It is envisaged that the LEB product will be made available in respect of the significant proportion of FSAs in Australia.
  • the–– Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB) product is likely to be offered in rural areas where there are no competitive backhaul services below the PoI. The AEB product enables aggregated access to one or more FSAs via an aggregated link. The LEB product will not be available in locations where the AEB product is made available.
Both the LEB and AEB products offers will be based on an Ethernet platform, utilising Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) as the physical access technology. The technology will deliver a range of active service features including security and Quality of Service (QoS), as well as IP multicast.

Our wholesale products will support access by multiple RSPs, a range of customer premises • equipment (CPE) and will include an interface for analogue telephony. The detail of how these elements will be presented to our wholesale customers will be discussed in later consultation papers.

2 A Fibre Serving Area (FSA) is defined as the area covered by one or more Passive Optical Networks (PONs) terminating at the same “Fibre Access Node”.


2. Building a fibre access network

90 per cent of Australian premises are planned to be served by a fibre access network. While NBN Co is currently undertaking a detailed assessment, planning and design process, to facilitate the consultation program, an indicative configuration of the access network is set out in the
following diagram:

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access Infrastructure


4. Choice of layer in the vertical technology stack

... NBN Co considers that a Layer 2 product is most closely aligned with NBN Co’s stated objectives and is most likely to facilitate the achievement of optimum competitive outcomes over the short-to-medium term. Layer 2 products are also most likely to support end-user choice and simplicity, while avoiding the downside risks associated with Layer 3 products, such as a lack of competitive differentiation and limited scope for innovation. ...

5. H High level technology standards

It is NBN Co’s view that the Layer 2 products for mass-market fibre services should be based on Ethernet delivery, utilising GPON as the physical access technology. Please note that NBN Co has yet to define Layer 2 offers beyond the mass-market. ...

Point to multipoint technologies (known as PON – passive optical networks) such as Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) and Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) provide a shared medium for customers, with only individual fibre tails post the splitter. In contrast, point-to-point optical networks provide customers with a full fibre for their exclusive use. ...

Do you believe this model will help foster participation by RSPs in less densely populated locations? What other barriers exist to participation by RSP in these locations? How might NBN Co help address them? Do you believe this model allow sufficient space for participation and investment by commercial backhaul players? What concerns may need to be managed? What criteria should be considered when determining whether the currently available backhaul to a particular proposed regional or district PoI is competitive? What criteria should be considered to assess the likelihood of competitive backhaul being developed in the near-term future at a regional or district location where present backhaul options are not yet deemed to be competitive?

7. NBN Co wholesale fibre bitstream products definition

A. The product offering
NBN Co is proposing to initially offer the following two FTTP products to the market:
1. Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB)
2. Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB)
Essentially, both products have the same access capability, with the AEB service offering a short-haul aggregation service for those rural and regional areas where contestable backhaul options have not yet emerged. ...

8. I Important product elements

Traffic Management & Prioritisation

NBN Co’s product offering will provide QoS options to support voice, video and other QoS sensitive applications (although timing of these options is subject to current assessment). Ethernet and GPON provide the capabilities to support a QoS differentiated product. The LEB and AEB products will support 802.1p identification of Ethernet traffic priority. ...

At this stage NBN Co is planning to support 4 classes of service although it has not been determined when and how all options would become available. They are:

  • Provides guaranteed low levels of delay and jitter
  • Suitable for voice and other communicative services. This is the highest priority traffic
  • Assurances for the levels of jitter and packet loss
  • Suitable for video / VOD, including multicast services
  • This class provides a second highest priority of traffic
  • Provides a higher level of assurance than the best effort class, with lower probability of delay, jitter and congestion
  • Suitable for commercial data services, business grade data services
Best effort
  • No performance guarantees
  • Suitable for high speed internet
  • This is the lowest priority traffic and anticipated to carry high volumes of data with varying levels of performance according to instantaneous congestion

Voice Option

As a means to aid transition from current access technologies to the NBN, inclusion of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) capability is being considered to support legacy telephony services.

It is proposed that this will be achieved via an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) integrated within the Optical Network Termination (ONT). Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) will form the core of the interface definition for this capability. Further details of the implementation of the POTS capability will be released in due course. ...


Multicast is a technology whereby content transmitted simultaneously to two or more end users (e.g. IPTV programs) is carried as a single stream as far into the network as possible before being replicated (i.e. divided) and on-forwarded to end-users. Replication may occur at more than one point along the end to end path, resulting in a tree of replicated streams. The multicast technique can achieve significant bandwidth savings for the delivery of one-to-many services.

It is NBN Co’s intention to deliver a multicast capability, which will require the incorporation of some Layer 3 awareness to support its delivery. The details of multicast implementation are still under consideration. ...

This section outlines key elements of NBN Co’s planned product specification. Are there any other • technical parameters that should be included?
What multicast capabilities have service providers identified? Should the NBN Co access network proxy IGMP functionality and consolidate reporting before passing messages through to the service provider, or do particular services require access to all IGMP communications from all end users? In other words, should NBN Co manage multicast signalling scalability on behalf of the access seekers, or would this unacceptably limit the kinds of multicast services that are being contemplated? How to provide SPs with the ability to confirm connectivity and power? Whether standards are required for CPE installation, reporting and management to allow customer • self install, remote CPE configuration and downstream service provisioning? How to ensure continued support for smart grid and other public services such as safety, health and education? How should legacy voice services be provided? The benefits and disadvantages of integrating Pay TV capabilities into the ONT? The merits and disadvantages of an RF Overlay approach towards Pay TV versus an IP multicast approach?
Should battery backup capabilities, for the purpose of maintaining POTS (or optionally, data) • connectivity for a limited period of time following a power outage, be offered to end users at the time of ONT installation and should the choice be optional? How can the environmental costs be responsibly managed and how can the costs appropriately shared between end users and their chosen RSPs? How can end users be best educated to make an informed choice? ...

From: NBN Co consultation paper: proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products, NBN Co, 21 December 2009

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Final thoughts on Our Broadband Future

Roger Clarke wrote some "Final Thoughts about the Broadband Future Event" in Sydney last week. For me the event ended on a positive note with Genevieve Bell, on e-Community. It was refreshing to hear ideas about broadband for people to use,
rather than as something done to them.

I started to suffer from conference fatigue on the last day, to the
point that in a moment of inattention I plugged the wrong power supply into my wireless modem and destroyed it.

George Bray wrote in the Link List: "I was able to participate remotely from my beachside cabin ...". In a way he got better access to the event than I did, sitting in the venue (just behind the PM, Minister and assorted dignitaries).

There were power boards and WiFi supplied for the Twiterarty in the fist and last few rows of seats. However, sitting cramped over a 10 inch netbook screen in your lap for hours is not very comfortable. Given that much of the time I was not looking at the live speaker, but instead at my netbook or at the projected image on the big screen in the auditorium, I might as well have been somewhere more comfortable.

There were some advantages being there live, such as the spectacle of Senator Lundy operate a laptop with one hand while Twittering on a smart phone with the other. The coffee and lunch breaks were very high bandwidth networking events. A node of ACS people formed in the centre of the room, grabbing anyone important who wandered past and lobbying them on assorted issues (It was useful to be able to meet the new ACS CEO and President Elect).

It was a little unsettling to wander into a conversation and find the Minister for Communications, the head of the ABC, or the PM part of the discussion.

One frustration I had was that the media were never in the media room, they were wandering around taking part in the discussions. The speakers preparation room was more open that I have seen it at commercial events, with non-speakers allowed to wander in.

Another frustration was the large number of the Link mailing list members present. As everyone else was furiously trying to plug their product or policy proposal, I tried this myself, but people kept saying: "Yes Tom, I read you posting about that on Link".

In retrospect, perhaps I would have been better off sitting in the media or speaker's room at a comfortable desk during the sessions, watching them on screen. Then I could have come out to mingle during the breaks.

The stream sessions did not work so well. The problem was that most of the time was taken up with talks by the panellists. While mostly excellent people and speakers, this was a waste of the limited time. It would have been better to provide the talks online in advance and then go straight to discussions. Also I could not get the Wiki to work at all, despite (or because of) all the user-ids and passwords I had been issued with. As a result I felt I had less ability to communicate by being in the room.

This was an excellent experiment in an Internet enhanced event (not quite as good as the Internet Global Summit).

But perhaps more of the bar camp format could be adopted. There was too much spent on glitz and stage managing. As an example we could have done without the glossy colour program (so glossy you could not scribble notes on it). A sheet of monochrome paper printed at the last minute (so it was up to date) would have done. The expensive looking neoprene
conference satchel was so large it was an encumbrance and does someone at the Department have a rubber fetish? ;-)

Perhaps what is needed is an official event with the important speeches and "fringe" events with the less formal bar camp style discussions.

ps: Technology does have its limits. After the forum I took a 370 bus to King Street to go to a performance of "Cabret" at the New Theatre. In the street I bumped into Chris
Chesher, who mentioned there is a Fibreculture event on Wednesday, about "Freedom and control in the Australian Internet".

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, December 11, 2009

e-Community in Our Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). The event ended on a positive note with Genevieve Bell, on e-Community. It was refreshing to hear ideas about broadband for people to use, rather than as something done to them.

Labels: , , ,

Wireless Our Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). Stephen Wilson, CIO, NSW Department of Education and Training, described how wireless will be provided on school grounds. There seems to be little point in the school sector building a wireless network. Instead, I have already suggested, NBN Co. provide wireless as part of their network.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tasmanian Open Source e-Learning Materials for Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). Dr Evan Arthur pointed out that their were difficult issues with access to educationally relevant digital materials, such as ABC's archive. One way I suggest the education sector could help of federal funding that such a licence is used. This could start with the funding for e-learning which the PM announced for Tasmania yesterday. The Commonwealth can simply specify the open source licence, such as Creative Commons, to be used. The Tasmanian Government will then be required to comply with that licence in order to receive funding. If done carefully this can also boost the Tasmanian economy by encouraging additional commercial services which can add to the open source.
"In Tasmania, we will invest $4.9 million in the Connected - Any Student, Any School project. This will enable Tasmanian schools to use technologies to offer exciting and innovative personalised learning opportunities - using practical, hands on and local, national and global e-learning programs and services. In the short term, the focus will be on services in the NBN pilot towns of Scottsdale and Smithton, while in the longer term services will be delivered across the whole of Tasmania as the NBN is deployed...."

From: Realising our broadband future, Prime Minister of Australia, 10 December 2009

Labels: , , , ,

Making Education Less Boring in Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). The event has broken into streams and digital education one is on the future of higher education with broadband. Speakers are Dr Evan Arthur, Group Manager, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Technology, Information and Learning Support, Queensland University of Technology and Stephen Wilson, CIO, NSW Department of Education and Training.

Dr Evan Arthur argues that we need to work through the issues of access to digital material for education. This is a harder challenge than the last one he set.

Labels: , , , ,

Tasmanian Alternative Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). After the disappointing presentation from David Bartlett, Premier of Tasmania, there was an excellent talk by Jane Bennett, CEO, Ashgrove Cheese in Tasmania. This was the sort of well researched, sober and serious presentation the Premier should have been given. Perhaps he should take up making cheese and Ms Bennett could take over running Tasmania.

Labels: , , ,

Tasmania's Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). Speaking now is David Bartlett, Premier of Tasmania. I have proposed that Tasmania should put its smaller tourism accommodation online, for Green Broadband Jobs, (so that tourists who can't book online instead decide to go to New Zealand) and hopefully this message will get to the Premier. The premier mentioned the trial for "Smart Street" set top boxes. He also mentioned the potential for smart grid technology combined with renewable power. This would be a good application for Tasmania. Unfortunately whoever wrote the Premier's speech did not research it properly. The speech was peppered with inaccuracies, such as the claim that each google search produced 1.5 Grammes of CO2. Also the level of hype in the speech might suit a political rally but was inappropriate for a broadband conference.

Labels: , , ,

Old Media Still Struggling with Our Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). Abigail E. Thomas, Head, Strategic Innovation & Development, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is talking about how the ABC sees the broadband future. Unfortunately the ABC seems to see this future as little video clips from TV put on a web site. The ABC is making several bold experiments online, but seem to be fixated with old fashioned TV. What the ABC seems to have difficulty with is joining up all the disparate technologies into one current whole. As an example, the ABC is starting to provide radio via Digital Audio Broadcasting, but doesn't provide the same radio via the audio channels already available on digital TV. This would be a very simple to do, but the ABC doesn't do it, perhaps because they see "radio" and "TV" as two separate media.

What ABC needs to do is restructure itself for the new environment: its all bits. The challenge is to work out what business the ABC is in. The convergence of technology would suggest that the ABC is there to collect and create content, which then can be available in the form of text, audio and video. The ABC needs to therefore restructure itself for that environment.

ps: Perhaps I was a little harsh with the ABC. The next speakers were Stuart Tucker, GM Marketing Aussie Home Loans & Iain McDonald, Director, Amnesia. They bored the audience rigid with a tedious history of how Aussie Home Loans uses the web for marketing. Such a presentation might be f interest to marketing executives who had not heard of the web before and were not familiar with its history, but this was a waste of their time and our time at a broadband conference. If this is how Aussie Home Loans think they should do promotion of their business, then this is not a business I would want to invest in.

Labels: , , , ,

Getting to Our Broadband Future

Greetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). Speaking now is Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. He is arguing that investing in broadband is an investemnt in education, health, the enviornment and regional devlopment. Next is Abigail E. Thomas, Head, Strategic Innovation & Development, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Stuart Tucker, GM Marketing Aussie Home Loans & Iain McDonald, Director, Amnesia. After morning tea is David Bartlett, Premier of Tasmania, Australia and Jane Bennett, CEO, Ashgrove Cheese. I have proposed that Tasmania should put its smaller tourism accomidation online, for Green Boradband Jobs, (so that tourists who can't book online instead decide to go to New Zeland) and hopefully this message will get to the Premier.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Education in our Our Broadband Future

Eora Exchange Student Lounge at UNSWGreetings from "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum in Sydney (you can participate online). The afternoon stream I selected is Digital Education with Greg Moo, CIO, Department of Education and Training, Northern Territory, Craig Foster, Education Director, Microsoft Australia, Andrew Skewes, Executive Director, Bendigo Campus, LaTrobe University, David O'Hagan, CIO, The Learning Place, Education Queensland. Also like the rest of the delegates, I am coming to grips with the Wiki for the event. We have all been invited to contribute. My book of my e-learning course was launched earlier at the event.

The first d-education session was a little disappointing. The low point was a promotional video from Microsoft, with their version of the future. This video was not specific to education (and apparently was being show in one of the other streams as well). I was having difficulty getting the wifi to work, so I could use the Wiki and so went out to the conference technical support desk (The conference has excellent technical support).

At that point I decided to take a break and wandered off for a coffee at the student union. The coffee turned out to be free, as I found I had wandered into a scientific conference. This was at something called the "Eora Exchange", by lahznimmo architects. This was a dropping cyber cafe (with real coffee). There are wall botths which seat about six students, on each side of a table. One the wall at the end of each table is a large computer screen, with a VGA cable. There are five power points available on the wall for laptops and another two points on a pop-up panel in the tabletop. Also there is the UNSW wireless. I felt right at home here and was a little reluctant to go back to the fast pace of the forums. Also I felt I was learning more about d-education from observing this room than I had at the official forum.

ps: I tried to post the following comment to the wiki comments on the forum. But I was unable to enter my user id or get the anti-spam image check to work, so here is my comment. Perhaps someone who can get the wiki to work can add it:

One of the reality checks on digital education is that in many ways broadband will not change education. Many of the fundamentals will be the same. My e-learning course, which Senator Lundy launched the book for this morning at the forum is very hi-tech, but underneath is about old fashioned education. David Lindley, calls this Mentored and Collaborative Online Learning. I have coined the term e-Oxbridge education to describe this.

Education has not changed since Aristotle was teaching: the teacher gives some guidance to the student and then sends them off to explore for themselves, later the student discusses what they found with other students under the guidance of a tutor, the student then explores some more alone or in groups and produces more and more complex analyses, until the tutor and the student think they have learnt enough.

Labels: , , , ,

Infrastructure for our Boradband Future

Greetings from the "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum Sydney. Brad Weam, CIO Iron Ore, BHP Billiton is talking about the network used for running iron ore mining in Western Australia to Port Headland. This shows how broadband is literally part of Australian infrastructure. Without the telecommunications, Australia's mining industry would stop. It happens that some years ago I was part of a HQ Australian Defence Force party which visited northern Australia, including Port Headland, looking at how to protect it. While my military colleagues discussed how y satchel charges a terrorist would need to blow up an LNG refinery, I looked at the telecommunications. It would have only needed cutting a few cables to disrupt Australia's major industry. Since then a level of redundancy has been introduced, making a disruption to the system much harder.

Labels: , , , , ,

Green IT Answers the Challenge of Copenhagen

Opening the "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum Sydney this morning, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, stated that broadband could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia by 5%. Senator Kate Lundy then launched a new book "Green Technology Strategies" to detail how to do this. saying "I would like to pay tribute to the work of Tom Worthington with his new book and training on the important issue of dealing with climate change".

Tomw Communications Pty Ltd

Media Release

Green IT Answers the Challenge of Copenhagen

Sydney, 10 December 2009, 11:30am: While the climate change conference in Copenhagen struggles, technologists and political leaders are detailing practical answers today in Sydney. Opening the "Realising Our Broadband Future" forum Sydney this morning, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, stated that broadband could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia by 5%. Senator Kate Lundy then launched a new book "Green Technology Strategies" to detail how to do this. saying "I would like to pay tribute to the work of Tom Worthington with his new book and training on the important issue of dealing with climate change".

The new book "Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions" by Tom Worthington, is available online for free, as well as in printed and e-book download formats: <http://www.tomw.net.au/green/>

The book is about how to reduce carbon emissions and achieve other environmental benefits by using computers and telecommunications technology. It is designed to be used within an online course for professionals, using mentored and collaborative learning techniques. The book is currently being used in masters level postgraduate courses offered by the Australian National University, Open Universities Australia and the Australian Computer Society.

Author and course designer, Tom Worthington, claims that using the techniques of Green IT can reduce greenhouse emissions globally by 25% by 2020. Tom Worthington, an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the ANU said: "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions rewuires us to work cleverer. As the Prime Minister said, technologies such as broadband can make a significant contribution to reducing emissions and boosting economic development.We can grow the economy and save the planet at the same time."

See also:

* Realising Our Broadband Future forum: <http://broadbandfuture.gov.au/participating-remotely/>
* Green Information Technology Strategies (COMP7310), Graduate Studies Select program, Australian National University: <http://studyat.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310;details.html>
* Green Technology Strategies, Computer Professional Education Program, Australian Computer Society: <http://www.acs.org.au/cpeprogram/index.cfm?action=show&conID=greenict>
* Green ICT Strategies (ACS25), Postgraduate Program of Open Universities Australia, available from 2010 to students of Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia: <https://www.open.edu.au/wps/PA_eBusinessPortlets/Unit-Profile-?year=2010&unitCode=ACS25>

Authorised by, and media contact: Tom Worthington FACS HLM
t: 0419496150 email: tom.worthington@tomw.net.au
Director, TomW Communications Pty Ltd., PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia http://www.tomw.net.au

Media release at: http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2009/12/green-it-answers-challenge-of.html

*** Ends ***

Labels: , , , , ,

NBN CEO on Our Broadband Future

Greetings from the Realising Our Broadband Future forum at University of NSW in Sydney (you can participate remotely). Mike Quigley, Chief Executive Officer of NBN Co., has been explaining that the National Broadband Network is installing fibre to the premises for demanding applications, such as video. He argued that wireless broadband could not provide this due to limited spectrum (in fact the conference organisers asked deli gates to limit their access o the WiFi in the room). The NBN CEO suggests they will need a couple of KA Band satellites for remote areas of Australia (which brings us back to AusSat). NBN will also provide an analog telephone adaptor.

Most of what Mike Quigley said I agree with. However, wireless devices do not necessarily needs as much bandwidth as fixed devices. When watching video on your mobile phone you need much less bandwidth than when watching on a regular TV. This is because the mobile device has a much smaller screen and so needs less data. Similarly, mobile web applications need less bandwidth because people are busy doing other things when they are out and about. Applications in the "cloud" can summarise the data and present just what the user wants to know then and there. A good example of how this has surprised telecommunications companies are SMS and e-mail. These are very plain text based services which take little bandwidth, but a very popular

In my view, the NBN will need to evolve to incorporate wireless. This might be done at, or near the premises. Under current schemes, the NBN will deliver fibre to the home. The customer will then likely attach a wireless router to the NBN termination. As a result the last 10m of the NBN will be wireless. However, this last 10m, which is the most important to the customer will not be managed by the NBN and will waste capacity. Each premise will have a separate wireless device, which will compete for bandwidth. I suggest that instead the NBN should provide a terminating device with wireless built in. That wireless can then be used by the customer in their own home, but also shared with their neighbours. This will make a cheaper, more resilient system. If the home owner's NBN link fails, they can automatically switch over to use the neighbours. If they need more than one node provides, they can use several. If a smart meter or burglar alarm is installed in their hoe, ti will take no configuration, as it can use the standard wireless. Similar wireless telephony can use the wireless network.

Next is: Jeffrey Cole, Director USC Annenberg School.

Senator Kate Lundy will then be launching my book "Green Technology Strategies" in her speech. But first the Minister for Communications will introduce Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister.

Labels: , , , , ,

PM on Our Broadband Future

Greetings from the Realising Our Broadband Future forum at University of NSW in Sydney (you can participate remotely). Senator Kate Lundy. will be launching my book "Green Technology Strategies" in her speech. But first the Minister for Communications will introduce Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister.

The PM talked about the NBN as the infrastructure for jobs of the 21st century, as the railways were in previous times: "Slow broadband is holding our nation back ... Australians want high speed broadband." The PM quoted a claim that broadband could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia by 5%. The PM announced $26.5M in grants across Australia $2.3M Ambulance mobile connect in SA: mobile terminals in ambulances. $7.5 Health E-Towns. Also $500,000 for bushfire spotting in North East Victoria. $5M Hunter health for telehealth. WA for buhfire prediction and warning services. $4.9M for e-learning in Tasmania at the NBN pilot towns. $4M CDM health project for cronic desease management accross Austrlaia.

The program for the morning is: Opening Remarks: Forum Co-chair - Dr Paul Twomey, Senator, the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Opening Address, Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Mike Quigley, Chief Executive Officer of NBN Co., Jeffrey Cole, Director USC Annenberg School.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Participating in the Realising Our Broadband Future forum

Only a few hundred people can attend the Realising Our Broadband Future forum in Sydney this week. The organisers have therefore arranged for Participating Remotely. Main (plenary) sessions will be webcast and smaller workshop sessions audio streamed. The format for this is simialr to that developed for the Public Sphere events and is explained at Senator Kate Lundy's website.

The twitter hash tag #bbfuture is being used for the event, allowing comments.

Ideas and questions for discussion can be submitted in 'Open to Your Ideas'. This moderated forum accepts short Twitter style comments, plus You Tube video. They can be on of the five discussion streams: Smart Infrastructure, Digital Education, e-Communities, e-Health and e-Business.

Also there will be a Wiki will to bring together ideas, with a separate section for each stream. The audio of the live sessions will also be linked for replay.

There are also some remote venues for live participation, such as Parramatta City Council.

Last night I attended a Google Wave developers session. Wave and similar technologyg ives the prospect of a more unified and easier to understand way to do such collaboration. While instant messaging, video, wikis and web forums provide useful tools, there is a confusing range of different interfaces.

Conference Program Day 1 - Thursday 10 December 2009
0800Registration Open
Plenary Session
0900Opening Remarks: Forum Co-chair - Dr Paul Twomey, Senior President of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers

Session chair - Senator, the Hon. Stephen Conroy,
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
0905Opening Address, Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP
0935Keynote Speaker: Mike Quigley, Chief Executive Officer of NBN Co.
1000International Keynote Speaker: Jeffrey Cole, Director USC Annenberg School
1030Morning Tea
Plenary Session
1100Opening Remarks: Session Chair - Senator Kate Lundy, Senator for the Australian Capital Territory
1105International Keynote Speaker: Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft
1110International Keynote Speaker: Vinton G Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
David King, YouTube Product Manager, Google
1130Keynote Speaker: Samantha Hannah-Rankin, Manager Corporate Development, Australia Post
1150Keynote Speaker: Dr Nick Gruen, Chair, Government Web2.0 Taskforce
1210Keynote Speaker: Brad Wearn, CIO, BHP Billiton Iron Ore
1230Q&A Session with speakers
1240Lunch Break
Stream Session 1 What are the possibilities
1340Stream 1 Smart Infrastructure
Facilitator - Alan Smart, Senior Consultant/Marketing Director, ACIL Tasman
Panelist 1 - Tristram Carfrae, Arup Fellow & Deputy Chair, Global Buildings Board
Panelist 2 - Geof Heydon, Director, Market Development & Digital Economies, Alcatel-Lucent
Panelist 3 - Chris Althaus, CEO, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association

Stream 2 e-Health
Facilitator - Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, Visiting Fellow, GP Melbourne's West; Head of Clinical Unit - NEHTA; Former AMA President & Commissioner NHHRC
Panelist 1 - Gary Cohen, CEO, iSOFT
Panelist 2 - Adam Powick, Deloitte Partner, Technology
Panelist 3 - Glen Boreham, Managing Director, IBM Australia

Stream 3 Digital Education
Facilitator - Greg Moo, CIO, Department of Education and Training, Northern Territory
Panelist 1 - Craig Foster, Education Director, Microsoft Australia
Panelist 2 - Andrew Skewes, Executive Director, Bendigo Campus, LaTrobe University
Panelist 3 - David O'Hagan, CIO, The Learning Place, Education Queensland

Stream 4 e-Business
Facilitator - Deena Shiff, Group Managing Director, Telstra Business
Panelist 1 - Lisa Colley, Centre Director, Creative Industries Innovation Centre
Panelist 2 - Robert Murray, CEO, Firemint
Panelist 3 - Darren Alexander, CEO, AuTech

Stream 5 e-Community
Facilitator - Jan Fullerton, CEO, National Library of Australia
Panelist 1 - Geoff Anson, Chairman and Co-founder, One Laptop per Child
Panelist 2 - Lisa Harvey, CEO, Energetica
Panelist 3 - Richard Kimber, CEO, Friendster
1530Afternoon Tea
Stream Session 2 Reality Check
1600Stream 1 Smart Infrastructure
Facilitator - Dr Alex Zelinsky, Director, ICT Centre, CSIRO
Panelist 1 - Ross Carter, Division Head, Department of Environment, Water Heritage and the Arts
Panelist 2 - Prof Rod Tucker, Director, Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES)
Panelist 3 - Denis McGee, GM Infrastructure and Security Services, NAB

Stream 2 e-Health
Facilitator - Carol Bennett, Executive Director, Consumers Health Forum
Panelist 1 - Dr Chris Pearce, GP and Researcher
Panelist 2 - Prof Michael Georgeff, CEO, Precedence Health Care
Panelist 3 - Prof Branko Celler, Director, TeleMedCare

Stream 3 Digital Education
Facilitator - Prof Catherine Beavis, Professor of Education, School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University
Panelist 1 - Anne-Marie Lansdown, Division Head, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
Panelist 2 - Raju Varanasi, GM, Centre for Learning Innovation, NSW Department of Education and Training
Panelist 3 - Heather Watson, Director, The Learning Federation

Stream 4 e-Business
Facilitator - John Grant, Managing Director, Data#3
Panelist 1 - Jim McKerlie, CEO, Bullseye Group
Panelist 2 - Daniel Petre, Executive Chairman, netus
Panelist 3 - Chris Rodwell, Director Innovation and Queensland Director of the Australian Industry Group

Stream 5 e-Community
Facilitator - Kerry Graham, CEO, Australia Social Inclusion Board
Panelist 1 - Frank McGuire, Founder Global Learning Village
Panelist 2 - Denis Moriarty, COO, Our Community
Panelist 3 - Allan Asher, CEO, Australian Communications Consumers Action Network
Conference Program Day 2 - Friday 11 December 2009
Plenary Session
0900Day 2 Opening Remarks: Forum Co-chair - Dr Paul Twomey,
Senior President of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers
0905International Keynote Speaker: Dr Larry Smarr,
Founding Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology
0910Keynote Speaker: Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy,
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
0930Keynote Speaker: Abigail E. Thomas,
Head, Strategic Innovation & Development, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
0950Keynote Speaker: Stuart Tucker, GM Marketing Aussie Home Loans & Iain McDonald, Director, Amnesia
1020Morning Tea
1040Keynote Speaker: David Bartlett, Premier of Tasmania, Australia
1100Keynote Speaker: Jane Bennett, CEO, Ashgrove Cheese
Stream Session 3 Next Steps
1120Stream 1 Smart Infrastructure
Facilitator - Prof Stuart White, Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures
Panelist 1 - Dr Brian Boyle, Director, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
Panelist 2 - Kevin Bloch, CTO, Cisco Australia
Panelist 3 - Brendan Morling, Division Head, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

Stream 2 e-Health
Facilitator - Prof Michael Legg, Chair, Health Informatics Society of Australia
Panelist 1 - Prof Rob Evans, Victoria Research Laboratory Director, National ICT Australia
Panelist 2 - Rosemary Huxtable, Ag Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Ageing
Panelist 3 - Nigel Milan, National Chief Executive Officer, Royal Flying Doctor Service

Stream 3 Digital Education
Facilitator - Dr Stephen Winn, Senior Lecturer, Special Education/Educational Psychology, UNE
Panelist 1 - Dr Evan Arthur, Group Manager, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Panelist 2 - Tom Cochrane, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Technology, Information and Learning Support, Queensland University of Technology
Panelist 3 - Stephen Wilson, CIO, NSW Department of Education and Training

Stream 4 e-Business
Facilitator - Dr Bronte Adams, Principal, Dandolo Partners Pty Ltd
Panelist 1 - Mike Sibley, GM Online e-Business Services, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
Panelist 2 - Maha Krishnapillai, Director of Government and Corporate Affairs, Optus
Panelist 3 - Tim Harcourt, Chief Economist, Austrade

Stream 5 e-Community
Facilitator - Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service
Panelist 1 - Brad Wynter, Manager Organisation Support, Whittlesea City Council
Panelist 2 - Omar Khalifa, Managing Director, Livewire
Panelist 3 - Barry Sandison, Group Manager, Families Group, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
1300Lunch Break
Plenary Session
1400Dr Paul Twomey - Overview of Final Plenary Session
1405Stream 1 Smart Infrastructure
Lead Editor - Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia
1425Stream 2 e-Health
Lead Editor - Peter Fleming, CEO, National E-Health Transition Authority
1445Stream 3 Digital Education
Lead Editor - Bruce Dixon, President, Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation
1505Stream 4 e-Business
Lead Editor - Dr Bruce McCabe, Director, Technology Innovation, KPMG
1525Afternoon Tea
1555Stream 5 e-Community
Lead Editor - Genevieve Bell, Director, User Experience, Intel
1615Closing Remarks
Senator, the Hon. Stephen Conroy,
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
1630Conference Close

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Problems with Print on Demand Books

I am planning to launch my book "Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions" at "Realising Our Broadband Future" in Sydney next week. But I have had some problems making the book available.

The book was available on the LuLu.com print on demand catalogue (Paperback and e-Book) and some had been sold. But then I requested LuLu add the "GlobalReach", which distributes the book via Amazon.com and conventional bookstores. Instead of the book being more widely available, it disappeared from the LuLu catalog. After getting no response to LuLu support I decided to try and fix it myself.

I "revised" the book, going back to the first step in the online publication process in the hope this would un-stick it. I then went through each step. When I got to the design of the cover artwork I noted an error message warning that the text would not fit on the cover. I reduced the font size and was then able to publish the book on the web site.

My dilemma now is: dare I request "GlobalReach" again, before the launch in Sydney next week? It may well be the problem had nothing to do with this and all will be well. But it may be that if I press "approve" the book will not be available, just as it is being officially launched.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Realising Our Broadband Future

The Australian Government is hosting "Realising Our Broadband Future" in Sydney, 10-11 December 2009. Speakers include Mike Quigley (NBN Co), Vinton Cerf (Google), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation), Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Kate Lundy (Australian Government) and David Bartlett (Tasmanian Government). The event is free and anyone can register to attend.

The event has five streams, each with a "lead editor":
  1. Smart Infrastructure: Alan Noble (Google)
  2. Digital Education: Bruce Dixon (Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation)
  3. e-Community: Genevieve Bell (Intel)
  4. e-Health: Peter Fleming (National E-Health Transition Authority)
  5. e-Business: Bruce McCabe (KPMG)
The Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network questions how far the NBN will extend into regional areas and if there are measures to assess the performance of the NBN . Hopefully this will be addressed at the event.

I will be attended the Digital Education stream of the event> In hope to be able to tell delegates about my Green Technology Strategies e-learning course which is now offered to postgraduates students of eight Australian universities and to launch the companion book of course notes.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

National Broadband Network Senate Report

Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network has been released. The report questions how far it will extend into regional areas and if there are measures to assess the performance of the NBN . The report is available as a set of web pages and PDF files chapter by chapter and as one reasonably sized PDF file (701KB).

The committee was dominated by opposition Senators, but even so is relatively mild in its criticism of the NBN. There are dissenting reports by the Government Senators and The Greens. The Government Senators concentrate on pointing out how good an NBN would be for the nation and the Greens on how previous government decisions on Telstra have limited current choices.

The issue of coverage in regional areas is an unsolved problem. There is no proven technology which can deliver the same speed in regional areas as in cities at an affordable price.

The Australian Government is hosting "Realising Our Broadband Future", 10-11 December 2009, with Mike Quigley (NBN Co), Vinton Cerf (Google), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation), Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Kate Lundy (Australian Government) and David Bartlett (Tasmanian Government). No doubt issues of regional access will be discussed.

Conclusion 1

2.26 The committee is of the opinion that, in order to prevent a difference of measurement modelling, similar to that which occurred with the assessment of the OPEL bid, possibly resulting in a consequential delay to the NBN implementation, it would be beneficial for all stakeholders to know which modelling the department will use to assess the coverage footprint.

2.38 It is the committee's view that it would be an extremely unsatisfactory result for the NBN, such a significant government investment, which has been contributed to by all Australian taxpayers, to reach only a small percentage of a state's geographical area while leaving a very high proportion of rural and remote citizens without access to the NBN.

Conclusion 2

2.42 At the time of this report going to print, neither the department nor the Australian Government had provided any guidance or further clarification of the composition of the 98 per cent NBN coverage footprint. The committee believes that the government needs to provide this clarification to proponents and stakeholders alike to ensure a level of confidence that the significant $4.7 billion funding will benefit in particular those Australians that are already underserved or unserved. Particular attention is required to address the needs of those remote areas that are currently generating a large percentage of Australia's wealth yet are in the most underserviced areas.

Conclusion 3

2.73 The committee believes that submissions received and evidence taken to date strongly support the need for the term 'open access arrangements' to be more clearly defined. The committee calls on the government to provide a clarification of this term, which is critical to encouraging ongoing competition in the industry. This would ensure that there is no potential for a successful bidder to interpret the term to its own competitive advantage.

2.109 The committee acknowledges concerns of affordability and service provision, which have the potential to impact on the long-term sustainability of the NBN operator in providing a viable return of investment.

Conclusion 4

2.127 The committee questions the appropriateness of the timeline for the evaluation of the RFP, believing it will not permit the necessary level of scrutiny by either the Expert Panel or the ACCC to select the successful proponent for the NBN.

Chapter 3

3.48 The committee considers that the government should have provided a regulatory framework within the RFP; this would have provided proponents with greater certainty in building their business case for the NBN, while also providing a legal framework for the assessment of proposals.

Conclusion 5

3.56 The committee concludes that omitting to specify the structure of the new network has caused confusion and uncertainty among potential bidders and industry stakeholders.

3.88 The committee supports the general consensus that any new regulations that underpin the NBN should ensure that any operator/owner of the new network cannot participate in anti-competitive behaviour.

3.112 The committee encourages the government to effectively utilises this historic opportunity for regulatory change.

Conclusion 6

3.124 The committee believes that it is in the interest of the government, the industry and the Australian people to ensure that delays to the timeframe for implementation of the NBN are kept to a minimum. Notwithstanding this, the committee considers that the government should incorporate appropriate and timely opportunities for consultation with the industry on suggested regulatory changes.

Conclusion 7

3.125 The committee also believes that the government could easily remove several avenues of possible legal challenge by incorporating industry consultation into the process, even at this late stage.

Chapter 4

Conclusion 8

4.55 The committee believes that the requirement in the RFP for the NBN design to be based on a FTTN or FTTP platform should be broadened to enable a greater level of technology convergence where this is more appropriate than fibre.

Conclusion 9

4.76 The committee acknowledges the complexity of the deployment of the NBN. However, the committee concludes that the most effective use of this substantial expenditure would be to ensure that those Australian homes and businesses that are currently most disadvantaged should be prioritised for initial deployment of the NBN. That is, areas that are currently underserved or unserved should have broadband deployed first, with infrastructure subsequently rolled-IN towards the cities from those underserved areas, which are generally in regional, rural and remote communities.

Conclusion 10

4.77 The committee concludes that the best model for planning the deployment schedule would incorporate high levels of coordination and ongoing involvement by local and state governments with the Commonwealth Government. This would also provide assurance of support through appropriate regulatory changes within each tier of government.

Conclusion 11

4.78 The committee also concludes that there needs to be a carefully considered transition plan to migrate both existing service providers and their customers to the new network over the five year period specified in the RFP. The aim of this transition would be to ensure that it occurs seamlessly, with a no disadvantage test over the five years and that it minimises the issue of stranded assets and stranded customers.

From: List of Committee Comments and Conclusions, Chapter 2, Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, 26 November 2009 (officially dated for release 2 December 2008).

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Birth of the National Broadband Network

Greetings from Canberra, where Professor Reg Coutts, a member of the Government’s Broadband Panel of Experts is talking on "The National Broadband Network: New Ways of Working" to the ACS. I have been at the same venue since 12:30pm on at the ATUG "Focus Forum on 2009 Telecommunications Reform Package" presenting on the "Perspectives on the Telecommunications Reform Package".

Reg is recounting about how the government made a "courageous decision" to implement the NBN with FTTP, rather than FTTN. The Broadband Panel of Experts went beyond its brief and rather than selecting a broadband provider, recommended a new network strategy. The previous government proposed a wireless strategy for regional areas, which was rejected by the new government.

Tasmania is taking a "Tasmanian solution" with green and brown field implementation. Tasmania has the lowest current Internet penetration, lowest income and oldest population.

Reg commented that the government is not doing anything to address broadband to the 10% of the population in beyond where the fibre network will reach. This applies not just to regional areas, but to some areas of capital cites, such as Adelaide (the government is funding WiMax).

Reg joked that to solve the problem of pair gain on Telstra lines consumers should order an ISDN line. Telstra will then wire a direct, good quality copper cable to your premises. Then cancel ISDN and use the line for ADSL.

The report of the expert panel is still confidential but an "Extract from the Evaluation Report for the Request for Proposals to Roll-out and Operate a National Broadband Network for Australia" was published. Reg commented that it took the media some days to notice this and its implications (I have appended the text of the report to make it easier to find).

Reg recommended the Communications Alliance NBN Discussion Paper (14 May 2009). He commented that due to AUSSAT, satellite service sin Australia have a poor reputation. However, new technology used in other countries provide a flexible and popular service. He claimed that problems of latency with satellites could be overcome. He argued that satellite should be part of the NBN.

Reg mentioned the role of wireless, with WiMax, HSPDA (3G). Possible LTE, using old analogue TV spectrum (700MHz) for fixed wireless. This would use 2.6GHz for short range and 700MHz for long range. Reg argued that this could be a useful separate competitive alternative to the NBN and wireless should not be part of the NBN.

Reg argues that the NBN should be structures as a network, not links. There should be 25 equivalent POIs, with a cross-subsidy to provide the same network charges nation wide.

Reg mentioned the AFACT v iiNet court case currently under way. He commented that while media content owners are complaining about their content on the Internet, other arms of the same companies are keen to distribute content online.
    1. Background

On 7 December 2007, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, (the Minister) announced that the Commonwealth Government (Commonwealth) was committed to building a national high-speed broadband fibre-to-the-node network, and that it would run an open and transparent process to determine who would build the network.

On 11 March 2008, the Minister announced the appointment of a Panel of Experts to assess the Proposals received in response to the Request for Proposals (RFP), to be released at a later date. The Panel of Experts comprises:

    • Ms Patricia Scott (Chair)
    • Mr John Wylie AM
    • Mr Tony Shaw PSM
    • Dr Ken Henry AC
    • Mr Tony Mitchell
    • Professor Reg Coutts
    • Professor Rod Tucker

On 11 April 2008, the Commonwealth released an RFP seeking Proposals to roll-out and operate a National Broadband Network (NBN) in a single stage process. To facilitate the roll out, the Commonwealth indicated it would offer up to $4.7b to the successful Proponent(s), and consider making necessary regulatory and legislative changes.

On 26 November 2008, the Commonwealth received Proposals from six pre-qualified Proponents:

    • Acacia Australia Pty Ltd
    • Axia Netmedia Corporation
    • Optus Network Investments Pty Ltd
    • the Crown in the Right of Tasmania
    • Telstra Corporation Ltd
    • TransACT Capital Communications Pty Ltd

On 13 December 2008, the Panel met and considered the future of the Telstra Proposal in the NBN RFP process. The Panel considered legal and probity advice and Telstra's response to the notification of the Panel's preliminary view on the matter and concluded that Telstra had failed to submit a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Plan as required under the RFP.

On this basis, the Panel and the Commonwealth concluded that the Telstra Proposal had not met the conditions of participation for the RFP and Telstra's Proposal was excluded from further consideration in the RFP process.

    1. Observations
  1. Since the Panel was appointed in March 2008, and the RFP issued in April 2008, the environment surrounding the process to select a Proponent to roll out and operate a NBN for Australia has changed dramatically.
  2. There has been a once-in-75-year deterioration in capital markets that has severely restricted access to debt and equity funding. As a result all national proponents have either found it very difficult to raise the capital necessary to fund an NBN roll-out without recourse to substantial support from the Commonwealth or have withheld going to the market until they have certainty that their Proposal is acceptable to the Commonwealth.
  3. All Proposals were to some extent underdeveloped. No Proposal, for example, provided a fully developed project plan. None of the national Proposals was sufficiently well developed to present a value-for-money outcome.
  4. While no Proposal submitted a business case that supports the roll-out in five years of an NBN to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses with a Government contribution of $4.7b, each Proposal contained attractive elements that, taken together, could form the basis from which a desirable outcome might be achieved.
  5. The Proposals received through the RFP process, the public submissions received on regulatory issues and the report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have been highly instructive. They provide a good evidence base for the Government as it moves forward.
  6. The Proposals confirm there are multiple approaches to delivering high-speed broadband and that, with the right technology mix and incentives to create sound business cases being developed, the goal of providing high-speed broadband services to 98 per cent of homes and businesses can be reached.
  7. In particular, the Proposals have demonstrated that the most appropriate, cost effective and efficient way to provide high-speed broadband services to the most remote 10 per cent of Australian homes and businesses is likely to be a combination of next generation wireless technology (supported by appropriate spectrum) and third generation satellites.
  8. The Proposals have also demonstrated that rolling out a single fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network is:
      • unlikely to provide an efficient upgrade path to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), because of the high costs of equipment associated with rolling out a FTTN network that would not be required for a FTTP network (i.e. FTTN is not a pre-requisite for the provision of FTTP); and
      • likely to require exclusive or near-exclusive access to Telstra's existing copper sub-loop customer access network (CAN), the so called 'last mile', thereby confirming that strong equivalence of access arrangements would be essential. As well, providing such access to a party other than Telstra runs a risk of liability to pay compensation to Telstra. The Proposals have this risk remaining with the Commonwealth but they have not addressed the potential cost to the Commonwealth of any such compensation. In any event, the Panel considers that no Proponent could accept the cost risk and continue to have a viable business case.
  9. The Panel's analysis of the Proposals has highlighted the importance of competition and not just technology to drive improvements in services; the need to improve competition in backhaul supply, particularly in regional areas; the desirability for a wholesale-only provider of any bottleneck infrastructure; and the desirability of improved regulation of the telecommunications industry to provide investor certainty and speed of outcomes. The Panel was not attracted to what it saw in some cases as proposals for excessive overbuild protections. Focusing on using next-generation technology solutions may reduce the need for such protection.
  10. The Panel can see a way forward to achieve the outcomes sought by the Government and has provided that advice in confidence to the Government because of the commercial sensitivities arising.

From: Extract from the Evaluation Report for the Request for Proposals to Roll-out and Operate a National Broadband Network for Australia, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy,20 January 2009

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, September 18, 2009

National Broadband Network: What is it for?

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have released a useful report: "National Broadband Network - A user's perspective" (16/09/2009). This asks the timely question as to what the NBN will do for consumers, so that they will be willing to pay for it. The report is 32 pages of PDF, but because of the use of large unnecessary images, it is more than 1 Mbyte: you may need broadband just to download it. ;-)

The report is asking the question "What will consumers want to use the NBN for?" which has a very simple answer: "Its the Internet, stupid". The real question is not what consumers will use the NBN for, but how will those industries it will challenge, particularly fixed line telephony, broadcast and pay TV, cope with the competition.

The report considers applications such as smart metering, which are not relevant to the NBN. Smart metering only requires a very low bandwidth connection and can be done with low capacity wireless, data over power lines or old fashioned telephone lines; it does not need fibre to the premises. Similarly discussion of automation of lighting, air conditioning and home security networks are not relevant to the NBN, as these applications do not need broadband and have little value for consumers in any case.

The report suffers from the assumption that the NBN will be built in the way the Government described in its initial announcement, that is as a new completely standalone, pure fibre optic network. This is unlikely to actually occur. The NBN will be assembled from existing networks, using existing fibre backbones, ADSL2+ and wireless Internet, where appropriate. This is partly a matter of engineering, as there is no point in duplicating existing working infrastructure and in some cases there will be no feasible alternative.

Also where the new NBN infrastructure is built will be a matter of economics and consumer demand. There is no point in building an expensive fibre network where there not enough customers to use, and pay for, it. In practice fibre to the home will be first installed in new suburbs and new cluster housing. It will not be feasible to retrofit most existing homes with fibre in the short term. ADSL2+ will remain the most common common for most homes of the next decade. This will be supplemented with wireless Internet.

There are some very obvious uses for the new network, where have not been highlighted by the government in their advocacy for the new system: to replace copper cable telephony and pay TV. These are far from the applications in education and medicine mentioned by the NBN advocates, but telephony and TV will provide the bulk of the revenue from the system and the bulk of the use.

These old applications create new regulatory and industry challenges. The provision of digital TV in Australia was, and still is, crippled by a regulatory regime designed to favour a few TV broadcasters. The NBN would provide the opportunity to open up digital TV to a world of content. However this will make the delivery systems of the existing Pay TV, and well as the free to air TV broadcasters, obsolete and challenge their revenue. The government will be under pressure to put in place restrictions on the use of the NBN for TV, which will then cripple its widespread use.

Similarly there are difficult issues with the provision of telephony over the NBN. Engineering and economics would suggest the NBN should replaced copper based telephone lines. However, this then will remove the need for telephone companies. Apart from threatening the business of the current Australian companies, this creates difficult issues about the provision of reliable telephone services.

Here is the text of the Executive summary of the report, minus the images:
The Federal Government’s 7 April 2009 decision to build a $43 billion national broadband network (NBN) signals the advent of a new digital era in Australia.

The NBN, created and run as a wholesale only, open-access network by the government-owned NBN Company, will operate independently of existing copper-based broadband such as ADSL2+ or legacy cable broadband networks, but may draw on some existing infrastructure in this space.

The single largest investment by any Australian government, the NBN will play a critical role in advancing key national indicators including GDP, employment and productivity.

Deloitte believes the NBN has the potential to rival the impact of other technology milestones such as the widespread adoption of personal computers in the 1980s and the mass market adoption of mobile phones during the 1990s and 2000s.

While the results of the proposed NBN implementation study will not be known until early 2010, the NBN’s future impact can already be anticipated. The proposed implementation study will need to identify what impact the NBN will have on specific industries and businesses to properly consider the likely drivers of end-user demand such as design, pricing, return on investment and funding issues.

It will need to consider uptake in the consumer market and the drivers for this.

Until now, not enough attention has been given to these likely end-user demands and key NBN stakeholders must incorporate these elements into the network design in order to achieve operational success.

Now is the time to shift from the technical discussion to the applications and innovations that are really going to transform Australia and the way we live and operate.

This report, by Deloitte’s Technology, Media & telecommunications industry team, highlights many of the likely end-user demands that should be factored into the design of the NBN.

For consumers and small-to-medium businesses (SMEs), a 100 megabit per second fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network will usher in a new era of digital products and services. Businesses and governments will deliver more services through this network.

It forecasts the arrival of a world where high-speed broadband delivers new video content, security and utility applications directly to the home. Smart metering devices will record most household’s energy consumption in small units of time and facilitate new green-energy delivery options by national utilities.

At an even more transformational level, the NBN will unify the ability of households to deploy automation technologies such as lighting controls, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and home security networks. Widespread adoption of home automation technologies will give utility providers or telecommunications carriers the opportunity to consolidate billing services through a single provider
connected directly to the home via the new network.

Above all, it provides the opportunity to create a digitally-based country better connected both inside and outside Australia.

The NBN must also meet the demands of national objectives relating to emergency response and homeland security.

Environmental and social policy objectives will also influence the network solution, including ensuring the network extends to remote areas, fringe areas and offshore islands. In addition, the NBN must overachieve on environmental targets for energy efficiency, provide an effective basis for indigenous and SME empowerment, achieve world competitive cost levels and fuel the
export of electronic business services.

Deloitte has identified seven primary challenges that threaten the success of the NBN and the future applications and services expected to be delivered using this infrastructure:

• End-user retail packaging and migration
• Competition and regulation
• NBN Company funding and structuring
• Design and construction
• Support for innovation and delivery
of new applications
• Disruption due to the Federal Government election cycle
• Vertical and horizontal integration of private sector industries, and government departments and utilities.

These challenges are outlined in further
detail in this report. ...

National Broadband Network - A user's perspective, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 16 September 2009

Labels: , , , ,