Friday, 31 May 2013

NBN: Conroy responsible for maintaining the politicisation of the debate

The choice of Customer Access Network (CAN) technology and the means of its update are Technical, Commercial and Economic considerations. These are dry, rational discussions, based not on opinion, but hard facts and numbers. Bits are completely agnostic: they work no matter what network or connection they arrive over.

Instead, we have the mess that's the politicised NBN Argument of Ideologies. In no way is it a debate, but that could be changed somewhat by a single action: an independent review of the NBN Plans of both sides.

This politicisation only brings heat, not light, and doesn't help the electorate decide on facts, but forces them to take sides. This can only lead to a poor result, failed expectations and years of recriminations.

This craziness didn't happen for much more important issues: the switch-off of analogue TV, unleaded Petrol and change to Metric System. What's so special about replacing our communications infrastructure?

The Government, by not damping down this sideshow, is allowing a bad situation to become worse.
Very little is needed to take the wind from the Coalition arguments and deny the rabid trolls their oxygen:
  • hard data, credible numbers
  • independent, expert analysis of the strengths, weaknesses of designs and sound financial modelling of Project Risks, both upside and downside, of both major party plans.
    • And Apples-and-Apples costings, run for more than the life of the transitional VDSL/FTTN network.
Turnbull's policy modelling included stress-testing of the NBN Co plan. While I think that the figures chosen are unsupportable and selected only because they could produce a bad result, the approach & attempt is one of the best policy reactions by any Opposition I've seen in 40 years.

That's an important point: Turnbull must be lauded for adopting a thoughtful and credible response to the Governments' roll-out. Project stress-testing is exactly the right approach. Outrageously fiddling the numbers demeans and devalues the analysis in my eyes.

Senator Conroy as the Minister for Communications has the money and commercial-in-confidence data available to create an authoritative analysis of both policies. Useful models don't have to be finely detailed, only "good-enough", with, say, a 5-10% error. An informed, capable team should be able to prepare a useful report in 3-4 weeks, provided they are given access to the required data and esimates.

This is what I'd like to see done by independent experts given access to the data & estimates needed:
  • Turnbull's four stress-tests rerun with believable data and a stated probability level. (1 in 10 or 1 in 100)
  • Turnbull's Worst Case Scenario rerun with new data and its likelihood stated (1 in 100,000?).
  • The same, or appropriate, stress-tests run for a VDSL/FTTN network.
    • Including a detailed CapEx and OpEx breakdown until 2040, matching the NBN Co Corporate Plan.
    • The impact on Revenue of "single access rate charge", cherry-picking and "ACCC mandated highest wholesale charge".
  • Full Fibre and 70% FTTN models both run for the current NBN Co plan, with Download Volume growths of:
    • Current 30% pa
    • ABS's 50% pa
    • CISCO VNI 66% CAGR
    • And the current 44% 100Mbps with average 47GB/mth, not 30Gb/mth as the baseline.
    • Update for 1Gbps service. Unsure adoption rate to use.
    • Consumer Out-of-Pocket expenses needed for first "NBN Connection" point.
      • Line testing and remediation costs, if any, needed for VDSL.
      • VDSL+Telephony needs a Central Splitter
      • Standard 2*UNI-V, 4*UNI-D NTDs (Network Termination Devices) are not mentioned in the Coalition Plan, while they maintain "In-premises costs are not included". This needs clarification.
  • Under the 70% FTTN model, the break-even period built into the Coalition model and the conditions that might lead to the Copper CAN to be shutdown before this break-even period.
Experts in this field will come up with other, better, tests and modelling.

Also, Telstra need to issue an ASX statement clarifying Mr Turnbull's insistence "They will" in answer to "Why do you think Telstra agree to your proposal". If there have been back-room deals done, which I believe not to be the case, Telstra needs to inform the market.

Mr Conroy won't listen to me, I don't have recognised credentials in the area. Perhaps he'd respond to a petition or open-letter from a large group of Australian Telecomms Experts, including, say, Prof Reg Coutts from the original NBN Expert Panel.

Anyone out there able to put this to any Telecomms Experts?

NBN: Historical perspective on A Need for Speed

One of the quintessential NBN questions is "Why?", as in "Why do we need an NBN (at all)?" and "Why does the Government need to build it?". For anyone who's got a sense of the history of Computing and Information Technology, it seems obvious. The industry is still immature and developing at break-neck speed.

Anyone who claims future demand is limited, saying "nobody will need more than...", hasn't understood the past and the very many failures exactly this thinking has wrought.

The NBN was forced on the public sector because the private sector, specifically Optus and Telstra, failed to do anything for the last decade.

At home, I got my last speed upgrade 10 years ago. My first ISP connection was in 1995 by dial-up modem at 28.8kbps. Around every 2 years, I stepped up to the next speed available: 56kpbs (dialup), 512kbps, 1.5Mbps and then the limit of ADSL (3-5Mbps) for my 3.3km from the exchange on old & noisy copper. ADSL2, when it came, gave me nothing but grief and no speed benefit.

 I'm pretty much the median distance and in the majority urban situation: nothing but Telstra. Although I'm lucky, this year TransACT is being upgraded by its new owners, iiNet to better than 50Mbps. I might reconnect...

Here's a potted, and highly unreliable, History of Computing. It doesn't include Gaming or Games Consoles, which have driven consumer demand more than anything.
  • 1941: First electronic, programmable computer, Colossus, built to crack German codes.
  • 1951: First commercial computers available. Not transistor, but "vacuum tubes".
    • Cards and paper-tape first used for permanent storage.
    • Large Accounting and Inventory system most common uses.
    • Internal storage, RAM (Random Access Memory), is problematic.
  • 1961: First line of computers, IBM 360: transistors. 1956, IBM RAMAC, first disk drive.
    • Magnetic Tape arrives: fast and very large.
    • "Magnetic Core Memory" used as RAM. Faster than any CPU, caches not needed.
      • "Drum", not Disk, storage is both "Fast" & "large" (100M char)
      • Programs laid out by hand in "overlays", "swapped" to 'backing store'.
    • Banks and large Government Agencies 
    • In the 1968 the NATO Conference on Software Engineering notes "There are 10,000 computers in Europe".
  • 1971: Terminals, minicomputers with integrated circuits and semiconductor memory, Unix, C, IP networking.
    • All banks develop and depend on computer systems for back-office functions.
    • Most large businesses have embraced "Data Processing" for Accounting & Billing.
    • MOS transistors in chips start to replace Bi-Polar transistors (mid-price, mid-power, mid-speed) while highest speeds in Super-Computers are ECL (Emitter Coupler Logic) & very high power, hence very hot.
  • 1981: Microcomputers on desks: IBM PC, single-chip CPU's. Internet: e-mail, FTP, News.
    • Relational Databases and SQL takes over in back-office systems.
    • Motorola 68000 picked up by Macintosh, used in cheap Unix systems.
    • Low-power CMOS enters use for microprocessors.
      • High-power ECL use wanes.
    • CPU's become faster than RAM, larger & more complex caches needed.
    • Virtual Memory becomes standard on mini-computers as well as mainframes.
      • Microprocessors get VM with Motorola 68000 in Macintosh, later in PC's with Intel 486.
    • DRAM, Dynamic RAM, becomes the  norm for storage. Japan outs Intel as dominate supplier.
      • Capacities rise quickly, hitting a production block with 256K chips: no "fault-free" chips possible due to micro-defects & production variations.
  • 1991: Intel 486: First full computer-on-chip for PC's, Windows 3.1.1 with GUI and reliable networking. Ethernet LAN's, File Servers, RAID storage. IPv4 adopted (32-bit addresses).
    • 10Base-T, or 10Mbps Ethernet over Twisted Pair became ubiquitous for LANs in the early 1990's.
    • It was superseded by 100Base-T and 1000Base-T (gigabit) within 10 years.
    • The Web, HTTP and HTML, and first Browser & Web server created at CERN in 1989-1991, included in a hypertext conference in 1992.
    • Only Universities and large organisations were "on the Internet" until 1996 and the advent of ISPs (Internet Service Providers).
    • Large Organisations, Banking and Government, had fully digitised their back-office operations.
    • Medium Enterprises were investing in Unix, File Servers and other systems like the IBM System 3, 34 and later AS-400 for accounting.
    • Small format Gigabyte drives arrived in the mid-1990's.
    • CD-ROMs stored 650MB in 1991, compared to 30-100MB of PC disks.
    • Following record profits every year since 1965, IBM makes largest losses in US corporate history in 1992 and 1993. An outsider CEO is brought in and the company survives.
  • 2001: The Dot Boom investment bubble, with the Dot Bust financial collapse was intertwined with Y2K (the "Year 2000 Bug")
    • Critical enablers for portable players, digital cameras, smartphones, ultra-thin/small portables:
      • LCD displays and later OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes)
      • Flash Memory (Solid State Drives)
      • USB 2 (Universal Serial Bus, v2. 400Mbps)
      • Low-power 32-bit ARM CPU in Ghz and later 64-bit & multi-core versions
      • WiFi (802.11) LAN's and Bluetooth.
    • Single Processor CPU's hit "Heat-Wall" in 2003, end of first run of Moore's Law.
    • DRAM hits scaling limit in 2005, sizes and price/bit plateau, from 
      • Flash memory for SSD & memory/USB devices, continues to halve in price every year.
    • Windows 2000, later XP, creates a reliable PC platform.
    • Active Directory allows Enterprises to scale past 100,000 desktops & servers.
    • Al Gore promotes "broadband" (always-on, fast) in "The Information SuperHighway"
    • Home PC ownership was high and Internet access common and increasing.
    • Home ADSL broadband at 256kbps to 1.5Mbps increasingly common.
    • Jim Gray first observed in 2002 "Tape is Dead, Disk is the new Tape" on the rise of "Flash Memory" for storage, SSD's: Solidstate Storage Device.
    • Large Enterprises now were dependent on computers, networks and servers/mainframes for Front-office and Back-office functions.
    • Small businesses were increasingly using PC's for Accounting and running operations.
    • laptop sales overtook desk-based PC's around 2005.
    • International data traffic from Australia exceeds Telephony around 1998.
    • Google and Yahoo! are the up-start Internet companies
    • Microsoft is almost the most valuable company in the world and bigger than GM.
    • Virtual Machines popularised on Intel, first on servers, then Workstations, then Desktops/Laptops. VMware first major Intel/PC Vendor, Parallels for OS/X.
  • 2011: Smartphones, Tablets, Solidstate storage (disks and USB), low-power ARM CPU's dominate appliances. Email has replaced Faxes.
    • G3 & G4/LTE mobile phone networks with 50Mbps+ raw channel bandwidth
    • Massively parallel, high-power GPU's (Graphical Processing Units) become norm.
      • Real-time high-def, high-speed lifelike rendering becomes the norm.
      • CGI, Computer Generated Images, is commonplace in films, video and animation.
      • Gaming enters new "realistic view" era.
    • Heavy, large CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) replaced by thin, light LCD displays
      • very large format (30-inch+) and multiple displays become common
      • "retina displays" and 16:9 aspect ratios arrive in small & large formats.
    • Social Media, Twitter and Facebook, arrived in the early 2000's, they are not yet a decade old, but had been part of everyday life.
    • The iPhone arrived in 2007 and redefined the smartphone market, even though Microsoft and partners, like H-P, had been selling comparable Win-CE devices for nearly 10 years.
    • The iPad followed in 2010.
    • We're due for another Big Apple Idea in 2013.
    • Google released the Free Open Source Android operating system in 2008. The largest selling platform.
    • Global PC's sales decline around 2012, picking up speed on the way down.
    • DVD's and Bluray exist, but are largely replaced by USB memory sticks or
    • Low-end digital cameras are increasingly replaced by smartphones.
    • High-end Digital SLR's start to outperform 35mm film cameras.
    • HD movies and Television is increasingly filmed with DSLR's.
    • 2k and 4k digital cameras arrive.
    • IBM is still selling mainframes compatible with the 1962 IBM 360-series, more "instances" are running every year in VM's, though the number of Datacentres is in decline, hardware sales are strong and development continues apace.
    • Apple becomes world's most valuable company for a time.
By the end of 2010, the computing market had evolved and segmented into many niches. A non-exhaustive list:
  • Safety Critical control systems: Aviation, Medicine, Nuclear, ...
  • Supercomputer systems: CGI, GPU supercomputers: simulations & financial modelling, Massively Parallel Clusters for Research: Physics, Nuclear, Genomes, ...
  • Embedded devices: watches, fridges, washing machines, car systems (engine mgt/ignition, braking, ride, driver info,...), autonomous model aircraft & "First Person View" flying (real-time video feed to pilot), ...
  • Mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, media players, GPS's, ...
  • User Computing:
    • small low-power "ultra-books" & netbooks
    • laptops, ultra-thin to high-power desktop-replacements. Self-powered with batteries.
    • Desktop Computers (not to be confused with GUI Desktop). No batteries.
    • Workstations, high-performance single-user, multi-displays.
  • Server Computing
    • low-end (Department Servers, File & Print) in small & medium enterprises
    • High-Density Enterprise Servers, SMP Multi-processor,  "blades" and other servers
      • Virtual Machines are nearly ubiquitous in server rooms.
      • RAID has become "Storage Arrays" connected by SAN's (Storage Area Networks)
    • ISP's and web-hosting companies adopt 1RU and commodity servers
  • Cloud Computing:
    • Small and large scale vendors offer "computing in the cloud" and Software As A Service.
      • Multiple free Cloud Computing standards and toolkits arise.
    • Enterprises adopt VM vendor software for "Cloud" services.
    • Web-scale Datacentres for Amazon, Google, Facebook, Yahoo! arrived around 2005.
      • Amazon is only major vendor to resell infrastructure and opens its cloud software to clients.
      • use 10-30MW, up to 100,000 "servers" per datacentre.
      • run purpose built computing and networking hardware based on commodity chips as well as in-house systems software. 
Robert Solow, a Nobel-Prize winning Economist quipped in 1987 "Computers show up everywhere but in productivity statistics", meaning while PC's were everywhere in businesses, large and small, nobody could show their use was contributing to profitability or productivity.

Interestingly, the highest growth in productivity of the Australian economy was the 1990's, the decade of the office-PC, email and later Internet & web surfing. Nobody has proven a link, though the Productivity Commission came close around 2002/3.

Nicholas Carr in 2003, followed this theme with "I.T. Doesn't Matter", meaning computers & I.T. were no longer an advantage for companies.

Neither predicted the iPhone in 2007 and the massive impact on how we live our lives and communicate.

If you think that we've reached anywhere near the end of The Computer Revolution, looking at the history of computing should tell you "The only constant is change, Surprise is the Norm."

If you think like Solow and Carr that PC's and I.T. in general are mere fluff, frippery and a wasteful indulgence, try this Thought Experiment:
  • Try to live 7-days without any Internet connected devices.
    • No phones, no email and no Internet Banking.
    • For extra credit, no credit cards or ATM's.
  • Imagine for medium and large businesses and government, turning off the Internet.
    • How long could banking or government operate with Computers and Internet?
    • How quickly would they cease to function and send everyone home?
    • With only 1965 technology, what fraction of Government operations could be performed?
      • At what cost, with how many staff?
So while I can't give you a definitive research reference, each of us can reflect on their daily, personal experience and the impact of computing and Internet. While nobody can give you a figure for what the Internet is worth to the Australian economy, I've heard nobody argue that turning it off would be a positive.

Our modern lives are becoming increasingly dependent on, and run by, computing appliances, Internet and some mobile connectivity. There are no signs of the rate of change diminishing and the revolutions ceasing.

We are yet to see Apple make good on their promise to "reinvent Video", as they had done with iPod/iTunes for music, iPhones for computing and iPads for document management. Amazon's Kindle beat them to the electronic book market.

Netflix already accounts for one third of the nightime peak-hour Internet traffic in the USA. CISCO's VNI is predicting a 16 month doubling period for Internet video traffic (66% CAGR), or ~200 times in a decade.

From overseas experience, we know that IPTV and Internet Video is yet to start its real impact here, let alone fully play out.
Has anyone else noticed that 4K TV's are now appearing on the shelves for sale? There is no radio broadcast spectrum to support them, but right now, they can be fed, easily, over fixed-line Internet.

In 5-7 years, we can expect "Home Theatres" centred around 4K TV's connected to the Internet. The CISCO VNI prediction may turn out to be low for us. Australians have a long history of being enthusiastic early adopters of technology.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

NBN: Turnbull obfuscating and misleading on the detail

Mr Turnbull is reported in The Australian as saying that the current NBN Co connections are not free of charge to the subscriber/customer. [Source: CommsDay Crosstalk audio interview].

The opposite is true, but would you expect otherwise from spin-meisters? See my list of detailed questions and unacknowledged problems & charges with the Coalition VDSL/FTTN proposal.

NBN: Connecting VDSL to your home: Apples & Apples with Fibre or a "same-same" fudge?

George Fong on connecting GPON/FTTP NBN to your home made me wonder how different the process of connecting the Coalition VDSL/FTTN would be. I suspect there is some terrible "devil in the detail" for the Coalition.

For Fibre (GPON), you get 3 boxes supporting 2-voice + 4-Data , installed for no charge by NBN Co, the Coalition gives you nothing. The "no disruption" rule pushes large additional & untimately wasted costs onto householders :
An Apples-and-Apples comparison of the current FTTP NBN and the Coalition FTTN would include all costs for identical installs, yet the Coalition costings ignore these.

Headline questions for Messers Turnbull et al:
  • Will NBN Co offer a VDSL2 version of the standard 2-Voice+4-Data Network Termination Device (NTD) for customers that request it?
    • Who will be installing these?
    • Who will pay and how much, remembering this is included for Fibre, Wireless and Satellite users?
    • Will customers upgrading from VDSL2 modems and Central Splitters get a rebate on any previous out-of-pocket expenses?
  • Will NBN Co be certifying VDSL2 modems or will it be "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) as implied by Turnbull?
    • DIY installs are notoriously fault prone: how will NBN Co mitigate this problem?
    • Will NBN Co be able to remotely manage, administer and monitor all VDSL2 modems as they will do for all GPON, Wireless and Satellite NTD's? (And is necessary for modern, well-run networks)
  • Will NBN Co mandate the use of Central Splitters for VDSL2 mdoems?
    • If they don't, how will NBN Co manage line faults due to improperly connected or faulty in-line filters?
    • If NBN Co do mandate Central Splitters, who will install them, who will pay, how much will it be on average?
In private communications, Coalition experts have upbraided me over including the costs transferred to the householder by an FTTN. Their stance is "In premises costs have nothing to do with NBN project costs", with which I disagree.

My assertion is that there is a considerable additional cost for VDSL/FTTN users not incurred by GPON/FTTP users. This is deliberately deceptive and inequitable, especially as costs are both unavoidable and not advertised.

There's a lot of detail to walk through, and there are three stages to consider, before 'vectoring' is added,
which assumes all lines are VDSL and covered by the one vector processor. Will new VDSL modems be needed to maximise uplink speed for vectoring? Will new devices be needed for "vectoring"? If so, who will pay for the upgrade?

1. initial cutover: phone + ADSL not affected ('no disruption')
  • is there an "opt-out" clause?
  • what of other copper-line services (door openers, alarms: fire & security)?
  • phone only customers: What impact? What if not Telstra?
  • Telstra exchanges are replaced by node ATA's and "softswitches".
    • Will non-Telstra phone services be handled?
  • will the individual Phone provider "service codes" be preserved or all migrated to new codes?
  • what about 'message bank' and diversions? How will they be handled & moved?
2. transition to simple VDSL2 to get over 24Mbps.
  • Requires new modem/router [cf Adam Internet & 'the precinct' or TransACT] and new filters or 'central-splitter'. (30MHz vs 2.2MHz)
  • are (multiple) in-line filters recommended or available via retail stores for VDSL2?
    • will customers be forced to install "central splitters" for VDSL2?
  • BT in the UK are said to quote "4 hours" for average install of VDSL2 central splitter + modem
    • this is important as splitter is before network edge & must be installed by registered cabler
  • NBN is defined around remotely managed CPE (Customer Premises Equipment), that's a very important detail/design rule.
    • Will TR-069 (DSL remote management standard) be a requirement of NBN Co VDSL2 modems?
  • There are two modes DSL modems can connect to ISP/RSP networks, which will be used?
    • PPPoE, a tunnelling protocol (L3/IP encapsulated in L2 Ethernet or ATM packets) or
    • IPoE, direct IP packets onto ISP L2 network [provided by GPON NTD's]
  • Will customers be able to get IPoE devices if they desire it, or be stuck with lower-performance, single-service PPPoE?
    • Will these modems be approved/certified by ISP or NBN Co?
  • If customers can get IPoE, will they get single VLAN only or get multiple VLAN's?
    • I suspect this could be provided in a similar fashion to TransACT and Cable/HFC services:
      • an NBN supplied VDSL 'box' with 2 connectors: RJ-12 phone-line (Voice) + RJ-45 ethernet (data)
    • customer supplied modem/router/firewall with upline data interace (RJ-45/ethernet)
Stage 2 Questions:

  • Is there a 4-hour average install for central splitter & VDSL modem?
  • Who will organise this? Who will do install?
  • Who will pay for this?
    • Worst case is $250/hr + GST individual 'on-demand' install, paid by subscriber.

3. Transition to multiple RSP or in-premises ATA and voice over NBN. "Traffic Class 1" not "Traffic Class 4" (data) service. (TC-1 & TC-4)
  • This is akin to 'naked' ADSL service
  • I.e. will NBN Co supply 2-voice + 4-data Network Termination Devices (NTDs) for DSL/FTTN identical to GPON/FTTP and wireless NTDs?
  • Who will pay for the NTD and install of VDSL modem and removal of phone points, change of house wiring and removal of central splitter. [installed in 2nd stage]
  • Can customer skip straight to stage 3?
This leaves an important question open, showing, I believe, the decision is driven by a Political factors  ("no disruption") not good Engineering Design or Judgement:

  • How much is being wasted by pushing ATA's (Analogue Telephone Adaptors) into Nodes, making them identical to Telstra RIM's?
  • Wouldn't a pure-digital VDSL/FTTN design be cheaper, technically superior and more robust/reliable in operation? 

Stage 1: Initial Install:
  • After building approval installing foundation, ducts, node cabinet + line cards, fibre, power and tie-cables back to node patch panels:
    • what happens next?
    • there has to be line testing, or does there? Especially to determine is working filters/splitter is on-line.
    • Who does that?
    • Who pays for that?
    • This requires someone at the customer-end, why not get them in the home as well?
  • Who determines your service is "cost-effective" DSL or Fibre? Using what standard criteria/formula?
  • network line remediation:
    • what can get done? amount of service disruption that will happen.
  • Cutover to node:
    • what does it involve? [Many hours of labour at node, pillar and exchange/NBN Co node control?]
  • just when will the line back to the exchange get cut? [after you're all configured?]
    • Important detail for the large number of people served by ULLS.
  • For the "no disruption" claim to work, just what does your phone & ADSL get connected to in the node?
  • how does this new infrastructure get configured so you don't get impacted?
  • what happens to your ADSL modem/router so your ISP login credentials don't change?
  • What impact does cutting the cable have on your services if you are using a ULLS provider (phone or ADSL), such as provided by OPTUS, iiNet, PowerTel, TPG, BroadbandNext, et al.
  • What if you are connected via a non-Telstra ADSL2 DSLAM?
    • How does cutting the exchange line work?
  • What if you are a "naked" ADSL service with no PSTN service?
  • What now happens to your billing for ADSL and phone calls?
  • What 'plan' are you flipped on to?
  • What happens if you are with a small ISP that is either slow to move to NBN or will never move?
  • Do ISP's with ADSL2 DSLAM's get compensated for 100% write-off of asset?

What happens if your Node connection doesn't work properly? [think wiring error & cross-connection]

  • what's the fail-back procedure? [Is there one?]
  • how will anyone know there's a fault on your line?
  • Is it up to subscriber to report and follow through?
  • Will a NBN Co Tech test the line in your house?
    • By definition, can't be done remotely if service is faulty!
  • When would this be done? Would it only be triggered by a customer complaint?

The most common & pernicious mass-cabling fault is an "off-by-one". I had something like this done to me with OPTUS DSLAM... Couldn't get the fault recognised or corrected. More than 6 mths...

The white (common) wire of my pair is connected to your pair (on the right) and the white to the left of me is connected as my common. i.e. - take 2 cables/frame {A, B} with 3 services named {1, 2, 3} with
twisted paired wires {Col + White}. [My apologies. This would work much better with a diagram].
- A.1.Col <-> B.1.Col
- A.2.Col <-> B.2.Col
- A.3.Col <-> B.3.Col
- A.1.White <-> B.2.White
- A.2.White <-> B.3.White
- A.3.White <-> B.4.White

Depending on what services are connected and how the miswiring is done, different customers affected in a group will experience different faults.

  • What redress do residential or business customers have if their services are disrupted and fail to operate as advertised or at all?
  • How quickly will NBNCo, contractors or Telstra be required to fix service and what will be deemed "fixed"?
  • Currently ADSL service min level is 1.5Mbps. NO value on errors or noise.
    • What happens if there is high-power electrical devices/transmitters/radars that do bad things to your line? Just put up with it? or flip (for free?) to Fibre?
    • How does an ordinary subscriber even know or document this?
The current legislated Service Guarantee is only for telephony, NOT for broadband.
  • What legislative changes, if any, will be enacted for VDSL/FTTN service guarantees?

Effect on Businesses with multiple lines, ISDN or Digital copper-line links?

  • Effect on SHDSL customers, what option on Nodes? (No VDSL2 equivalent of Symmetric speeds.)
  • Will all business, in residences or not, be migrated for free to Fibre or billed?
    • at what rate?

  • Will wholesale pricing for FTTN and FTTP subscribers be identical?
  • FTTN is an inferior service, that should be reflected in price and options, otherwise how do ISP/RSP's differentiate plan pricing?

If there is a node problem or uplink congestion problem, what recourse do customers have?

  • What options will ISP/RSP's have with NBN Co about congestion & latency issues?
    • think 200 svc @ 25-100Mbps [5-25Gbps] sharing a single 1Gbps uplink...
    • Gungahlin RIM nightmare all over again.

VDSL 2 Install:
  • Will this be a two-device install like HFC or TransACT?
    • Telco supplied modem with phone-line in and ethernet out?
User supplied
  • Will the ISP/RSP be required to supply modems or will NBN Co have a certified list?
    • what about the T'bull "$50 VDSL modem" claim?
  • who will remotely control, monitor and manage the CPE VDSL modems?
  • Will Central Splitters be mandated?
    • who pays for the install? how much?
  • What about line-testing and remediation? Who pays? How initiated?
  • What will be the "Cost Effective" decision point for Fibre replacement?
  • will there be a subscriber fee?
  • Will these services be PPPoE or IPoE?
  • If IPoE and NBN Co modem, will VLAN's be an option?
  • will IPoE multicast be an option?
  • WIll IPv6 be available?
These details need to be addressed in a complete Coalition NBN proposal as they push substantial costs onto subscribers and inflate the Total Project Cost (NBN Co + Subscriber) by more than the $4 billion savings projected.

Stage 3: NTD Install:
  • will this even be available as an option?
  • who will pay for the device (NTD)? NBN Co or Customer? At retail prices?
  • removing the phone service from the copper line requires removing the ATA connection at the node and swapping services to the ATA within the NTD. Requires technician to change physical link.
  • who tests the line/service afterwards? Who pays for that?
  • Can the central splitter be removed and line improved for DSL-only use?
    • who pays? subscriber, ISP or NBN Co?
    • will this be a DIY install? [could be if the stage-2 was Telco supplied modem]
  • will battery backup be an NBN Co option for DSL-NTD?

Links and References
The internal NBN fibre equipment includes an NBN Connection Box, power supply unit and wall outlet.
User Guide with NTD photo pg 5.

NBN Co supplies: Premises Connection Device, Fibre Wall Outlet, Network Termination Device and Power Supply Unit; first battery; external cabling from the street network to the Premises Connection Device; and internal cabling up to the Network Termination Device. This equipment remains the property of NBN Co. NBN Co boundary of responsibility stops at the data (UNI-D) / voice (UNI-V) port. From there, the service on that port is the responsibility of Internode, if you choose to purchase an NBN service with us.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

NBN: (Dis)Economies of simplistic charging

The central problem for Telcos since the convergence of communications into All Digital is charging.
How do they differentiate products and charge different rates for identical bits on the same pipe?
In 1988, I first wrote/talked about the problem which in 1991 I phrased to a journalist as "an embarrassment of riches". With huge, cheap pipes available, how could a Telco construct a rate-card for both 32-64Kbps voice and 4Mbps video which didn't either make low-rate services "nearly free" or high-rate services unaffordable?

An artificially constructed rate-table, like expensive long-distance phone calls, will force consumers to find substitutes: users will spend money to access services with costs closer to the underlying cost-of-supply. In the 1990's, Australia became CISCO's global testing ground for Voice-over-IP because of Telstra's monopoly pricing of long-distance calls.

Telcos haven't appreciated this problem, nor found good solutions. The current NBN Co model offers 3 variations:

  • Traffic Class, (TC) or prioritisation and set Quality of Service (QoS).
    • Telephony traffic is high-priority "TC-1" while data is "best-efforts" TC-4, the default.
    • The other classes, TC-2 & TC-3
  • Differential pricing for (Fibre) Access speeds.
    • Users don't want 'speed' in itself, but they can signal their desire for, and the utility of, the service to them by paying more to have the spigot opened wider. NBN Co could just give everyone the highest available access rate, but then it loses product differentiation.
  • Volume charging via wholesale CVC (Connectivity Virtual Circuit) access rate.
    • This is the real revenue raiser and allows wholesalers to use a fraction of the raw access speed of a link at a Point of Interconnect.
  • There are a fourth & fifth variant that could be used for differentiation: multicast and IPv6.
    • It's uncertain what NBN Co will do with these.
The thing about these 3 variables is they are artificial, but of perceived value to customers. Customers get to choose what they pay: they signal with their wallets what's important to them

On top of this, NBN Co have modelled a conservative download growth rate (30%pa, not 50%-63%) and will only increase total charges by 5%/year (by dropping $$/GB by 19%). This per-unit price reduction applies to all traffic and will stimulate usage/demand through Price Elasticity of Demand. NBN Co don't have to be very smart to maximise profits and revenue (Total Revenue Test), something that neither Telstra nor the Coalition do or talk about.

Any producer that can charge many prices for the same product (Price Discrimination) will maximise its revenue because it minimises consumer surplus, when what a product costs a consumer is less than they are willing to pay. Additional price-points reduces the Deadweight Loss of the product, benefiting everyone.

This works at both ends of the market: at the high-end, there are a small number of consumers who will pay a lot for the service, at the low end, you can attract a large number of users at "budget" prices, whom you'll never get at the mid-point prices.

Why this works so well in Telecomms is because almost all the Average Total Cost (Fixed Costs + Variable Costs) are Fixed Costs: it costs milli-cents per hour for a telephone call, it's all but zero variable cost.

Think of current Telstra charges and the proposed Coalition VDSL/FTTN charging: a single price only. They are deliberately foregoing both the upper end (consumer surplus) and foregoing all the low-end consumers.

Not only does a highly differentiated charging model, like NBN Co's FTTP,  increase total revenue, and hence profitability, significantly, a side-effect is raising the ARPU (Avg. Revenue Per User), it allows very cheap entry-level services.

As every supermarket will tell you, "loss leaders" and discounts bring customers into your store and you increase total revenue. That's the same for Telcos: there is a strong positive correlation between per-customer revenue and time-on-service. People get "hooked" on the new services and become habituated to them and increase their willingness to pay.

Telstra and the Coalition's VDSL/FTTN proposal ignore economic fundamentals, behaving like old-school inefficient Monopolies leaving huge amounts "on the table" and not fostering and growing demand.

Monday, 27 May 2013

NBN: Noalition maths II

What do you get when you subtract $4 billion from $37.5 billion?
With Noalitionomics, you get $20.5 billion. This bodes well for the election promises and possible Budget.
Saving $450 per premise on 9M premises totals $4 billion. That's the maximum CapEx saving possible from the Coalition FTTN ($1350/premise for Fibre vs $900 for VDSL2/FTTN). There are additional costs in dialling back Fibre and swapping to an FTTN fully upgradable to Fibre.

And the small matter of high ($500-$1000) householder out-of-pockets expenses to install Central Splitter or a Network Termination Device (NTD) as in "Did you want a telephone with that?"

It could be they're swapping the missing $13 billion from CapEx to OpEx, but No!, their own figures say they'll also save 10-20% on accumulated OpEx by 2021.

[Update]: 02-Jul-2013. There is also the matter of accumulated operational losses, the difference between Capital Expenditure and whole Project Funding. Although the Coalition NBN Plan has them completing it much "sooner and cheaper" and they claim to be Cash-Flow Positive (Operational Surplus, not Loss) much earlier, they have 50% higher accumulated Operational Losses. How?
  • Coalition unverified estimates
    • CapEx: $20.5 billion
    • Peak Funding: $29.5 billion
      • Accumulated Operational Losses:
        • $9 billion, 50% higher than current NBN Co plan.
  • NBN Co 2012 Corporate Plan
    • CapEx: $37.4 billion
    • Dec 2020 Funding: $43.35 billion
      • Accumulated Operational Losses:
        • $6 billion
Bizarre... What am I missing that nobody else is calling this?

Saturday, 25 May 2013

NBN: Coalition Fibre to the Node isn't pure-digital broadband, isn't secure, isn't meant to last

Not only is the Coalition's Fibre to the Node (FTTN) plan to share two mutually-interfering networks, over existing copper, more complex and expensive that it need be, it also flags they aren't designing it for longevity. Implicit in this design choice is "we're building it to throw away, soon." i.e. with a 10-15 year, or less, economic life.

The network design can never be optimum for either phone or digital/broadband, the combination is more complex, expensive and lower reliability than pure-digital and is missing two critical network design element: it doesn't follow the existing NBN design (standard device interfaces, end-end control & L2 Bitstreams) but ignores that engineering designs can only be optimised to for one thing.
The Coalition's FTTN is not pure-digital broadband, but a hybrid analogue phone/digital broadband, just like the Telstra network's 8800 RIMs. "RIM"s, Remote Integrated Multiplexors, were designed as remote elements of telephone exchanges, initially dubbed Fibre-to-the-Kerb, in the early 1990's. ADSL was added slowly and with a lot of difficultly, ending with the current "Top Hat" conversions: a DSLAM bolted on top. Again a mini-phone exchange, full of complex, expensive compromises.

If the analogue-phone+broadband-on-shared-copper Node approach was good & efficient, Telstra and every other Telco/ISP would've already rolled it out extensively. That even Telstra, the largest FTTN operator in Australia, haven't seen a way to ramp up hybrid-shared-copper FTTN to wide-scale when their strategy in 1995 was to fully complete the transition by 2010, says it is deeply flawed in both Engineering and economic dimensions. The savings in line maintenance must be offset by additional complexity and cost. Telstra are very good at identifying savings and network/operational improvements.

When Telco engineers do pure-digital broadband over copper, they design them to carry Telephony digitally (VoIP: Voice over IP), not as analogue signals, a 100 year-old standard. There are multiple Australian examples:
  • OPTUS HFC Cable, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane [1995-7]
  • TransACT, Canberra, VDSL [2002]
  • Adam Internet, Adelaide CBD, 'The Precinct' [2010]
In Engineering Design there is an Ironclad rule: for something to be the best at what it does, it can be designed to only do one thing. Designs can only be optimised for single factors, whereas phone and broadband have diametrically opposed electrical characteristics and the service quality/capability of both must be compromised for them to work together at all.

There's another element of good Digital Network Design missing in the Coalition's FTTN: remote control, provisioning, management and monitoring of every network device, especially including the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE).

The Coalition isn't including a standard VDSL2 modem in its design. Turnbull, when quizzed on this, says, "Consumers can buy a $50 VDSL modem if they want". There is so much wrong with this (price, features, compatibility, certification, filter/splitter, install & line-test) that it needs to be dealt with separately.

Any competent Telco or Network Engineer will say that this "BYOD" (bring your own device) approach is "mad, bad and dangerous" for multiple reasons:
  • remote control, management, administration, diagnosis and monitoring is not possible.
    • This is central to efficient Telco operations these days.
  • DIY installs are notorious for being incorrectly, poorly or incompletely done.
    • This is exactly why only trained/certified technicians are allowed to work on the Telco side of any service.
    • The VDSL2 modem becomes the edge of the Telco network in the Coalition's FTTN, a fact they seem to overlook, but will have severe engineering & maintenance ramifications.
  • To be done properly, a Central Splitter needs to be installed in-home for every FTTN service.
    • Because the Telco, not premises, wiring has to be cut, this has to be done by a registered cabler, so any DIY advantage of BYOD is gone.
    • Done as an "on-demand" retail service, this will cost householder directly 10-100 times what NBN Co could do in a co-ordinated mass deployment. This is why after its trials, NBN Co elected to run Fibre to every premise in mass rollouts. "Do it right, Do it once".
The Coalition FTTN design also violates very strong design principles already at the heart of the NBN design, compromising the ability of NBN Co to efficiently and effectively run its own network:
All network devices look identical to RSP's & have identical capabilities, all connect identically at the Points of Interconnect (PoI's), all can be provisioned, managed & monitored remotely by NBN Co's central NOC (Network Operations Centre), all are secure and updatable/controlled only by NBN Co. Customers can never access the owner password of any network device on the NBN, only their own attached devices.
All the high-speed DSL work in labs is for pure-digital, not hybrid analogue phone+broadband. The necessary filters/splitters reduce high-frequency performance, increase noise, add multiple points-of-failure and provide a source of hard to trace "unforced errors". This includes compromising "Vectoring", the great white hope of Turnbull for reaching reasonable broadband speeds.

Broadband Network Operators interested in long term services, deploy pure-digital networks, not
hybrid analogue phone/broadband. These hybrids are "neither fish nor fowl". They aren't optimised for either analogue phone or digital services, nor can they be as they are opposites (DC+low-frequency AC, vs pure-AC high-frequency). They have all the problems of both and a brand new set of problems unique to making them work together. Their only justification is "sharing a single copper pair". In an age of very cheap VoIP chips and ATA's, the economic advantage for primitive filters/splitters has also dissolved.

Needless to say, the total cost of deployment, Network + Customer out-of-pocket costs, is much higher when all the extra work of cabling, patching and filters/splitters at both ends, is included.

This critique raises a question:
If hybrid analogue phone+broadband & BYOD is so flawed, why would the Coalition even suggest it?
Either they don't know better, they are slavishly following another design (e.g. UK's BT/Infinity), they are sacrificing durability and robustness to appear 'cheap' or for some political end.

We have to assume that Turnbull has recruited experts, even some competent in DSL & broadband. From his many public references, he is highly influenced by British Telecom's, as yet an incomplete experiment, though he likes to imply, or may even believe, it's a shining example of a working FTTN network. It definitely is far from that.

The Coalition made the NBN a political discussion in 2005, when Howard first rejected the best expert advice on the planet and ignored Sol Trujillo. It then backed this up with multiple sub-standard and unimplementable programs, such as OPEL. What ever happened to the billions from the Telstra sale promised for "broadband in the bush" to get Barnaby Joyce on-side? Country folk still live in a digital desert, 8 years after the T3 sale. We've got nothing to show for Barnaby's efforts.

In the 2007 and 2010 elections, the Coalition furthered this politicisation of basic broadband access with their costly, inadequate and unworkable policies. Unsurprisingly, this contributed to their failure to win those elections.

In 2013, the Coalition is continuing more than a decade of indifference and ineptitude in NBN policy.

The hybrid analogue telephone + digital service over single copper twisted pair FTTN solution proposed by the Coalition is nothing more than a "polished turd". It looks almost shiny, but is weak, smelly and nothing you'd personally want anything to do with.

This is a purely political design intended to seem "good enough" on brief inspection, but fails abysmally as good Engineering design at every level. The pity is that with a very small amount of effort, the cost could be lowered, the service improved and it brought up to acceptable engineering standards. It almost looks like they chose the worst design possible. Very, very strange.

The whole of this flawed design is driven by a single political objective:
Installation without disruption or technician visit, even though to get VDSL this is needed! This, very bizarrely, is to allow anybody with a 1925-compatible handset to not be affected by the rollout of a modern broadband network. Without exaggeration, this is as idiotic, imbecilic and perverse as insisting that only tyres suitable for ninety yaer-old Model-T Fords could be sold in Australia.
An NBN-design compatible FTTN would look like Adam Internet's VDSL2, but with a standard NBN Co Network Termination Device (NTD), not a commodity PPPoE modem. This does require, just like the FTTP, in-home work by technicians. It avoids installing filters/splitters at both ends, removes around two-thirds of the Node equipment (ATA's for phones are in the NTD) and allows technicians to optimise the copper pair for pure-digital broadband. And those 1925 rotary dial handsets will still work with the NBN Co NTD's. Cheaper, Better, Faster: what's not to like?

There is a very simple way to test my assertion about hybrid analogue/digital being an unacceptable engineering solution:
In Enterprise networks, or even those of SME's, do we ever see anyone sharing analogue phones and digital signals (ethernet) on the same copper cables? No, not ever.
There was a brief period in the early days of twisted-pair ethernet (1993/4 with 10Mbps & Cat 3/4 cabling) when a few people flirted with sharing the 4-pairs in their cabling between telephones and digital networks. Mixing 5 volt and 50 volt services was really bad news (users plugged things in the wrong way around and blew up expensive gear) and when 100Mbps came along needing all 4-pairs and Cat 5 cabling, all this silliness ended. Everyone installed office buildings with "structured cabling", RJ-45 patch panels and multiple RJ-45 outlets per desk.

These days, Enterprises are moving away completely from analogue telephony. They are replacing their PABX's, handsets and phone wiring with VoIP phones, soft-phones on computers and "soft-switches", all run over their pure-digital network. Both single campus ethernet and their Wide Area Networks: Enterprise telephony is moving to "just another service" carried on their pure-digital network. Telcos know this and know they need to follow. The Coalition FTTN design is antithetical to this goal, it puts us further away, not closer, to a pure-digital network.

There is a widely-used standard that uses standard Cat 5 ethernet cabling for two purposes: Power over Ethernet (PoE). It adds around 20V-DC onto standard 4-pair cable for 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet without endangering standard equipment or affecting ethernet performance. You can plug your PC or laptop in 100% safely. CISCO, the largest Enterprise & Telco/ISP networking vendor, invented this technology to remotely power it's VoIP handsets. Modern digital telephony doesn't include any analogue 50V signals, a fact that seems to have escaped the brilliant engineering brains responsible for the Coalition FTTN design.

This is much more than the Coalition shunting considerable hidden costs onto unsuspecting householders, this is deliberately choosing a flawed Engineering design whose total deployment costs will be higher than a good design, will be much more expensive to run and maintain, is designed to be insecure and will deliver a much inferior service over copper than is necessary.

The Coalition FTTN network is solely driven by political considerations at the cost of good Engineering design and sound economic. It could be worse, but I'm not sure how...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

NBN: Not just "there's good, cheap, fast: choose any two"

Paul Wallbank, a knowledgable and respected technology journalist, wrote recently on the NBN using the "pick any two" meme. There are exceptions to this Ironclad Rule of Project Management and my contention is the NBN is one of them. Paul wrote:
One of technology’s truisms is there are three factors to almost anything – speed of delivery, reliability and affordability (or cheap, good, quickly) – and you can choose any two. If you choose cheap then you have to be prepared to sacrifice either speed or reliability.

I throughly agree with Paul's following conclusion:
However, just fixating on the advertised speeds of both network proposals misses essential aspects of the debate and its uses in a connected economy and online society.

We need to choose carefully and make some informed decisions that accurately reflect the needs of todays and tomorrow’s internet users.
This Ironclad Rule, or perhaps only Rule of Thumb, presumes the design, technology, process and people/capability of competing approaches are identical or comparable. It's like comparing sports teams, some are better than others, either overall or in particular areas.

Background: These aren't Apples and Apples projects

The differences in the Coalition and ALP proposals for the NBN significantly affect their projects:
  • The majority services of the two plans, GPON/FTTP and DSL/FTTN, have radically different cost and performance structures:
    • Fibre has effectively unlimited upgrade capacity.
      • Allowing much more finely differentiated plans and reducing consumer surplus and markedly increasing profits over the assumed "single plan" of the FTTN.
      • Higher line speeds will radically increase consumption of high-end users, markedly increasing total usage/revenues & profits, driving down usage charges and stimulating download across all subscribers and encouraging up-selling.
    • While DSL/FTTN over copper is economically limited in Australia to 25-50Mbps.
    • Fibre components & transceivers are like computers and following Moore's Law. Both increasing rapidly in capability/speed/power efficiency, but also declining in price.
    • Signal processing hardware necessary for DSL/FTTN to increase speed is complex, expensive and very limited production volumes. Like "supercomputers" of old, it's a dead-end technology that can only get less cost-competitive.
    • The installation costs of Fibre are well-understood, though like any large construction project, this does not remove Project Risk. Whilst NBN Co has allocated a 10% contingency, unanticipated problems, especially with non-compliant or defaulting contractors already seen in the Northern Territory, with the major rollout phase yet to commence and ramp-up, this must be assessed as a "High Risk".
      • The budget & schedule impact on the ~6-year $10-15 billion mass fibre roll-out has the potential to force a 50%-75% over-run in cost. The project phase is highly parallel and additional resources/teams can be trained and deployed to keep the schedule.
    • The maintenance costs of the copper network to the much more stringent VDSL2 levels are uncertain and unknown.
      • The Coalition is completely silent on who will wear these extra charges.
      • Will NBN Co directly assume all maintenance costs for the copper Customer Access Network
    • The uncertainties in the DSL/FTTN rollout over copper are legion and severe:
      • Not only are there multiple "drop-deads" in this FTTN project, the Coalition has not discussed their risk, the downside cost, mitigation strategies, alternatives or 
      • Will the Telstra shareholders even agree to the change in plan? It's not a management, or even Board, decision to make.
        • Given Telstra has a history of driving very hard bargains and using dedicating large legal teams to major contracts, will the deal forced on the Coalition allow a DSL/FTTN to ever be profitable, let alone break-even?
      • Will VDSL2 at 30Mhz work on decades old 0.4mm copper at 800m even at 25Mbps?
      • What if the distance rule for nodes turns out to be 300m requiring 400,000 nodes, not 68,000 are required?
        • This scenario will also force a much higher rollout costs on NBN Co for whom the Coalition has said it will cap funding at around $30 billion.
      • What if 200-port nodes cost closer to $150,000 than $30,000 to install, test and cut-over?
      • Since 2005, Telstra FTTN plans have allocated a major fraction of the project to reconfiguration and remediation of the Copper Network. What if the copper network has degraded further than anyone expects?
        • When will the Coalition know this?
        • When will they pull they plug on the project if costs are astronomical?
      • By allowing competition and cherry-picking, what if mobile and fixed-line services from Telstra, Optus and other players undercut the NBN Co network in the low-cost, high-density urban areas, leaving NBN Co with a very low connection rate and the most costly customers?
        • NBN Co must plan to provide universal coverage.
        • We know from the both the 1994/6 Cable TV rollout and withholding ADSL2  that Telstra and Optus are highly aggressive players and will force competitors to make investments that become uneconomic and waste billions.
        • With the Coalitions' funding cap to NBN Co of around $30 billion, will they even be able to complete the FTTN before running out of cash?
      • If Telstra & Optus run NBN Co out of cash and steal all their subscribers, what happens to the public investment then? 
    • Demand growth and implied usage increase driven by new Applications or increase in uptake of services like IPTV.
      • NBN Co uses a conservative estimate of 30%/year compound annual growth rate (CAGR), or 32 month doubling period for demand.
      • More realistic estimates are 50% and 63% (ABS and CISCO VNI report).
    • Wholesale price model:
      • NBN Co will reduce wholesale download charges 19%/year for 30% growth, a 5.3%/year effective increase.
      • The Coalition models include a 1% increase above inflation in APU (Average Revenue Per User).  We don't know if this will be an instruction to NBN Co, a outcome of capped demand due to lower speeds or an estimate of traffic.
    • The Coalition has not supplied a public sector economic "Cost Benefit Analysis" (CBA) for DSL/FTTN, such as Henry Ergas' 2009 submission to Senate Broadband inquiry. After very stridently demanding CBA's from the ALP, this is not just ironic but a incontrovertible double-standard.
      • The Coalition in their Broadband plan implicitly recognise that they are building the DSL/FTTN to throw away. Otherwise, why do they mandate NBN Co must both provide on-demand Fibre upgrades and 
      • Whatever the bluster & noise the Coalition puts out, a copper Customer Access Network has a limited economic life in Australia, especially for broadband carriage.
      • In the Coalition modelling provided, two critical data points are deliberately omitted:
        • What is the economic break-even for the DSL/FTTN network?
        • When do they expect the copper Customer Access Network, for phone and broadband, will be shutdown?
        • No, this won't be "up to NBN". It's a central assumption in their modelling.
    In summary, Fibre leads to a virtuous circle of increasing demand, lower prices and higher usages, leading to higher profits: this is the economics that O.T.C. traded on skilfully for over 20 years.

    In contrast, an FTTN leads to a "death spiral" of high costs, under-cutting, users fleeing to substitutes in droves and plummeting revenues. Exactly what IBM experienced leading up to its near demise in 1991/2.

    Why the Ironclad Rule doesn't apply to NBN and FTTN vs FTTP 

    The differences in Capital and Operational Expenditure of a full Fibre network and a majority DSL/FTTN network are quite extreme, especially with market growth potential, availability of substitutes, nature and number of competitors, production economics and project risk factors and potential downsides.

    But the underlying project differences are the transmission technologies:

    • Right now, commodity Optical Fibre transmitters are 1Gbps and soon 10Gbps, with 40Gbps and 100Gbps in production. This isn't speculation or "shown in the Lab", it's current commercial volume production.
      • Whilst the proponents of digital-on-copper spruik Gigabit rates as possible, and 100Mbps as almost commercially available('vectoring'), these are untried technologies implemented with very complex, expensive signal-processing and based on the presumption of high-quality customer copper lines.
      •  The correct capability comparison of Fibre and DSL/copper is 1000:1. 100Gbps (high-end Fibre) versus 100Mbps DSL + 'vectoring'. Costs are not that dissimilar at the high-end.
      • The real cost comparison for Fibre and Copper is "same-same" or 50-100Mbps.
        • A VDSL2 line-card may be $75-$100 per end per port, but
        • Fibre transceivers for 100Mbps are in the $20-$50 range.
        • It's no contest on the technology at 100Mbps on cost, maintenance or link quality. Which is why the Coalition has to adamantly and vehemently insist that "nobody could need more than the speed of a donkey".
      • Cost & link quality comparisons at higher speeds, even the commodity line rate of 1Gbps are so skewed in favour of Fibre they aren't even worth contemplating.
    • Economic distances for low Australian housing densities are 400m-800m for digital transmission over copper. The copper is mostly thin, 0.4mm, radically limiting maximum raw rates. The only way a DSL/FTTN can be competitive is to use existing infrastructure and incur near zero additional labour costs. There are multiple additional operations that must be performed in rolling out a DSL/FTTN:
      • building nodes by the ten-thousand, with council approvals, electricity connection, dual fibre uplinks, cable trunks to pillars and multiple terminations millions of subscriber lines for both phone and broadband.
      • reconfiguring and rehabilitation, remediation or replacement of copper.
      • per-service line-testing, fault diagnosis and rectification.
        • Probably multiple times per line as more lines are cutover
      • Service identification, cut-over and consequential fault reporting and correction.
        • Because the exchange line is cut, the subscriber service must be made work, there is no fallback.
          •  This only happens in GPON/FTTP with "pull-throughs", where the lead-in is in such bad condition that the existing copper is used to pull-through the new fibre. But if this is done, a replacement copper lead-in could often be run as well.
        • With 9 million lines and 4-5 million active services, the fault rate on conversion/cut-over will be high: 10-20% at least.
        • Fixing these "own-goal" faults will be costly and time-consuming, particularly because the customer service will be inoperative and service fines will apply.
        • Expect the ACCC to insert itself in this area. 
    With all technologies, things change. A hundred years ago, horses were the mainstay for local transport and steam trains for long-distance and bulk haulage.

    In this milieu, Cobb and Co were the Telstra of their day. They were the largest, most profitable, vertically integrated service supplier around. Nobody could compete with them on reach, price, service availability or speed & punctuality. These were extraordinary businessmen running a phenomenal and efficient business.

    Within 25 years their business had collapsed.
    Like Microsoft post 2005, they had failed to move into new areas of demand and not just adopt, but fully embrace the new technologies.

    Sticking with a copper network, with limited capability, high install and maintenance costs and acute economic susceptibility to substitution from not one, but two, aggressive mobile (4G) network operators is as economically doomed as Cobb and Co not embracing

    Think of the radical changes in computing technology we've seen in just the last 10 years. This is the timeframe that we must judge a DSL/FTTN within - that is its longest economic life:

    • laptops, netbooks and games consoles (Wii, XBox, Playstation, ... [not  my area of expertise])
    • smart phones, tablets, ebook readers and "mobile devices"
    • 300Mbps Wifi
    • Ubiquitous USB and bluetooth connectivity and swarms of devices
    • GPS, compasses, inertial sensors in mobile devices
    • Cloud computing, commodity virtual machines and pay-per-hour compute services, such as Amazon AWS used by Netflix.
    • 3G and 4G data services, although shared medium, speeds comparable with cable TV
    • PVR's, multi-Terrabyte Hard disks and 100GB Solid State Disks (flash)
    • digital cameras (with video), iPods, $5-10 multi-GB flash memory cards/USB sticks
    • Digital TV (DVB-T) and satellite, 16:9 HD broadcast (1920x1080p),
    • Plasma then LCD large format screens, "Home Theatres",
    • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, picture & video services

    Individually, they are radical advances, together they are game changers, like the many variants of the motor-vehicle, in all aspects of our lives, businesses and economy.

    There is no sign that the rate of I.T. Innovation will slow, either for hardware, software or Internet services.

    In this environment, stating "This limited bandwidth is all anyone will ever need" is an extraordinary statement, as bizarre as the misquoted US Commissioner of Patents in 1898,  "Everything that can be invented has been invented".

    Carl Sagan posited "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".
    That test needs to be applied to the Coalition's seemingly blind-faith assertion that a DSL/FTTN will provide everything all broadband consumers could ever want.

    Instead of meekly accepting this outrageous claim, the electorate needs to be asking the Coalition for their extraordinary evidence to back their DSL/FTTN policy.

    NBN: Coalition Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Evidence

    In writing another piece, I realised that the Coalition in their NBN policy are actually making an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary proof, in backing an FTTN for the majority broadband network:
    25-50Mbps is more than anyone will ever want.

    Unpacking that statement there are two key concepts:
    • Not anyone will want more than FTTN offers.
      • The NBN Co activations, "the only poll that matters in business, customers hard cash", conclusively disprove this notion with 40% of people signing up for 100Mbps, forcing NBN Co to bring forward plans to offer 1000Mbps (1Gbps) services.
      • Already we have a significant fraction of the consumer market, let alone Small & Medium Business, that are very willing to pay for more bandwidth than an FTTN can ever deliver.
    • Nobody will ever want more than FTTN offers.
      • The same dataset also shows that when artificial limits are removed, Australian internet users consume 50% more download on the NBN, 47Gb/mth vs 30GB/mth (ABS).
      • This suggests that a compound annual growth rate, CAGR, of download volume for the NBN will be well above the 30%/year incorporated in the 2012 NBN Co plan, probably 50%, even 60%.
      • Is this trend continues, then by 2021, the NBN will be a River of Gold, testing the limits of an FTTN while the FTTP network runs flawlessly.
    Mr Turnbull will surely go down in history as "Mr Broadband" if he gets elected and implements this craziness, for the same reason that, while as Treasurer, Howard was ironically labelled "Honest John".

    Howards' ability to bend the truth and be selectively keeping promises is enshrined in his "non-core promise" doctrine.

    The Turnbull FTTN fails every rational analysis: technical, commercial, competitive, national economy and business enabling and demand growth. Even their claim of "lower CapEx" is questionable, based on the project risks and lack of comprehensive FTTN implementation plans, despite Australia being the most intensively studied nation for this.

    The vehement insistence by the Coalition on FTTN as a fully capable fixed-line broadband service makes sense in a "4G wireless vs copper FTTN" contest. Commodity wholesale mobile service provision is not part of the NBN plan, Telstra and Optus are allowed to operate and compete are vertically integrated suppliers/retailers in the mobile/wireless world.

    Perhaps the Coalition will get to implement their OPEL vision of privately owned wireless broadband for everyone when an FTTN fails in the marketplace against 4G & LTE services.

    There is a cascade conversion effect when one of two competing services becomes slightly less profitable than the other: the more profitable service can drop its pricing and steal more customers, making the other provider still less profitable. For the more profitable provider, it's a virtuous circle, for the other, it's a "death spiral", a trap it cannot escape from. The failing provider will abandon the market long before its run out of customers as its cost overwhelm its revenue.

    My estimate from the high cost-base, and inability to offer roaming, of the FTTN compared to mobile, that if market penetration of the copper FTTN falls below 65-70%, it will become unprofitable and be promptly shutdown. Telstra will know these breakpoints and will have calculated them: it can choose to keep an FTTN alive for as long, or as shortly, as it wants.

    Shares in WiFi equipment manufacturers, anyone?
    At 300Mbps, going to 1Gbps, WiFi "hotspots" from Mobile Network Operators are a necessary & highly profitable adjunct to their service, even if offered for free.

    So, I'd like to see some extraordinary evidence from the Coalition that both their dubious FTTN network can be profitable against an aggressive 4G/LTE/WiFi operator such as Telstra and that there is any basis for their outrageous claim "Nobody will ever want more than an FTTN can deliver", especially as there is now real data on consumer preferences from NBN subscribers.

    NBN: The Big Little Questions and their difficult answers.

    In addressing the Topsy-Turvey Debate,  "what's important isn't discussed and what's trivial is cause for endless turmoil", some hard questions remain unanswered.

    As far as I can judge, this whole debate revolves around maintaining a functional copper telephone network, the sole advantage of which is allowing 1925 rotary-dial phone equipment to still work
    Not, for me, exactly the strongest or most compelling of arguments.

    The Big Little Questions

    A dear friend quite innocently asked me "Why do we need an NBN?" and it floored me.

    I had no simple answer for her. I've explained some finer points of Quantum Theory and complex Computer Science problems, like Virtual Memory, to lay people "in 50 words or less", but had no such explanation for my friend.

    Q: Why should I care?
    I have multiple friends who are 'over' the NBN debate after 5 years of "noise and fury" in the media and have turned off the debate.

    A: For our kids and grandkids. We have one shot at implementing a first version of an NBN, why should we let a very small, very vocal group of malcontents get their way at the expense of everyone else? If we stop caring, they win, that is their game plan.

    This, moving to a "born digital" network, is the single biggest change in Telecommunications any of us will ever see. As Tony Windsor says: "Do it Right, Do it Once, Do it with Fibre".

    Hanging onto a copper telephone network never designed to be digital, just so we can be compatible with 1925 equipment is sheer madness, technically, economically and socially.

    Q: Why do we need an NBN?

    A: Because the private sector should've built us one by 2010, but they didn't.
    Copper is a century-old medium that is crumbling and corroded, has given us everything it can and now it is time to embrace the future. An estimated 2% of services are reported as faulty at any time. Many more are faulty but never fixed.

    The Telstra CEO is on-record saying he'd come across a 1995 paper by a previous CEO, Frank Blount, expecting their replacement of the copper phone network (with broadband) to be completed by 2010.

    There is no technical or economic reason that this could not have been done within normal funding if it had been started in the early 1990's as planned. Why this is not so is another question.

    It's a matter of public record that in 2005, a world-wide search for the most competent Telco executives for Telstra landed us Sol Trujillo and his team. Within five weeks of taking on the job, he was meeting with the Prime Minister and his senior cabinet telling them that:
     a) Telstra was in very bad shape financially because it hadn't built a successor network to the telephone and
     b) the way out was a National Broadband Network.

    But instead of taking the advice of the best talent in the world, the Howard government did nothing, as it had for the nearly 10 years before during the incredible rise of the Internet.

    In 2001, a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) network for an NBN was a brilliant idea, technically and economically. So much so that in Canberra, TransACT raised $40MM to do exactly that.

    In 2005, an FTTN network was still a great idea, otherwise the most able Telco execs in the world would NOT have pitched it to the Government.

    In 2007, an FTTN network still seemed a good idea, which is what the ALP took to the pre-GFC election.

    But it turned out in 2009, on the recommendation from the best Telecommunications & Economics experts in the country, that without Telstra's active involvement, an FTTN was not viable. Spending money on old copper technology was a waste because it could never pay for itself.

    Every year since 2009, the technical, commercial and economic arguments for an NBN have moved more strongly towards Fibre and away from Copper.

    Anyone still arguing in 2013 for extending the life of the copper network beyond 5-7 years thinks they are living in 2000, when Al Gore's "Information Super Highway" was 1-2Mbps and 56k dial-up was still "cool".

    Q: What's it going to do for me?
    or: I'm alright now, why should I pay for anything new?

    A: Because what you did with the Internet 10 years ago is nothing like what you do now, so why do you think Nothing Will Change for another 10 years? You're not the only person in the world, others are in different circumstances and want different things to you. The only constant in this world is change. We know nobody can accurately predict the future, but the best hint we have with the Internet is that it will exceed our wildest expectations, just as it has for the last 20 years.

    Every person in Australia benefits from the communications network, even a one minute old baby may need it. Even if you don't have a current need for anything better, there are increasingly large numbers who are desperate for basic services and those who have a pressing need or desire for high-end services.

    I've another dear friend with a 45-yo panel van, bought new, a computer over 10yrs old and who until a year ago was still using dial-up to get email and free Internet at Libraries to do genealogical research. He doesn't have a mobile phone or credit card, either.

    He asked me, very seriously, "Why should I change? I can't see why things shouldn't just keep working".
    There is no short answer for anyone who hasn't grasped technological change is fundamental in this world.

    In Computing, and now Telecommunications, 10 years is 3-4 generations of hardware. Old equipment costs more and more to keep running, while actually slowing down as you expect more and more from it. Businesses who've attempted to keep old systems & software running discover why companies like Digital Equipment used to support obsolete products for a price: doubling maintenance costs every year until the customer saw their way to replacing it with cheaper, faster, more efficient current technology.

    Hanging onto "old faithful" is an exercise in self-deception and false economics.
    Kogan, the discount on-line electronics store, levies a 6.8% surchage to users of (ancient) "Internet Explorer 7"to defray the extra coding costs forced on them.

    I discovered this in 1990 when, after 20 years of car ownership, I leased my first new car: even with full insurance and the most expensive ownership regime possible, leasing, I saved 20-25% in Total Cost of Ownership for a faster, safer, better handling, more reliable and much better equipped car.

    Having "run the numbers" for myself, I got to appreciate the need to check the economics of default decisions, like "keep the old car" or "squeeze the last drop out of the copper network".

    Q: Fibre is really expensive, we don't need to spend all that money!

    A: A full Fibre network is at most 10% more than a copper FTTN, will last another 50 years and the over the 10-year construction project is only $400/house/year to install. It's anything but expensive, not the least because it isn't paid for out of our taxes, but from what you'll be paying anyway on phone and Internet. There is nothing not to like in the current scheme. [While the Fibre cable is cheap, laying and connecting it isn't.]

    For that 10% extra there's unlimited upgradeability for those that want it, and exponentially decreasing costs for those that don't want or need upgrades.

    It's the best of all possible worlds for both camps:
    The avant-garde consumers get their new play-things and live "on the bleeding edge", while laggards, including myself, get to ride for free on their coat tails with ever decreasing download costs.
    The full Fibre NBN is about consumer choice.

    Q: I don't want to subsidise the uber-geeks with their "fast speeds" of 1Gbps.

    A: It's the other way around! They pay for the rest of us to get very cheap downloads.

    Even a superficial look at the NBN Co plan shows it's a phenomenal deal for both those who want to faster and faster services and those who want lower speeds and smaller download limits.

    The NBN Co plan is for conservative growth, but on the Internet, that's explosive compared to any other business:
    NBN Co will drop the price of downloads 19% a year, every year, while their conservative growth forecast is 30%/year. The average revenue per user will increase by 5.3%, while in just 32 months total downloads will double.
    Everyone gets the benefit of exponentially falling prices. If current prices are a bit steep for you, just wait 2-3 years and they'll be halved. Imagine if you could get that deal on petrol, groceries or your mortgage...

    Q: "The Internet is for Porn", that's the only reason people want 1Gbps.

    A: There are many compelling uses for higher bandwidths, like uploading large files, video included, or simply backing up your data. We gave up banning books & magazines and being publicly judgemental of personal preferences & interests at least 40 years ago. What people choose to spend their money and time on is of no concern to others.

    Making any absolute, general statement is sheer nonsense and that applies to the Internet as well.

    14yo boys and girls are overly interested in sex and have relatively too much time on their hands.
    But if all they ever used the Internet for was Porn, then you'd see very different films coming out of Hollywood.

    New media, dating back to postcards, movable type and lithographs, have understood "Sex Sells".
    At some point the novelty wears off and the market matures. We left Public Guardians of Morality behind in the 1950's. Arguing this position comes from ignorance and a desire to enforce a private moral code on everyone else - anathema in a Democracy.

    It's been more than a decade since the Internet was driven by porn sites, this is at best a specious argument by the uninformed and ignorant.

    A view from Telstra in 2003 that ADSL was both only an interim technology, that the copper network needed immediate replacement and that the lead time for this was considerable.

    Wednesday 12 November 2003. Senate inquiry into broadband services [pg 80/1]
    WARREN, Dr Tony, Group Manager, Regulatory Strategy, Telstra Corporation Ltd

    Dr Warren—What makes Australia very unusual is that the regulator required ULL to be ready and operational before we could roll out ADSL. That has not happened in almost every other OECD country. There may be good reasons for that. The ACCC did not want Telstra to get a first mover advantage.

    Dr WarrenI think it is right to suggest that ADSL is an interim technology. It is probably the last sweating, if you like, of the old copper network assets. In copper years, if you like, we are at a sort of transition—we are at five minutes to midnight. There is quite a long delay in lead times on all this

    Senator LUNDY—Five minutes.

    Dr Warren—but I think it is fair to say that everyone is thinking, ‘What’s the next network?’ and a lot of parties are trying to put down bets. Telstra is obviously asking: ‘Which bet do we put down? Is it
    wireless? Is it satellite? Is it fibre to the home? Is it whatever?’

    Senator LUNDY—Isn’t it a bit of everything?

    Dr Warren—It probably will be a bit of everything. There are two interesting questions for us. We are the national carrier and whether or not we are forced to do it we will always have to try and do it as close to ubiquitously as possible. That is a fact of life. For us it is not a cherry- picking model.

    Mr Scales—And, Senator Lundy, your point is exactly right: it is probably all of the above. The balance of all of that is a very tricky question for us. The only point of clarification, just so that there is
    no misunderstanding, is that when we think about the copper network we are still thinking about 10 years out. So five minutes to midnight, in this context—

    Dr Warren—Doesn’t mean five years.

    Mr Scales—It does not. It could be 10 or even 15 years, just to get some context into that.

    Telstra Investor Update 19 April 2012. In 1995, Telstra had planned, without special funding, to have replaced the copper network by 2010.

    David Thodey, p4
    When you talk about an all data world, what that means is everything goes digital. Your voice used to be analogue; it goes digital. That's not new. I was going through some old papers the other day of Frank Blount's, who some of you would remember Frank. It was a strategy paper from 1995.
     Now, this may show how we don't always get our forecasts right, but we expected PSTN to have gone away by 2010.

    2005 Telstra FTTN

    August 2005: Sol Trujillo briefing to Prime Minister and senior cabinet)

    NBN: The Topsy Turvy Debate

    What has marked the "NBN Debate" is the degree of emotion, insult, abuse & attack and the number of highly vocal proponents for each of the two political proposals. The response is out of all proportion to the issue. Something very strange is going on...

    This piece is about framing simple, fundamental questions and proposing some answers to them.

    There is a simple truth, brilliantly summed up by the Bureau of Statistics in 2001, that is constantly overlooked in this debate. Since the 1850's Australians have been at the forefront of Communications, the NBN is just a continuation of that struggle communicating in our Wide Brown Land:
    True to form, Australia was in the forefront of adopting these new developments.

    The Topsy-Turvey Debate:
     What's important isn't discussed and what's trivial, is cause for endless turmoil.

    I've seen some very controversial and divisive public debates, but none like this over a relatively arcane and to most, irrelevant, technical issues:
    • The 60's & 70's Vietnam War moratorium and Conscription debate.
    • The "Right to Choose" abortion debate, still an issue for conservative religions.
    • Indigenous Australians, voting rights, self-determination, the "Stolen Generation" Apology.
    • Equal pay for women
    • Ending of the Death Penalty
    • Euthanasia
    For many, these were "Life and Death" or basic Health issues or the next best thing, basic Human Rights and the Right to Work or Choose a Career.

    The NBN is none of these, it's a modern infrastructure choice, the selection of which won't End the World, in fact, on a daily basis, it will be barely perceptible to many people. It will provide ordinary householders an Internet service "That Just Works", the same for everyone, not "Works, Just".

    The longest running, and potentially most expensive, wars Australia has ever been involved in, Iraq & Afghanistan, was entered into by John Howard with no Parliamentary debate and almost no public discussion or dissension. Many Australians have died or had their lives permanently changed in the pursuit of a very nebulous Strategic Principle with no discernible benefit to our country or way of life.

    This real Life and Death issue for servicemen, generically "Fighting Terrorism", hasn't been costed, nor are figures publicly released. In 2011 it was estimated to have increased Military spending by over $30 billion with $2-$4 billion extra every year for on-going Field Operations. This was funded directly from our Taxes, giving us no tangible benefit and certainly never the subject of any "Cost Benefit Analysis" by the Coalition. It's a valid, direct comparison and one that is never raised in the public debate.

    The multi-billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is another "no tender" Howard era project that is running late, over-budget and probably won't meet its capability targets.

    This is the schizoid, or Topsy-Turvey, nature of the current policy debates: expensive Life & Death issues pass by without comment, while insignificant technical issues cause endless, raging debate.

    It reminds me of Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" where the Lilliputians have a long-standing war that's riven the nation: Which end of a boiled egg should be opened? The Little-end or Big-End? (A phrase well known to I.T. folk in a different context.)

    In my life, I've seen technology change dramatically with little comment, let alone opposition. Even the most fundamental change recently happened almost without comment, while costing households directly many billions, the switch-off of Broadcast Analogue TV after ~50 years:
    • B&W TV introduced late 1950's and replaced by Colour TV in the mid-1970's.
    • Analogue Colour TV superseded by Digital early-mid 2010's.
    • FM radio, then Digital radio.
      • Renumbering of the AM band.
    • Touch-tone dialling
    • Domestic dial-up modems, answering machines and later "Caller Id".
      • relaxation of certification, testing and control of "Attached Devices".
    • Mobile Telephone around 1988, now into its 4th generation.
    Why has the NBN been singled out for such a low and bitter campaign?
    Is this the topic all the Climate Change Deniers and Climate Skeptics latched onto instead?
    It certainly wasn't the dubious privatisation of public infrastructure, such as the Electricity generation & distribution networks. The "gold plating" of which and market manipulation see South Australia with the most expensive electricity in the Western world. Yet this outrageous failure of government to protect public interest and a fundamental commercial & productivity factor goes unremarked. [See end]

    It's not obvious "Who Benefits" nor does the usual tell-tale: "Show me the Money!" help.

    At the very best, it seems to be politicians arguing over which way to open an egg: Lots of noise, bluster and theatrics, but very, very little substance.

    As far as I can judge, this whole debate revolves around maintaining a functional copper telephone network, the sole advantage of which is:
    you can plug in your 1925 rotary-dial phone and have it still work!
    Not, for me, exactly the strongest or most compelling of arguments.

    Electricity transmitters are spending around $46B upgrading poles and wires in the NEM to cater for peak demand (about 8 hours a year)

    Saturday, 18 May 2013

    NBN: Political pressure. When facts aren't facts.

    I got a long (2200wds), unpleasant letter from a Turnbull staffer objecting to a recent piece I'd written.
    If it had cited facts, data or errors-in-logic, you'd be getting a post about that with retractions as necessary.
    I'm more than a little concerned at what I read implies: these people are binary - "you're for us or against us" and they can do no wrong, in their own eyes, whilst everybody else is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Do they understand "Democracy" and all that implies? The need for respecting other viewpoints and allowing expression of opposing ideas... Apparently they've met with God, personally, and are transmitting The One True Word, so the rest of us are Infidels, Heritics or Ignorant Savages.

    Here's what he thinks of me and what I write, I'm interested in reader opinions and comments as well:

    Stephen Ellis wrote on 18/05/13 11:39 AM:
    I could go into more detail or onward to another article, but I can't be bothered.  Honestly Steve, you are better than this.  You should be ashamed of yourself about the misrepresentations above, given the utter cynicism and contempt that you treat what you see as 'politics' from others with.  Whether you meant it to be this way or not, there is nothing except politics, fabricated data and spin in your piece

    Yet unwitting people who know much less than you read it and think it's all true.  It's shameful.

    And more insults from another person:
    Oh Steve stop this "poor little me" act. It is pathetic. You have the attention of the architect of the policy you obsess over and now it is all about poor little Steve Jenkin trying to work his way through the darkness. You were just given more information than anyone else on the planet about the Coalition policy and you are STILL throwing a little tantrum. I certainly learned something from Stephen and no I don't have the answers, which is why I and ... asks hundreds of questions of scores of people ... every working day and then  ... (communicate them)! Seriously. Grow up!
    That "more information" was a bunch of bald assertions ("WRONG". yes, in All Caps).
    No spreadsheet showing the cost breakdown nor a pointer to a documented source of the claims.