Sunday, 30 June 2013

NBN: MDU's not that hard with Cat-5? Or did I miss something?

I'm not a "Residential Fibre purist", especially when it comes to Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU's) as apartment blocks are called in NBN-ese. Today in the AFR, iiNet chief executive Michael Malone has called for "Fibre to the Basement" (FTTB?).

My guess is that Telcos want to wire VDSL inside buildings, following the Adam Internet example of VDSL2 to 1400 downtown apartments in Adelaide. Why not ethernet, as used in every business?

I think VDSL isn't a good solution, if it was then why aren't any medium or large businesses running their internal data networks?  Businesses can cost-justify very high costs for the benefits they receive: in this piece, I mention the Telstra rate card for a 10Mbps business service is $7,931/month for 'unlimited' usage (total 2.5TB) or 31 cents/GB for 100% link utilisation, vs $8/GB after 850GB/mth.

Apartments blocks designed and built after HFC Cable TV in 1996, especially up-market developments, will already be wired with Cat-5 or Cat-6, or have ducting, plenums and per-floor rack-space.

Body Corporates, the usual form of ownership, are quite used to dealing with Managed Service providers. These are the firms that would manage the installation and operation of the ethernet network.

Essential to the design would be full administration and control of all network equipment down to and including the per-premise Network Termination Device, NTD.

Cat-5/6 cabling, with "RJ-45" connectors, are the standard in the industry. They're tough, cheap, readily available and everyone knows how to work with them, terminate cables, test them and achieve reliable installations. At the moment, the per-port pricing for fibre interfaces is much higher than copper. SFP's, Small Format Packages for Fibre interfaces, are still relatively expensive in the retail market. In the future, I will concede, fibre will drive down in price and become the default wiring medium. Giving the price/performance evolution since 1999, this will take quite some time.

How is the industry standard, ethernet, universally preferred over VDSL, deployed?

  • Cat-5a/6 cabling inside buildings supporting 100/1000Mbps ethernet to user devices
  • Fibre, as 2-fibre active ethernet, between floors and outside buildings
    • usually two fibre links are run for redundancy and maintenance failover.

There are three sized installations that I think need to be specified:

  • micro installs: 2-4 units
  • small installs: 5-64 units
  • large installs: over 65 units

For all these installs, I'm suggesting a new 1Gbps ethernet-NTD derived from the current GPON-NTD (2*UNI-V and 4*UNI-D). Done well, the external interface (GPON or Ethernet) would be a field-replaceable card. This would minimise part-count, firmware versions and allow simple management.

Up to 4-units, the existing GPON NTD with 4 UNI ports could be repurposed as a service multiplexor.
Each of the four UNI-D ports could be connected to an in-premise ethernet-NTD. Multiple VLANs, the critical low-level architectural element of the network, could be passed through the multiplexor to per-premise NTDs.

A single GPON-NTD can, I presume, support 2*1Gbps services and 2*100Mbps. Installations requiring additional 1Gbps services would need a second fibre and GPON-NTD, or the Body Corporate could pay for running direct fibre to each apartment/unit.

Small installs, up to 64, even 100 units, are all multi-floor. Only at the low-end will a single GPON fibre to the building be sufficient, suggesting active ethernet is necessary. The building gets a small version of a FSAM or a modest Fibre Distribution Area.

A network entry switch is needed in the basement, with dual ethernet fibre links to each floor, for reliability and in-place maintenance and upgrade.

Each floor needs one or more managed ethernet switches with dual fibre SFP's. Ethernet switches with 8-24 port capacity are readily available, highly reliable and have low port-costs. The cost of running conduit and Cat-5a/6 cable to each unit, mostly under 20m, is quite low. Getting through the wall into the apartment/unit may be the single biggest part of the job. This same conduit and access could be later upgraded to fibre quickly and cheaply.

The total amount of fibre run up the building cable shafts could be reduced to just two fibre-pairs with (cheap) 8-colour "Coarse WDM" SFP's. One colour per floor. This is light, small and easily installed and tested. Premade, fully-buffered fibre cables would make this task simpler and cheaper again.

Large installs, like large office networks, need to be purpose designed.
For a complex of 500-1,000 apartments, the aggregate upstream bandwidth will be that of a Fibre Serving Area, requiring DWDM ethernet. This fits in with the current network design and the upstream router/switches would be owned and managed by NBN Co.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

NBN: "Internet speeds will always be lower under a Coalition Government"

This is what the Coalition are actually saying with their "Cheaper, Sooner, More Affordable" line:
Internet speeds will always be lower under a Coalition Government.
It's a little deeper as well: "More Affordable" undeniably translates into "Makes less revenue".
This questions the profitability of the Coalition pretend-NBN: it's not Broadband if its not fast.1
The Coalition will not only offer lower speeds, their pretend-NBN will run at a loss.
A little bon-mot explaining the size of the financial problems of the Coalition pretend-NBN is buried in the Coalition's unverified (more 'pretending') financial forecasts:
They claim the pretend-NBN will be finished sooner and be self-supporting faster, but the whole project accumulated losses are around 50% higher. The gap between Capital Expenditure and Project Funding is the losses incurred while the business builds up. For the Coalition it's $9 billion ($29.5B - $20.5B), $3 billion or 50% higher than the $6 billion ($43.35B - $37.4B, using "Free Cash Flow" & CapEx, 2011 to Dec 2020 from 2012 NBN Co Plan).
 I've not seen anyone tease this out, nor ask "Mr Copper" and friends to explain how this works, or the source of the 50% higher losses by 2020, despite them loudly proclaiming "we're in the Black!".

Somehow, the Coalition and the Member for Antiquated Copper rack up massive losses, but are at a loss to explain where these massive extra costs arise or why those unexplained expenses won't kill the ability of their pretend-NBN to ever make a profit. My rough estimates are that copper DSL/FTTN services can't break-even in 10 years under the current NBN Co charges. With aggressive competition, that translates to never.

There is a very good reason that the Coalition's Misinformation and Dissembling Unit deliberately hid  critical figures of their forecasts:
The way they've structured the finances of their pretend-NBN, it can only make a long-term loss. Not only are the early losses 50% higher, the on-going costs are higher and revenue-growth much, much lower. The Coalition pretend-NBN will be a financial disaster and they know it.
Why else do they stop their spreadsheets at 2020, yet quote totals for longer periods? On the one hand they are saying "we know the forecasts and we've run the numbers", on the other "but we won't show you". I've asked the right people for this data and a clarification, in return I got abuse. This wasn't accidental nor incidental - they are incredibly touchy about it.

Political Parties only hide information about Election Policies when it's bad news. We can infer they are hiding something massive and nasty...

My cynical side says "the Policy you take to the election isn't the one you implement". Does the newly anointed and lauded Inventor of the Internet in the Australia, have a completely different plan he'll announce, along with an O.B.E. for services to UK Telecommunications, 12-18 months after the election.

What's the bet they'll suddenly discover "our pretend-NBN will make a loss and we can't allow that! Better to sell now into private hands, realise a massive loss and crow endlessly about 'Worst Government ever' and 'Big Expensive White Elephant'"?

I am cynical enough about the Coalition to believe they could coldly and deliberately plan to destroy $10 billion or more of taxpayer money just to make a political point while also pursuing an ideological agenda: the privatisation of all profits and the unspoken flipside we saw in 2007/8, the socialisation of corporate losses.

My belief/opinion as a single voter is of no consequence. What matters is: what the electorate thinks on polling day.

1it's not Broadband if its not fast.

In Computer Performance Analysis, there are some very well established principles that have been in use since the 1960's to measure the perceived performance of a system.

It's not internal metrics like CPU % Utilisation or VM activity or paging, but something simple that you can test and confirm with a stop-watch:
User Response Time, measured as statistical 'mean' (average) and proportion of responses longer than 2-3 times the mean.
For transactional systems, mean User Response Time, the wall-clock wait time the user experiences from 'hitting enter' to being able to proceed with the next transaction/step,  is typically 1 second, with no more than 5-10% of transactions longer than 3 seconds.

1 second is special. Below it, most people cannot discriminate between faster or slower responses.
Around 1 second, people at terminals starts to notice the wait, faster than that, it appears instantaneous to them.

With webpages, the usual browser rendered image response time target is 5 seconds, sometimes as low as 2.

Translation: On the web, most people feel waiting up to 5 seconds for an action to complete is "instant".

This metric gives us an on-going way to measure and define "network performance":
Application Response Time not link bandwidth, throughput or latency.
Fast broadband can be defined as "Actions in my application seem to happen without delay".

If you were running a 56kbps modem in 1995, downloading simple HTML pages seemed "pretty zippy". They were small, low-complexity pages that loaded and rendered in the apps and systems of the day, within a few seconds.

Trying to upload an image or video file now over a 1.5Mbps (25 times faster than 1995) will seem glacial because the files are now so much bigger, the wall-clock time taken is excessive - and the user cannot do anything else to distract themselves while they are waiting.

Microsoft, even, was acutely aware of this distraction effect, often explained as "putting mirrors in elevator lobbies", in early versions of Windows. Perhaps in 1995, they introduced background printing with much fanfare and attention, because the system would seem much faster to users. Rather than wait for MS-Word to laboriously render pages of a document ready to print before being able to proceed, sometimes 5-15 minutes, users could get on with editing their documents without waiting for the page-rendering.

So fast Internet was, is and will continue to be, "I don't notice waiting for the next thing to happen".

As the World Changes, so people and countries have to change to keep up

Right now in Australia, we have a very large cadre of ISP customers that are at, or beyond, the mean distance from a telephone exchange, 3km, and since 2002/3 when ADSL2/2+ was standardised for use in Australia, have been locked into 3-5Mbps connections or even 1.5Mbps.

While those link speeds were fast a decade ago, they are now slow and limiting, because the world has changed, but not the link speed available.

The most notable example of "the world changed around us" was the Y2K bug.
All the systems, databases and software that worked perfectly up until 31-Dec-1999 and then would've failed, weren't suddenly changed. All their code was identical to what it had been, but was now wrong.

The software and systems stayed unchanged, but the world changed around them: as the calendar and clock ticked over to 01-01-2000 00:00:00, all that code became faulty, not before.

This is the nature of "bit-rot" in Computing and I.T.: the world changes and our assumptions, buried in the code and configuration, don't.

What is "fast" Broadband today will not be considered "fast" in 10 years time: We can guarantee that.

That's the central problem in selecting a suitable technology for a mass rollout in every country. Not "what can we afford now" nor "what do we need today", but
"what will be barely adequate when we throw this new network away?"
It's seems perverse, but Telecomms Engineers must begin their calculations for new parts of the Network with forecasting its demise and replacement. This is the central distinction between DSL/FTTN and GPON/FTTP: VDSL will start mostly adequate and be generally inadequate well within a decade.

Some Network Changes are Invisible, Getting Fast Broadband to the Premise is NOT

The trite statements of the Opposition, and Members for Never Changing Anything, that
"Networks are always being upgraded"
are highly misleading, even, deceptive. A Fibre Customer Access Network is a replacement, not an upgrade project. You cannot do that cheaply, quickly or without disruption.

Those parts of the Network that can be replaced without customers noticing, do get upgraded as demand increases, because they were designed that way. Inside the network, there is never, ever a "Single Point of Failure". There are always 2-3, sometimes even hundreds, of different paths that data can follow.

The system is designed for continuous operation with automatic, transparent failover, so your phone call or internet surfing can continue uninterrupted no matter what disasters are befalling the equipment and links you can't see.

The largest part of the Network, "the last mile" or Customer Access Network (CAN), isn't duplicated.
For every ordinary residential and business customer, there is one massive Single Point of Failure for all their services: the Customer Access Network.

We saw this in spades with the Warrnambool Local Exchange fire. Local Exchanges are where the Customer Access Network joins the highly reliable trunk network: they are still a Single Point of Failure for subscribers.

What is wrong and misleading about the statement "Networks are always being upgraded" is leaving out, "but only in the parts that were designed to be upgraded." In early 2009, the Government Expert Panel made the observation that DSL/FTTN was a dead-end, investing in one had now become a road to nowhere. The Coalition Minister for Yesteryear wants to pretend it's 1999 again and we should party, celebrating lower-speeds over ultimately more expensive copper.

VDSL/FTTN becomes a worse idea every year

The Customer Access Network was never designed to be upgraded to Optical Fibre. It's a replacement, not an upgrade.

The fudged solution that is DSL and FTTN rely on the Copper Customer Access Network alone and cannot be upgraded without massive cost, disruption and effort (equals time).

Blithely saying, "Networks are upgraded in place all the time", while ignoring the critical and significant engineering and financial/economic factors surrounding that, is at very best, uninformed or disingenuous.

A VDSL/FTTN network is, today, a ticket to nowhere.

In 2000-2003, ten years ago, it was a valid temporary network solution while a brand-new Customer Access Network of high-spec Copper (such as TransACT) or pure Optical Fibre was built. As each year has passed since then, the speed and cost equation has shifted more solidly away from Copper to Optical Fibre. It's not so much on the input, or cost, side but on the output side: Customer now want and need much more speed, reliability and durability than degraded Copper can offer, and the gap is only going to increase.

That is why in the early 1990's Frank Blount, then Telstra CEO, planned, and is on record as saying:
[attributed quote: "1995 Strategy Paper". updated 15-feb-2015]
'we expect to have replaced the (entire) Copper Customer Access Network by 2010'.
That is also why in 2005 Sol Trujillo, just 6 weeks into his term, went to Canberra and addressed Howard personally, telling him the Copper network had to be upgraded and replaced, immediately.

The Coalition sat on it hands then when it could've acted, again in 2007 with an inconsequential Broadband policy, and again in 2010 and now for the 2013 election, they proffer another bad deal: exhorting us to "save 10% in return for a 40 times slower network that we'll throw away in 10 years!"

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

NBN for Real People: "Wireless"

"What is Wireless?" Part of a series on NBN topics written for "Real People".

The "Wireless" in NBN Co's "Fixed Wireless" is a mobile phone service, currently "4G" or LTE, working with fixed, not mobile, devices to a distance of 30km.

This is very different to the "wireless" your laptop & tablet use to connect to your home "wireless LAN", sometimes written as WLAN.

These are different from "Bluetooth", also wireless, but very lower power, very short range and low speed. Good for headphones, loud-speakers and keyboards.

"personal hotspots" provided by smartphones are worth noting here. The allow other local devices to access the Internet via the (wireless) Mobile Phone network of the smartphone.
The iPhone can share it's connection via USB (cable), WiFi or bluetooth. USB is fastest and consumes the same or less power than bluetooth. WiFi is ten times faster and longer range than bluetooth, but "will drain your battery". Speed and power are usually related: more power needed to go faster.

NBN Co chose to use expensive and slower Fixed Wireless only in situations where it was more "cost-effective" (cheaper) to do so. The cutoff was around $5-7,000 per premise. Mobile phone technology has many limitations, not only substantial towers, noise + interference and lower speeds, but a single channel shared between all users talking to the one base station. A "cell" is the roughly circular area around a base station. Large areas are covered by a mosaic of overlapping "cells". Calls can be automatically transferred, or "handed off", between base stations of adjacent cells as handset moves around. Driving, or walking, down the road, you can continue a call without pause as the base stations successively hand-over from one to one another. This means a call can be cutoff if the cell you move into is "full" and cannot handle any more calls.

A Fixed network doesn't have to deal with hand-overs as customer devices never move.

100Mbps may be achievable without error correction, right by the tower for just one person, but in high-traffic, high-revenue areas where active calls might be in the hundreds, congestion, and terrible throughput and high-latency for everyone, results.

The engineering solution is as expensive as simple: create more cells by increasing the number of base stations.

Your "wireless LAN" is also called WiFi but its full title is "Ethernet over Wireless", defined in a series of IEEE standards numbered 802.11. There have been many variants (802.11a, g, n, ac, ...) increasing notional rate ('speed') from 11Mbps (11b) to 300Mbps (11n) and soon a potential 1.3Gbps (11ac).

They have used two bands, 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz which like "CB" radio, are free to use ("unlicensed" or 'Medical and Scientific Instruments') but only if very low power is used:  1 watt effective radiated power (ERP) in Australia, as I understand it. These frequencies are very crowded, and a new standard, 11ad, will optionally use 60Ghz. Do not expect this to penetrate walls - if there isn't line-of-sight between the aerials of the two devices, it can't work.

Wireless LAN's are unlicensed, unregulated, short range (20-30m), "line of sight", low-power and mainly used indoors. Enthusiasts have achieved one-off connections with specialist antennas of 100km.

Mobile Phone, which use 4 different bands, 700Mhz is latest to be released in Australia.
 900Mhz 1800Mhz & 2600Mhz are the current frequencies licensed to mobile network operators.

Mobile Phone networks have:
  • higher power
  • long range per cell (10km or more)
  • use expensive licensed spectrum.
  • may have many people competing to use a cell, leading to congestion.
A Brief, unreliable history of Cellular Mobile Phones.
  • AMPS - Analogue Mobile Phone Service came first. the 'bricks'. Developed by Motorola, they invented "cells" and automatic hand-overs between base-stations.
  • 1G - Digital Mobile was GSM (Groupe Special Mobile): an ITU standard. Worked with something called TDM - Time Division Multiplexing - with 8 fixed time slots on a single frequency, giving a hard distance limit (light takes time over distance).
  • 2G -Digital Mobile was CDMA from Qualcomm. "Collision Detection Multiple Access". Evolved into EVDO, then was abandoned.
  • 3G -Digital Mobile... The majority of networks now.
  • 4G - Digital Mobile, also called LTE - Long Term Evolution.

Other resources:

Wikipedia on 4G in Australia: and

and 3G and a variant

NBN's Wireless factsheet.

A good consumer guide to look through. Pictures of things that matter, from 2011.

NBN Co Technical Design Rules. Up to 60 premises per sector, 3 sectors per tower, sharing 100Mbps.
Elsewhere, a claimed hard limit of 11kms on LTE in TDD mode used by NBN Co.

NBN: One poll that the LNP cannot have done.

In an on-line chat between six people, most over 50 and one under 30, we took a straw poll:
If the current direct Fibre rollout by NBN Co is massively cutback, will it ever be completed?
Paraphrased as: "If not done now, it will never happen".

The result? All the older people were more than certain that if the Liberal-National Parties cancelled the current NBN Co rollout of Fibre to all fixed-lines, it would never happen. 'never' as within 50-100 years.

This raises three questions for me:
  • Why were we all so cynical about the LNP promises?
  • Are these views widely shared?
    • Needs a poll and/or focus group to find out & unpick the attitudes/beliefs.
  • Is this important?
Last question first:
I don't believe there is more important, more urgent or more beneficial infrastructure project on the table now. Arguably, the NBN is the most important common-wealth project of the last 25 and next 25 years.
I'd like the Turnbull and the LNP to show me why this isn't so. If they cannot soundly demonstrate that Computers + Broadband don't improve economic productivity across the whole economy, they should be modifying their plan to maximise the rollout of direct Fibre.

Completing the full direct Fibre rollout should, for economic and social benefits, be our highest national priority. That it will pay for itself and return the taxpayer a good return is a bonus.

As a nation, we should be building this productivity improving, common asset, even if we had to fully fund it from taxes and it didn't return a profit.

That the LNP don't see this or their ideological filters prevent them from acknowledging or allowing the possibility, should be of deep concern to all voters and especially conservative voters.

These Parties are more than willing to destroy the best economic and social investment the nation could make in 50-100 years, just to prove a political point or slavishly following their ideologies.

Barnaby Joyce, with Ellen Fanning, raised exactly the right question:
"SBS or NBN? Which one?" (meaning "if you had to decide which one of the two to fund, which one would you choose?" ), which is really
"Can you think of a more important national project than an NBN?"
I can't think of a more pervasively beneficial, more high-impact or more urgent national infrastructure project.
Every single thing we do in our lives will benefit from fast, universal and guaranteed cheap broadband.

Every other infrastructure project or investment you can think of has limited scope, capped returns or finite resources, but an NBN enhances everything, more so with time:
Mines run out (far too quickly!), Farming The North will benefit only that region, and any regional or sector program has, by definition, limited effects.
Computers with Broadband is the real Computer Revolution, just as the Dot Boom pre-2000 thought.
The Coalition Parties cannot afford to find out what the electorate thinks on this topic.

If it became irrefutable public knowledge that most Australians don't just believe but know that there is just one chance at having a full direct Fibre NBN, and it's now or never, they know it would be used against them.


Compare each of these "Top 10" questions from the SMH with what a direct Fibre NBN will impact.
The only question the NBN can't help substantially with, or improve, is Asylum seekers. Others might see a way.

So what is Australia talking about?
  1. Will I lose my job?
    •  Improved Productivity, Labour and MFP, increases Australia's international competitiveness and protects existing firms & jobs and creates new jobs.
  2. Can hospitals look after me if I get sick?
    • Telehealth and improved in-home aged care are two of the big applications of the NBN.
  3. How will the Gonski reform change my school?
    • Ditto Education, major NBN application area.
  4. Has the government given up on asylum seekers?
    • NBN can't obviously improve this area.
  5. Who wins on fast broadband?
    • Anyone who can deliver universal direct Fibre, will win.
  6. The climate
    • NBN reduces commuting & air-travel with HiDef Video conferencing.
    • smart-grid and more...
  7. Planes, trains and automobiles
    • NBN reduces need to commute and travel.
  8. Will I have enough on which to retire?
    • Improved Economic Productivity:
      • more likely you'll have a better job for longer, so save more super
      • There'll be a higher tax-base to support pensioners
      • a better, more robust & competitive economy will give much better returns for super funds, especially for those drawing down retirement streams.
  9. The size of Australia
    • A better economy, reduced road infrastructure and higher productivity mean whatever the population of Australia, the economy will be more competitive, larger, with less "drag" from wasted travel and able to accommodate more people with less new infrastructure.
  10. Will Australia succumb to the financial crisis?
    • Not if we actively improve productivity and our competitiveness!
    • Just "cutting costs" and "reigning in spending" (i.e. "more of the same" approach) cannot improve long-term economic prospects.
    • Why did Australia build the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme? For the long-term economic improvement. Not because it would save any money or buy immigrant jobs.

NBN: Telstra wins, no matter what.

This question arrived in my inbox. I thought it might be worth sharing:
The impact of the NBN/election on the TLS (Telstra) share price..
Alan Kohler is fairly positive in this article in May, are you aware of discussion on this angle?
Thanks for the link. Yes, I saw that article, even if I don't agree.
Kohler got convinced of the "better than the nothing we were offering in 2005, 2007, 2010" point of view.

This is the Coalition pitch, don't be fooled it's otherwise:
For 10% less in build savings and more than that  in-out-of-pocket expenses to subscibers for only a temporary network (yes they'll throw away 75% of the fixed-lines in 10-15 years and we will have to pay for all the work avoided now, but with more degraded and poorer Telstra pits, pipes and ducts, in need of full replacement):
  • the Coalition Plan is to break the "universal access, guaranteed speeds" part of "broadband"
  • AND destroy NBN Co profitability
    • by preventing planned growth in ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) from access rate creep and revenue dominated by high-end download volumes
  • WHILE giving us 40 to 80-fold access rates with massive congestion and unusable latency...
Telstra share-price didn't change when Turnbull released the Coalition plan, neither has it fallen back or slowed its rise. This is information on the collective view of 'The Market'.

Telstra has somewhat locked in contracts, but is racing ahead with NBN Co work to crystallise  as much of the contract, as quickly as possible, because the contract pays them when they declare a pit 'OK to go'.

Telstra are very good at optimising their cash-flow and returns.

Telstra win in every scenario, which is why I think the market is supporting them:

  • All Fibre NBN:
    • Telstra have largest backhaul, lowest cost structure & dump deadweight of copper CAN maint, leverage high free cash-flow from NBN Co payments. Concentrates on 4G mobile & dominating that space.
  • DSL NBN:
    • Telstra might yet own all the nodes (with NBN Co leasing access), still dump deadweight of copper CAN, make more money leasing copper. Concentrates on 4G mobile & taking customers off DSL. Paid for by NBN Co contracts.
  • NBN Co fails because of DSL/FTTN:
    • TLS Concentrates on 4G mobile & sends NBN Co broke.
    • As largest creditor, can purchase them for what its owed. Then has monopoly on CAN (Customer Access Network) again.
    • Can charge what it likes and is able to defeat ACCC demands: doesn't have to build an inch of new network, can only rollout "cost-effective" fibre. I.e. most profitable and force everyone else onto their 4G network, then decommission DSL + copper phone as "unprofitable" or force ACCC to allow massive price hikes, making their 4G cheapest, most viable solution.

Monday, 24 June 2013

NBN: Another 100 years in Copper. Yes, but only for phones.

Mark Gregory made an excellent reply to David Thodey, Telstra CEO, statement last week:

“copper has been going for 100 years. I think it will be going for another 100.”
In what world will that happen?

Is Thodey just playing semantics?
Does he mean "copper will be used somewhere in consumer devices and LAN's", or did he really mean what it seems "Telstra services will still be delivered over existing copper in 100 years".

It seems he's repealed the Law of Physics and Chemistry within his network:
Thodey's special copper doesn't corrode, joints degrade or the insulation ever break-down, under any and all circumstances.
I'd like that sort of power and confidence. Or he really was just having fun and spinning a line to get news coverage.

I can conceive of one, and only one, scenario where Telstra will be running copper elements within its Customer Access Network 100 years from now:
Some telephony, control, alarm or traffic light/SCADA circuits are deemed "essential" and must be kept working at any cost.
And it will be at any cost. A few thousand services running copper - that will be really high cost.

The thing I found most interesting with the article was the comments.
The blow-you-I'm-OK self-centered attitude, ignorance, bias and prejudice shown by many of the commenters on technical, economic and financial is still quite amazing.

Abel Adamski makes his usual good contributions, with many links/sources. He really is a source of hope and rational discussion in a argument full of sound-bits and dogma - look for his comments (and Mark Gregory's). Worth the effort and my thanks to him for doing this work.

NBN Financials: Hidden costs of a VDSL Fibre to the Node network

A long piece addressing specific differences between Copper and Fibre that have raised with me and highlighting additional costs, problems and deficiencies with a DSL/FTTN network.

  • Subscribers become responsible for supplying, maintaining and replacing their own Customer Premises Equipment, unlike the other 3 networks. There will be significant additional out-of-pocket expenses for DSL/FTTN subscribers.
  • DSL/FTTN transfers extra costs to subscribers, these aren't included in the Coalition NBN Plan.
    • The whole project cost, including additional costs forced on DSL subscribers that Fibre, Wireless and Satellite subscribers do not pay, is not included by the Coalition.
  • No "identical service" option. under DSL/FTTN service: No standard Network Termination Device, NTD, option.
    • No pure-digital service is offered like the other 3 networks
    • No 4 data-port option is offered, like Fibre and Wireless.
    • At retail pricing, these would cost $500-$1,000.
    • Modern data networks are designed to be centrally monitored, managed and provisioned.
      • All network devices are under administrative control of network owner, and only them.
      • Firmware updates are remotely controlled.
      • Local users have no administrative control of their local device.
      • The Network Operations Centre, NOC, can remotely test, manage, monitor and control every device in the chain up from the User Premises.
      • This includes remote tests of customer "local loop" for troubleshooting and diagnosis.
      • This is not possible in a "Bring Your Own Device" network.
  • modem costs over 10 years are high, around $500.
    • $150+ to buy a modem retail, not $50 as repeatedly claimed by Coalition.
    • These are domestic grade electronics, built down to a price.
    • Subscribers will replace their modem every 4 years:
      • over 10 years, need 3 new modems.
    • some subscribers will suffer much more frequent modem failures.
  • central splitter install is direct out-of-pocket expense to subscriber, around $300.
    • Filters are required for all DSL services.
      • All non-DSL equipment needs to have a filter fitted or else it will short out the high-frequency DSL signal.
      • DIY in-line filters on every device/phone-point are usual today, but may not be considered by NBN Co as desirable.
      • Central Splitters are the most desirable solution for a large-scale network provider. They can't be accidentally removed or bypassed and just one device makes the network safe for DSL.
    • Each DSL standard operates at different frequencies. For best performance, a specific filter is required. While your ADSL1 or ADSL2 filters may allow a signal, they aren't designed for VDSL2 and cannot be optimal.
      • ADSL1 worked on 1.1 Mhz
      • ADSL2 on 2.2 MHz
      • VDSL2 works on 17Mhz or 30Mhz.
    • based on Telstra technician charges, will cost $300-$400 to install a Central Splitter on the Telco line before your first phone point, the network boundary.
  • fibre can be automatically tested remotely (see standard NTD above)
    • The NTD's for the Fibre/Wireless/Satellite are fully remotely managed and integrated into the NBN Co Network Operations and Provisioning systems.
    • DIY VDSL2 modems will not be.
  • Fibre more reliable than copper.
    • newer technology
      • not yet near theoretical or practical limits.
      • Current production volume speeds of 100Gbps times 32 with DWDM (multi-colour)
    • "born digital" not a hack.
    • newer network, fewer age related faults
    • no corrosion and insulation break-down problems.
      • Fibre does have own problems. Glass is fragile and must be properly installed.
  • no lightning and current surge problems from line. Electricity supply needs suppressors on all networks.
  • copper faults can be intermittent because of high resistance joints and "copper oxide diodes" that persist without "whetting current" from 50V DC phone.
  • the maintenance cost saving would pay for the NBN after floods rain.
    •  lost sales due to more cash needed to maintain the copper.
  • Nodes batteries power supply: regular replacement & disposal of lead.
    • With 68,000 nodes, replacing & recycling their 8*6V batteries will be a large job with a lot of toxic (lead) and corrosive (sulphuric acid) waste to deal with.
    • OH&S issues, not unlike Fibro-Asbestos pits.
Services & Features
  • 4 data services per NTD:
    • Work network, boarder, flatmates or adult kids pay own way.
    • Households can receive multicast and On-demand TV over a specific connection.
      • Higher speeds at lower cost for multicast.
      • Much more secure network, isolated and controlled network for TV's & PVR's means better services, less hacking.
      • Detailed data on household and per-device watching patterns available to 
  • get exactly what you pay for, speed wise
    • User can choose a speed that suits them.
    • If the Fibre works at all, every connection is guaranteed to have full range of advertised speeds.
  • high end subscribers subsidise low-end subscribers, massively.
    • Physically, all Fibre NBN services are identical, but unlike VDSL/FTTN, the line access rate can be selected by the user.
      • People who choose a lower line 'speed' pay less, even though it costs NBN Co exactly the same to run the service.
      • Higher access rates directly subsidise entry-level users.
    • Subsidies are more than just line speed, data volume as well.
    • Download charges will halve every 3 years under the current Plan. More likely much faster.

Economics and Productivity Growth
  • The 5-tier charging scheme for customer services, based on speed, when all services are physically identical and cost NBN Co identically to install, service and manage.
    • This multiple charges for same service, reduces "Consumer Surplus" and increases the profits of the producer, NBN Co. This single capability massively improves profitability and economic sustainability.
    • This is a massive financial effect that is not available with VDSL/FTTN solution.
  • The Coalition admits their DSL/FTTN network is temporary, they are building it to throw away.
    • What's the Network lifetime? 10 and 15 years have been alluded to.
    • How much will be saved by deferring the build? very little: at most $150 in today's terms.
      • 90-95% of Fibre network build costs are related to Labour, Parts and Equipment.
      • Only 5-10% of Fibre network build costs, can reduce in price.
      • Fibre cable in bulk is already cheap: $2/m or $25/premise.
    • Who will pay for the upgrade in 10-15 years?
      • Unknown and unspecified.
    • How will it be funded?
      • Unknown and unspecified.
    • Will the DSL/FTTN network have paid for itself in 10-15 years?
      • The Copper network and in-field active electronics have much higher maintenance and replacement/upgrade costs than Fibre.
      • As an inferior service, DSL/FTTN can only be charged at a single, low-rate.
      • Their is no growth path for DSL/FTTN after installation. Every user will be locked-in no matter how their needs change.
      • With low revenues and high costs and no upgrades possible, the DSL/FTTN network is much less profitable than Fibre.
        • To even pay for itself, let alone make a return on investment over 10-15 years is unlikely.
  • Fibre will guarantee the same link speeds anywhere there is a connection.
    • VDSL2 can't make any link speed guarantees.
  • Fibre has 80-times upload speed compared to VDSL2. [1000/400 vs 25/5]
  • Fibre has an 80-fold download speed range offered now(12Mbps to 1000Mbps], and able to be increased many-fold with current, production hardware.
    • VDSL2 may reach 100Mbps with vectoring to a small proportion of subscribers. Nobody is talking of going to higher speeds.
  • country people are being subsidised by those in the city.
    • The biggest winners for full direct Fibre are country people.
      • They get access to a cheap, affordable technology that eliminates geographical barriers for many applications. 
    • Equality of access and Universal availability are cornerstones of the economic and social benefits of the NBN.
  • the NBN project is NOT funded from Taxes in the budget.
    • NBN Co is an investment that will pay for itself, given time.
    • The government is borrowing money at 3%.
      • The real cost to taxpayers is the interest payments, up until NBN Co starts to make a profit.
  • Massive opportunity cost of not deploying Fibre now, when we can afford it.
    • Australia will eventually need a full direct Fibre Telecomms infrastructure.
    • Right now, we can go there and start to accrue all the economic benefits.
    • The economic benefits of Fast Broadband build over time, due to the nature of Metcalfe's Law and the Network Effect.
      • Start earlier, see results compound faster.
  • lead the world now.
    • As the Coalition is very quick to point out, "Nobody else in the world is doing this!".
    • Which is exactly why Australia should be rolling out dependable, upgradeable, guaranteed fast broadband everywhere.
    • Countries have just two economic factors to make them competitive:
      • exchange-rate: this is beyond our control with a floating dollar. We don't have the market clout to fix our rate artificially low like China.
      • Productivity: Computers plus Broadband are the single most powerful tool to increase Labour and Multi-Factor Productivity.

Voice, VoIP and costs
  • VoIP allows ordinary residential users lowest charges possible and all the features business PABX users have had available.
    • video calling finally becomes cheap and ubiquitous, even if not via the same phone number.
      • HiDef video calls enable 
    • high-fidelity voice calls, in stereo or more channels, are possible right now over RTSP (real time streaming protocol).
      • This creates whole new, useful applications. Not just for hearing impaired.
  • no line rental, $31.95 per month saving
    • Access charges still apply, not called "line rental"
    • Telcos will not make less money:
      • lower DSL/FTTN revenues from multiple line speed & download volumes will require significantly higher charges to customers.
  • no STD charges and no flagfall
    • VoIP call costs are based in data volume: incredibly small compared to video, images and normal web traffic
  • conference calls, transfers, voice mail, call-hold, etc, etc
  • all calls between subscribers on VoIP plans, same provider, are FREE
  • overseas calls 1.9 cents no flagfall to 80 countries
  • every family member or ,flatmate can have own "phone number/account
  • educational benefit -  learn to budget - kids paying their own accounts [joke]

  • 1 $billion maintenance of Telstra Copper network: saving $6.94/month. Not a confirmed figure.
  • "Fibre is 1/3 maintenance cost of Copper" [no source]
    • 2/3 saving = $4.625/month for fibre
  • Australians spend much more $1,000 per household per year on Telecommunications now.
    • At under $350 per household extra for full direct Fibre, the capital investment difference is inconsequential.

Environment/Climate Change
  • "power saving 2 power stations." [I don't think that this line of argument is winnable, but its been raised].
    • Green Effect of FTTH/FTTB Networks, 2010. [PDF] Update 7-Jul-13
      • FTTH (GPON) consumes 13% less energy compared to FTTN/VDSL scenario.
      • For 1 million subscribers, operators could save ~35.5 GWh of electricity and about $3.66 million in energy cost per year with a GPON-based network vs. a FTTN/VDSL2 network.
      • 35.5 GWh/yr is 4MW continuous.
      • For Australia ~10M subs, 40MW.  Not "a power station".
      • Good detailed analysis. Recommended.
      • See also
    • Too complex to go there, an unwinnable argument.
    • Accurately measuring the additional power needed by the DSL/FTTN network is difficult.
    • Pricing that power, on top of other maintenance and install costs is hard.
    • The consequential effects of additional in-home high-bandwidth devices by Fibre subscribers will drown out DSL effects.
    • This is the nub of the question:
      • Will the additional economic activity from sales of super-high-def TV's and content for them, enabled by direct Fibre but not DSL/FTTN, be significant?

  • difference in labour, fibre versus cabinets (nodes):
    • All line maintenance requires a "truck-roll" to a node, rather than "all here in the exchange building".
      • The amount of additional travel time alone will double  or treble DSL/FTTN maintenance costs.
    • Technicians have much worse working conditions with nodes.
    • There are many more OH&S issues, working outdoors without shelter with live equipment.
    • The electrical equipment in the nodes will have a much reduced life from the environmental stresses.
      • For every 5-degree temperature rise, the service life of transistors is halved.
  • 100,000s businesses, schools, govt departments, universities using and paying for the NBN as well.
    • Residential customers are not the primary beneficiaries of the NBN speed advantages and lower volume charges.
    • Other customers, just like in the current Telco networks, will contribute as much or more revenue to NBN Co.
      • All these other users reduce charges for residential users by providing additional income to defray expenses.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

NBN: "two Fibre active services" - possible?

Telstra's rate card includes 10Mbps for $7,931 per month for business [as mentioned previously].

Will NBN Co ever sell pairs of Fibres over the Customer Access Network connected to active Ethernet devices? If so, it would allow a whole new class of applications and businesses - much as "dark fibre" has in certain places.

These links would, I think, terminate in the FSAM. Current GBIC/SFP's sold are 1/10/40/100 Gbps. You wouldn't bother with 100Mbps, because GPON offers 1000/400 on a single fibre.

Would you even need a pair of fibres, or are there adapters already available?
Update: 3-Jun-13. 3-port Optical Circulators split light flowing in opposite directions on a single fibre. ie. still only need a single fibre to the premises.

NBN Co could offer three levels of interconnection (because every link needs two ends), with different pricing:
  • off same FSAM
  • off same PoI
  • connect at PoI to RSP or backhaul
Standard NNI charging might be used: Table 10 (pg 22) of the NBN Product and Pricing Overview.
These are wholesale, not retail, prices, exclusive of GST.
For a whole link, two ends are needed, doubling these costs.
1Gbps $200/mth, $1,000 install
10Gbps, $400/mth, $5,000 install
$20 per 1 Mbps/mth ($20,000/mth per 1Gbps) A flat rate for non-switched service would be needed.

Friday, 21 June 2013

NBN: $7,500 for Fibre connection if you have Rural Electricity?

A number of folk have independently come up with the "obvious" solution of giving people in the country access to "real" broadband by stringing Optical Fibre under high-voltage distribution lines. Just as was done in my backyard here in Canberra.

Those that have been "around the block" often enough know that "obvious" solutions like this are seldom practical and never easy.

I believe that Fibre, at least in Victoria, could be run to all rural households connected to the Electricity Grid for a total of $7,500/household. This could be split 3 ways between the Federal & State Governments and the householder, separate from NBN Co funding. A critical part of the scheme would be dual-purposing the cable: providing backhaul and Customer Access Network.

An extra benefit of this scheme is providing backhaul Optical Fibre into all small country towns, allowing NBN Co to deploy cheaper Fibre, not Fixed Wireless.

There are three conditions this could make this scheme work:
  •  everyone in the country that wants high-speed, low-latency Fibre broadband is probably already connected to the electricity grid.
  •  most of these people are in business, agri-business as we now call farming, and would make a large investment if they saw a good return on investment.
    • This isn't quite right. There are many people, presumably on smaller holdings, that are retired and on fixed incomes. Is this 30%? Haven't chased down the ABS figures.
  •  I think that if fibre could be delivered for around $7,500 that HiDef teleconferencing  alone would save them enough in mileage to pay for it in 12-18 months (12-16,000 km of travel avoided. More if time saved is counted).
My central question is: could Optical Fibre be run in the country for as low as $10,000/km.

The usual costs quoted for buried long-distance cable is $30,000/km, I'm not sure how this is arrived at.
Cable alone costs ~$1-2,000/km. Not sure of differences between aerial and underground.

A Victorian DPI report gives figures of $40,000/km and $50,000/km for Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) and Two wire High Voltage (11Kv)

The report also gives:
  • 84,000km of High-V country distribution to ~134,000 households (ABS),
    • for 1.6 households/km.
  • 34%, ~24,000km is SWER. 2-wire & 3-wire 11Kv account for the rest.
Bulk figures for Australia are:
  •  9M households at 10hh/km, for 900,000km distribution network.
  • Urban density is 50hh/km (20-120hh/km). No idea of total urban households, nor
Research by an associate has suggested that even a lightweight 12-core fibre cable with a nylon/non-metallic strength member can't be strung on the SWER network. The poles have no engineering margin and wouldn't cope with the extra weight or wind-loading.

I can think of three different solutions to this:
  • replace the conductor with a new hybrid cable with fibre integrated of the same dimensions. Not sure about weight.
  • run a lightweight, small diameter fibre cable 1-1.5m below the wire, upgrading poles where wind-loading mandates
  • Bury small diameter plastic pipe/conduit in the right-of-way (at 400 - 600mm, not 2000mm) and run under the wire over gullies and streams, upgrading only those poles if needed. Or these crossings are done with hybrid cable.
I haven't a clue about the engineering or economic feasibility of any of these approaches.

A central question in all this is:
  • Why would the Power Distribution Company do this?
  • How could it monetise the investment?
1. If costs can be held to $7,500, there would be full cost recovery from the subscribers.

2. Some rental of the Customer access network (CAN) from NBN Co.

3. Leveraging the Fibre CAN network into a backhaul or long-distance transmission network as well.
This long-distance asset via alternate paths could be resold to many Service Providers, even NBN Co.

Malcolm Moore, a Telecomms Engineer who was responsible for Network Planning in Telstra for quite some time, has created an innovative design and created first-cut estimates for a shared Backhaul/CAN Fibre network. I think there's a good business model that's being overlooked and thoroughly within Electricity Network owners capability.

"An Inexpensive Non-Urban FTTP"

My guess is that country business folk would appreciate the relevance and utility of a direct Fibre connection, even if they have to fund an amount of it directly themselves.

I can't create a detailed nor fully costed plan, but have come up with a reasonable bounded estimate here.

NBN: Comparing the Plans, costs under 10% different

The whole raging argument between the Coalition and Government over building an NBN is over $175 for each of us, $450 per house for 75% of fixed-lines, around 10% of the $3,700 per house total cost. This is over ten years and doesn't come directly from taxes: the investment will pay for itself, if allowed to. During the build, each house will pay 700 times more than that in tax.

The Coalition 'savings', even if real, are a fleabite. They deliver a much worse system, for savings that are illusory.

A friend phrased his confusion like this:
I think that most people, including myself, just can't conceive what an enormous amount of money that really is. Is it really a good value proposition?
It's $1,350 per premise to connect Fibre. That's a conceivable amount.
There's also another ~$150 for common equipment and links "upstream".

Another $850 goes to payoff Telstra: buying access to your house over their ducts, pipes & pits. The asbestos remediation kerfuffle is over Telstra meeting their contractual requirements.

For 12 million houses, that's a big number in aggregate. But you don't have to worry about that number.
It's like the Federal Budget, an unimaginable $350 billion!!!!
But if you break it down to $30,000 per household, it's much more reasonable and easier to relate to.

There are another $800-$1000/premise in overheads, like provisioning and billing systems. This includes a 10% contingency, interest and losses while the network is being built. With a Big Bang replacement, you need a full staff and running network if you have 10 customers or 10 million. It takes a while for revenues to build up and the operation to break-even.

For the 7% of households in difficult or remote areas where its gets expensive to run Fibre, Fixed Wireless (3G or 4G mobile) and Satellite have more like $5,000 a household spent on them.

It's a subsidy of around $1,500 per household to allow our Country Cousins to have decent broadband for the first time. For me, that's a simple and worthy action.

That's the Big Deal all the argument is over. Installing Fibre is about one third the full cost of building the NBN, around $350 a year for something no other country has and that will last us another 100 years.

The Coalition wants to destroy the value and usefulness of the NBN for the sake of $35 a year.

But its worse, the Coalition VDSL/FTTN plan forces costs directly onto householders. In the first year alone, you get to pay over $450 for a new VDSL modem/router ($160) and to have a "Central Splitter" installed ($300) by a certified cabler.  Expect to buy a new modem/router every 4-5 years.

But the kicker is: The Coalition are saving $450 just so they can throw the whole thing away in ten years and then spend at least another $1500 rolling out direct Fibre.

Who will pay for that? You and I, the schmucks who use the network.

The numbers are simple and they've never added up. At the end of 2008, this is exactly what the NBN Expert Committee said when evaluating tenders: forget FTTN, it's an expensive deadend.

Some numbers from another piece.

Perspective: How much we are talking about here?

From all the sloganeering, "Great Big Expensive" whatever, you might think that the NBN investment was a massive drain on the National Accounts.

These are the facts:
  • Currently, Australians spend over $1,000 per household per year on Telecommunications.
  • The NBN will be built over 10 years. The cost/expenditure is spread over that time.
  • The Federal Budget is around $350 billion per year.
  • There are 12 million households, or
    • $30,000 per year per household is raised by the Government
    • $300,000 per household over the life of the NBN Co project.
  • The difference between the NBN Co plan and the Coalition, the actual cost per premise of gold-plating is:
    • NBN Co per premise cost of Fibre: $1,350
    • Coalition suggested cost of Copper VDSL22: $900
      • per premise cost of "gold-plating" $450
      • or $45 per household per year over the life of the NBN Co project
  • The amount in dispute is 0.15% of the Federal Budget and under 5% of what we already pay to the phone companies and ISP's.
The difference has much less impact than that, because we're not paying for the NBN Co project out of taxes. The Government and the Coalition are both going to borrow to invest and build the NBN, and then that will be paid off, actually making the Government money.

Under $50 per household per year is a very small amount to pay to bring-forward a reliable, future-proof Fibre network, with guarantee speeds and an ability to scale up speeds eighty times, right now.

Oh, and the Coalition NBN Plan is to throw away our $900 investment, completely. Either in 10 years or 15 years, well before the technically useful lifetime expires of their VDSL2/FTTN. That plan sounds  incredibly profligate and wasteful to me.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

NBN: The Devil is in the VDSL detail. What happens to Phone Line rental charges?

One of the big promises in the Coalition NBN plan is the innocuous phrase "without disruption".
They are promising to connect everyone to a Node without their noticing.
This has massive and quite complex technical and financial implications.

The unanswered question, already foreshadowed in the Turnbull FAQ, is "if there isn't going to be a telephone line rental charge, what will there be"? Telcos never reduce their total charges.

Coalition FTTN is not "pure-digital" but a hybrid, not good at any one thing, never used commercially.

The first implication is that the Coalition Fibre to the Node (FTTN) network proposed to pass 9 million premises will not be "pure-digital" like direct Fibre, but hybrid Phone and Broadband (VDSL2).

This matters, a lot, in the technical world. Phones are remotely powered via 50V DC with a 4kHz upper frequency, VDSL2 is 30Mhz and locally powered. The current standard, ADSL2/2+, operates at 1.1 and 2.2Mhz, without power as well.

We know how to build 100Mbps copper "pure-digital" systems:
it's called Ethernet (100Base-T). It requires 4-pairs, not one, uses much higher spec cable (cat 5 & cat 5a/6 for 1Gbps) and is only specified up to 100m, not the 800m Turnbull will use.
We also know how to remotely power digital devices over copper: Power over Ethernet (PoE). It doesn't look a bit like the ADSL/VDSL standards.

From the millions of installed internal phone lines in businesses, PABX extensions, we know the most effective and cost-efficient way to provide a telephone and digital connection(s) to large numbers of people is with two completely separate networks. Nobody in business runs phone and digital over the same copper. With the number of cheapskate businesses out there and dodgy operators willing to provide anything the customer wants, if this could work, we'd see it used. But we don't. Zero, zip, nada, nothing, not ever...

The copper in the telephone network isn't designed for high-bandwidth, nor digital. You wouldn't start from here if you had the chance: one pair of very low-quality copper cable with very poor high-frequency connections and jointing is not a sound base.

ADSL and VDSL work, but only by redefining "work", it's all a kludge and at best works poorly. If this was a car and you could see the nature of the work, you'd know it for the ultimate bodged job it is, not something you'd want to trust your life to.

There is a very good reason that in the last 15 years only two companies in Australia have installed VDSL/VDSL2. Both, TransACT and Adam Internet, started from scratch running to a total of ~10,000 subscribers. Both used brand-new cabling, and at least one, TransACT used high spec cable (cat 5, from what I saw).

Despite trying to make it work for 10 years, TransACT got sold for a fraction of its cost, never reaching break-even from what I've read. We'll never know how well Adam Internet was doing, Telstra bought the company in the last 12 months.

In the meantime, there have been 1-5 million ethernet "ports" sold, installed and upgraded in Australia. This is small & large enterprises, professional data networkers and cablers putting their money where their mouth is. (guesstimate, not verified)

If ADSL or VDSL was a technically desirable, or even feasible, solution, even by itself not as a hybrid, then we would see businesses using it on their internal networks. But they don't. That's a big message.

The complete lack of commercial application of ADSL/VDSL means every practising networking professional in Australia agrees on one thing:
ADSL/VDSL technologies are not cost-competitive nor considered "commercial quality", even when used standalone on brand-new high-spec cable. Trying to shoe-horn telephone, remote power and digital connections over a single pair on old, low-spec, poorly maintained copper is lunacy no professional would inflict on a commercial client, unless it was the last thing in the world.
Moving your phone  + ADSL services to a Node. Not so easy?

The technical cutover of your copper pair, the last 800m, to a node can probably be carried out without visiting your premise to test the line nor interrupting your current service, unless you're making a call. To do so require a lot of planning and preparation by skilled, competent technicians.

Your ADSL Internet connection will go down, but then you can reboot your modem and it'll Just Work.

That's the end of it, right?

No, it's just the start. We currently have over 6 completely separate telephone and broadband networks operating over the Telstra copper and their exchanges using ULLS, Unbundled Local Loop Services, agreements.

All those commercial players, including the dominant one, Telstra, are going to have their telephone and ADSL networks turned off and smashed into one big happy disaster zone.

Who's exchanges, phone services, messaging and 'feature codes' will be supported and used? Nobody's or Everybody's? Who's ADSL network design is going to be kept? How will billing be cut-over? How will fault-reporting and troubleshooting and maintenance be handled? And more headaches than that for NBN Co and the unsuspecting customer.

The hybrid, not pure-digital, Nodes that the Coalition wish to install have to do three different, incompatible things, not one (50V DC remote power, telephone, digital/ADSL), which means they have to somehow combine three services/signals of completely different nature, onto a single pair of wires. That requires extra complexity and a good deal more equipment and cost. It also causes each of the services to be less efficient than they need be. Everything is compromised by a hybrid approach.

We also have a name for these crazy "try to do everything" devices: RIMs.
Telstra has been deploying them since the mid-90's and has over 8,500 in service right now. They're BIG, they're ugly and expensive to install. They are also the only technology known to work in our conditions.

Is that the big Coalition plan? Ask Telstra to install RIMs everywhere? Is that why Turnbull is so sure they'll not just agree but charge him nothing, that he only says "They will"? A very terse and curious statement for one so voluble and verbose to the point of being prolix... Completely out of character.

The problem with all mass-migrations is that you know there will be mistakes and there will be more subtle and hard-to-find ones than you could ever guess beforehand. This is why competent engineers allow reasonable Project Contingencies, something apparently missing in the Coalition NBN plan.

Because there will be Errors, Faults and Failures in the cutover, every single service must be tested for all three services provided at the customer premises. Why? There is NO remote test gear there.
To confirm the cutover is "to spec" and problem-free requires a technician testing inside the Premises - going into the dwelling. Because connecting at the far-end of the drop-cable, or up the pole or in the pit outside the house, is not best-practice. No maybe the Coalition will skip this step and not care about finding and fixing the hundreds of thousands of faults that we know will happen when attempting to migrated 9M services.
The hard part is not the technical cutover, but the Commercial agreements, contracts and on-going Billing, Support and Maintenance

The Techs have left and you're connected to an NBN Co FTTN Node: your phone works, your ADSL2 service works, probably a bit faster, and you're a happy camper. It's all done, isn't it?

Not by a long shot.

Did you notice there is nothing there about the high-speed service the Coalition are spruiking: VDSL2. The "magic" that can push 100Mbps over really poor, unsuitable copper?

That's a completely different story. If you want to go there, you'll need to sign a new contract, buy your own VDSL2 modem (Adam Internet sells theirs for $150+ and in the UK you can pay nearly a $1,000 for high-end gear), but then you can't install it.

We don't know if NBN Co will mandate the use of a "Central Splitter" on their side of the wiring in your house or if you can self install new filters on every phone device you have. Your current ADSL1/2 filters aren't suitable, they are for different frequencies.

Judging by what Telstra charges now for a Technicians' home visit, you'll be up for between $300-$400 for that Central Splitter.

We don't know yet if the Coalition will allow NBN Co to offer a pure-digital version of their FTTN. This would give you a VDSL2 version of their NDT, Network Termination Device, in your house, identical to what is installed without charge for direct Fibre and Fixed Wireless subscribers. Satellite customers get something closer to a normal ADSL modem.

Nor do we know if FTTN subscribers will be singled out and charged for an NTD or not.

Back to your phone and ADSL2 service after it's changed over to a NBN Co Node.
NBN Co are wholesalers, you don't deal with them directly, but with your current supplier.

To have that phone & ADSL working now, you have two separate contracts with your ISP and Phone company. They've provided those services over their own equipment/network and, if not Telstra, paying for access to the Telstra copper line to your house as well.

But when your line is switched over to the NBN Co Node, all of that is turned off, even if you're with Telstra.

There are two direct consequences for you as a customer:
  • The two retail contracts you have may be broken because if the retailer can no longer fulfil all their obligations in the same way (they're now dependant on someone else with different Service Level Agreements and obligations), and
  • We will again be able to "churn" quickly and simply between retailers because all of them are using the same infrastructure and systems controlling it. You'll be able to swap to another Retailer and get different deals with a minimum of fuss.
There's a massive legal conundrum left:
If you have a contract with a Telco where you are obliged to pay phone-line rental and STD call charges, this has to be broken and rewritten to comply with Turnbull's quite bald & adamant statement: "There will be no line rental under the NBN Co"
So, what's your contract and legal obligation when the Techs have cutover your phone to the Coalitions' NBN Co Node? What will appear on your bill before that day, then after that day?

Will you have the option to enforce "no disruption" and stay with your previous contract? I doubt it.

Nobody knows, because Turnbull hasn't thought to clarify it. He's smart enough to have thought of this question and have constructed an answer and policy. It's being deliberately kept from us, which might imply "It's Bad News you don't want to hear."

What I can guarantee to you, is that Telstra, Optus and the other Telcos/ISPs will not accept the abolishment of phone-line rental charges without an equal or greater compensation.

I also challenge the Coalition's assertion "no disruption".
There has to be both an ADSL outage and a significant change to contracts, billing, charges and call rates.

What this means to you.

From the stream of on-line and media comments by people saying "I'm fine with what I've got", there will be a large cohort of consumers that will stay with exactly the same services they have now: phone + ADSL2, when they are swapped to a Node.

If you're paying around $30/month phone-line rental now, because the Telco's cannot be disadvantaged, you'll be paying at least that or more for FTTN services from the Coalition NBN.

Look for tricky, slippery wording about the new charges you will be forced to pay, the total must be higher, no matter what "Non Core Promises" Turnbull and the Coalition might make.

High Charges, Guaranteed.

The Coalition cannot argue a case that the whole bill for existing Phone + ADSL2 services can decrease:
  • They are making NBN Co invest $8-$16 billion more. That cost has to be recovered.
  • They have $11 billion in contractual payments to be made to Telstra
  • They have assumed the maintenance for:
    • For phone line, through the last 800m.
    • Your ADSL service as well.
    • the Node, its electronics, it power-supply and damage from vandals and accident
    • the IT systems to control & provide all services
    • the billing systems for both Phone and ADSL
    • interfacing with all Retailer systems,
    • the replacement telephone network, with all services, messaging, etc, and
    • a completely new internal network to transport traffic back from the Nodes, through Exchanges and up to the Point of Interconnect
They cannot compensate Telcos for lost income and make these enormous technical & financial investments that won't appreciably lower running costs and claim they can do it for less.

Everything they're doing will cost money, but they are not saying how the extra money to pay for it will be raised.

Your new telephone bill won't have a line-item labelled "phone-line rental", but it will have an equivalent "service access charge" that must be larger. You might get a slightly faster service, but you'll pay more.

Because of the iron-laws of simple Arithmetic and Accounting, we know that your total bill has to be more than what you're paying now, otherwise NBN Co couldn't payback the build costs.

What you're paying now in phone-line rental will be increased, so that's a good starting point to estimate the minimum cost of the Coalition's FTTN NBN. If you want to use the "magic" VDSL2 service promised, that'll be more, a lot more, out of your pocket up-front, and every month.

NBN: Coalition support enabling Chinese Internet hacking?

The AFR reports today that Huawei is still wishing to get into the NBN rollout.
The Coalition broadband Czar, Turnbull, supports considering them as suppliers, despite specific recommendations against this by National Security agencies.

After Edward Snowdon's revelations about the size and scope of the NSA surveillance and Internet penetration, we know that many state actors, not just the USA and certainly China, have very active intelligence programs, far more extensive and pervasive than anyone outside the Intelligence community has guessed.

Are Turnbull and his mates stupid, ignorant, wilfully blind, double-agents, mischievous and mendacious or trying to make their past workmates on the local Board of Huwaei a bunch of money?

National Security agencies never reveal what they know. This is a really big deal and one that Turnbull knows in intimate detail: he prosecuted and won the "Spycatcher" case in 1988  on declassifying WWII material.

For the Australian Intelligence community to say anything about a single supplier, let alone in public and name them is quite extraordinary. It hasn't happened before. It's more than ten times as big as all Big Four banks releasing details of their backup data-centres, their networking links and fallbacks and their operational contingency plans. How to emphasise that point enough, I don't know.

For the Coalition, especially Turnbull, to not understand or respect the publicly released opinion of our Intelligence Community is an indescribable action in Bad Faith. If it's a cheap political shot, it's incredibly poorly thought through.

If it's anything more, it would confirm the Coalition is the pack of fools and knaves they seem to be.

Snowdon broke world-changing news about the Internet, did Turnbull NOT notice or NOT understand its importance? If he did, why is he still ignoring the formal advice of our Intelligence chiefs?

It can only be one or the other, either answer brings his judgement & loyalty into question and should disqualify him from being a responsible Minister in any Government.

Earlier this year, Mandiant took the extraordinary and important step of identifying, naming and laying out years of secret work on an investigation: "Advanced Persistent Threat 1" (APT 1).
It was a unit of the Chinese Military. Look up the story, they've been hacking others for years.

What does Mr Turnbull need for him to take the recommendation of the most highly-informed, professional and expert group in Internet Security in Australia?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

NBN: Testing is the Coalition are acting in Bad Faith

The whole furore over the NBN between the Government and Opposition is notionally about funding, but is the Coalition acting in bad faith, wanting to "destroy the joint" just because it can, to "prove a point"?

The Opposition claim the current NBN Co plan is "gold plating" and we can save significant money by doing less and deferring an inevitable upgrade to direct Fibre.

There is a starkly simple test of the genuineness of the Coalition's position and policy:
Would they change the funding model and ask the beneficiaries of the NBN for a direct payment? They could ask households to pay directly the extra to put in new Fibre.
Perspective: How much we talking about here?

From all the sloganeering, "Great Big Expensive" whatever, you might think that the NBN investment was a massive drain on the National Accounts.

These are the facts:
  • Currently, Australians spend over $1,000 per household per year on Telecommunications.
  • The NBN will be built over 10 years. The cost/expenditure is spread over that time.
  • The Federal Budget is around $350 billion per year.
  • There are 12 million households, or
    • $30,000 per year per household is raised by the Government
    • $300,000 per household over the life of the NBN Co project.
  • The difference between the NBN Co plan and the Coalition, the actual cost per premise of gold-plating is:
    • NBN Co per premise cost of Fibre: $1,350
    • Coalition suggested cost of Copper VDSL22: $900
      • per premise cost of "gold-plating" $450
      • or $45 per household per year over the life of the NBN Co project
  • The amount in dispute is 0.15% of the Federal Budget and under 5% of what we already pay to the phone companies and ISP's.
The difference has much less impact that that, because we're not paying for the NBN Co project out of taxes. The Government and the Coalition are both going to borrow to invest and build the NBN, and then that will be paid off, actually making the Government money.

Under $50 per household per year is a very small amount to pay to bring-forward a reliable, future-proof Fibre network, with guarantee speeds and an ability to scale up speeds eighty times, right now.

Oh, and the Coalition NBN Plan is to throw away our $900 investment, completely. Either in 10 years or 15 years, well before the technically useful lifetime expires of their VDSL2/FTTN. That plan sounds incredibly profligate and wasteful to me.

Test : Will subscribers pay for the benefits of direct Fibre up-front?

The whole of the divisive and rancourous debate over the NBN is over this one point:
 an extra $450 per household now, or throw-away twice that ($900) per house in 10 years and invest yet another decade and $1,500+ to get where NBN Co wants to go right now.
What looks like a Bad Plan and a massive waste, pouring good money after Bad into worn-out and already obsolete Copper - that we don't even own - gets worse the harder you look at it.

The test is simple and direct and falls dead square in the Coalition Ideology of "user pays":
Ask the voters, the same people who benefit from the NBN, if they'll pay now for the small extra cost to get direct Fibre now.
It's either a $450 payment up-front or $15/month over 3 years. Exceedingly little for a massive upgrade.

In the context of already paying over $1,000 per year to the phone companies, $15/month for 3 years is no impost on customers.

If the Coalition are genuine and acting in Good Faith, why haven't they make the obvious and simple "Put Up or Shut Up" challenge to the electorate?

It's a simple test and one that won't lose them face and can only win them votes. And it is backed by solid, sound financial decision making.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

NBN: Changing Party Policies

Political Parties are both easy and difficult to influence.
If you want Hi-Def Fibre Networking to your house, which means every house, there are 12 weeks left to influence your local candidates.

Parties are completely deaf to requests and issues outside, or opposed to, their ideological framework. It's extreme "cognitive dissonance". E.g.:

  • Do NOT attempt to get the Libs to do look at publicly owned Enterprises, no matter what the social benefit, community savings or how justified by Cost Benefit Analysis.
  • Don't waste your time trying to get the ALP to wind-back social support programs, no matter how wasteful, costly, inequitable or unnecessary.
BUT, since the 1920's when Dr Gallup applied his doctoral research in sampling theory to elections, Political Parties have become more and more the slave of "What the voters think".

Ending inevitably in 2000 in the 50.00% / 50.00% electorate split of Al Gore v George W...

John Howard and Paul Keating were our last great ideologically driven leaders here, in Australia.

Political Parties are predominantly Marketing Entities (they want your vote)

John Howard and his team, were masterful in using surveys & samples to most effectively target where to spend their limited money, resources and campaign time. The ALP is said to be the slave of "focus groups", famously lampooned in the ABC comedy series, Hollowmen, though the writers/producers were very careful to leave open which side of Politics "the PM" was on.

We know from frequent media comments that both sides constantly sample electoral opinions and run focus-groups, just like any market-driven seller of discretionary, intangible goods. Hollywood & (computer) Gaming spring to mind as comparable operations.

Political Parties care deeply about what the electorate think, and leaving their blindspots aside, will and do respond to community sentiment. The most outstanding examples are Howard's adoption of many of Pauline Hansen positions and Gillard's forced about-face on refugees and detention (and Carbon Pricing and Mining Tax and ...)

Both major Political Parties are known to keep extensive databases on individual voters. Every contact you make with a candidate or political party will be logged and stored for later analysis. This is so they can then very finely target voters of all persuasions in specific electorates on specific issues, maximising their marketing effectiveness and likelihood of gaining your vote.

This isn't Big Brother or "1984", it's a highly tuned Marketing Machine. But these guys do make the laws and exempt themselves from most (all?) privacy and spam/junk mail restrictions. Both sides agree that they should be able to do almost anything they like... [Others can comment on the limits.]

How to influence the major parties.

Don't contact the Party Office, contact your local candidate, especially the one that has a policy different to the one you're interested in. You'll be asked your name and address, this will be used for their database. They should NOT ask your birthdate, but your age might be pertinent, certainly your 5-year age-group and employment status. If you don't reside or vote in the candidates electorate, don't expect the candidate, or their staff, to listen closely to you.

I have no idea if Letters to the Editor get monitoring by the Parties. I'm sure both sides place many letters themselves.

The software the Parties use weights how approaches are made, starting with you residing in the electorate. These are my guesses at their weighting system, if anyone knows better, please help me update this list:
  • 100 points: personal visit to candidates office
  • 50 points: physical letter to candidate
  • 25 points: phone call to candidates office
  • 5 points: email to candidate
  • 0-1 points: tweets and facebook posts. Counted by the thousand?
  • 0-1 points: "meet and greet"
  • 0-1 points: petitions, online probably less.
You'll note I've not included "are you a Party Member?" or "do you vote for us?". I've no idea how these are weighted. Party Members have different means to influence Policy and access candidates.

I don't know if there's a multiplier for multiple contacts, or a "serial pest" category where your opinions/approaches are removed from the database. It'd be reasonable to expect the more often you contact a candidate over an issue and over a longer time, that it would count for more than a "one-off". 

But hassle them and they'll just turn-off and you've just wasted your time. They're people and salesmen/women: which is first depends on the person. They will react to you in accordance to how likely they think they are to make a "sale" and gain your vote.

How Parties use their Contact Database

Simply, I don't know.
We know they value information they pay for: polls, surveys and focus groups.

I suspect during critical periods they mine their central database for trends, they are sophisticated marketing organisations after all and feed that into their poll results. I've no idea how highly or lowly they weight or rank various data sources, including direct electoral contacts.

You'd expect them to aggregate data over the Country, State and Electorate, even down to a local area.

The "operators" whom capture your 'contact'  can only classify it according to issue-tags already set up in the database. If the Party is purposefully blind/deaf to an issue, there will never be tags for it and voter concerns on the issue/topic will never be aggregated and reported. It's a waste of your time trying to change their ideological position.

It's a self-reinforcing view of the world, but that's how these things work. All Bureaucracies, not only Political Parties, work hard to filter out Bad News or anything contrary to the Prevailing View.

Call to Action

If you do nothing, nothing will change. That's the only certain outcome.

If you don't like the current Policy of either major Party, especially about the NBN, then you can make your views known, you can influence your candidate and their party so they at least placate & sympathise with you and you may get the Party to modify their policy. Maybe... How much do you care about it, how much work are you willing to put in to attempt making a difference?
  • The more people that contact their local candidates, the more likely they are to listen.
  • The more often you contact your local candidate, the more likely they, and their Party machine, will take notice of your concerns. This is a precursor to modifying or "tweaking" their Policy.
  • The more effort you go to, the more influence you're likely to have.
    • If you spend 50 cents and send a real letter, you'll have more chance of influencing change than by phoning in or sending an email.
So, if you don't like the NBN Policy of either major Party as it stands now, then do something about it, don't just think or talk to people who can't change anything.

Whatever Policy is still standing on Election Day will be the best version we'll get, though after Howard's "Core Promises", we know "things may change" and less than what was promised may result.

Speak now or forever hold your peace. Seriously. Act now or we'll get the worst of outcomes.

The NBN Policy in place this Christmas is the one we and our grandchildren will have to live with.
It will be in place for at least 50 years.

Don't believe it?

Great Public Projects never done are the rule, not exception. Good political commentators will list 50-100 important and beneficial public projects that have been promised forever, but never done.

Monday, 17 June 2013

NBN: How the Coalition Plan will Smash it.

A lot of commentators have said on the NBN Coalition Plan, it is one or both:
  • "good enough", or
  • they've embraced the necessity of the NBN and given up their long-time ambition of "Smash the NBN".
I believe both positions are naive and wrong, nothing has changed so why will their position have changed?

The Coalition has always been implacably opposed to the NBN on a raft of ideological grounds which haven't changed: they are anti-public ownership, anti-public businesses (on the false grounds that only private enterprise can be truly 'efficient') and violently pro-private ownership. The Howard-Costello sale of any and all Government assets and the early push to outsource all services shows this is Core Policy, not an abberation.

This isn't a variation of "Socialise Losses, Privatise Profits", but at the heart of their financial-first political catechism.

The figures in the Coalition NBN Plan have all been carefully fabricated to seem "reasonable" while constructing an outcome that will fulfil their ideological goal: destroy the publicly-owned NBN.

The give-away in the Coalition figures is the deliberate withholding of critical detail, like the number of nodes, the average VDSL2 cost per premise, the FTTN's economic lifetime and any breakdown of expenses and revenues. Then there's the omission of projections past 2021, but

If you think it's unfounded suggesting that the Coalition could or would place ideology above public good, waste money or avoid necessary investment, think again.

It's no a surprise that the Government pushes a dim view of the performance of the Howard Government's record, citing a recent OECD report:
In contrast, Tony Abbott was a senior minister in the Howard government which slashed road funding by $2 billion, starved rail of much-needed investment and refused to commit even one dollar to urban public transport. In fact under the former Howard Government, infrastructure spending hit a record low.

But you might listen when one of the ultimate 'economic dries', Henry Ergas, well known infrastructure economist and no friend of the ALP, on record as calculating that the NBN fails a Cost/Benefit analysis, writes that the Howard Government made many very poor infrastructure decisions and indulged in needless, wasteful spending, citing an IMF study.

There are two simple "sanity checks" to apply to the Coalition Plan:
  • If all you save is $450 on each of 9M services, a total of $4 billion dollars, then how do you save a total of $17 billion and decrease operating expenses by 20-25%?? It's impossible.
  • If Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) either ADSL or VDSL/VDSL2 were ever economic in Australia, then why haven't we seen them rolled out and been successful?
    • Telstra runs the largest network of 8500+ Nodes, RIMs, and has never attempted to complete it's early 1990's plan to replace the entire copper network by 2010. 
    • TransACT attempted to rollout a FTTN network in 2002/3 for $40 million. It sold at around a 75% discount.
    • The only VDSL2 service in Australia is offered in a high-density CBD complex of 1400 dwellings in Adelaide.
    • Since 2000, the economies of nodes versus direct Fibre has steadily shifted to direct Fibre.

The scenario I think will most likely play out is straightforward.
  • The 75% of fixed-line connections being VDSL2/FTTN is designed to drive down revenues to unsustainable levels. 
    • Why not 33%, 50% or 90%?
      • Just enough Fibre to placate the electorate, but not enough for critical mass.
      • This couples with the mandate for NBN Co to provide for direct Fibre in FTTN areas: maximum cost, minimum revenue.

    • The revenue from the FTTN is doubly reduced compared to direct Fibre:
      • The NBN Fibre price schedule allows them to charge many different rates for the same connection: NBN Co do nothing but flip a bit to increase the value (link speed) of a service. This maximises revenue by reducing Consumer surplus.
        • Compare this to the presumed single-price for VDSL2/FTTN services.

      • Secondly, the NBN Co is based on continued, very solid growth in download volumes. While they halve cost per GB every 3 years or less, their 30% compound annual growth rate is conservative.
        • The NBN Co plan revenue growth was always driven by high-end users: those connected with big pipes. With the majority of people capped below 40Mbps, all this revenue is lost.

    • The FTTN netwok has at best a 6 year advantage over direct Fibre.
      • After ~5 years, all the initial economic advantages of VDSL2/FTTN will be overtaken by the lower operational costs of direct Fibre. The FTTN will be more expensive to run, causing an increase in service access charges, and a nightmare in charging for Retail Service Providers.
    • The Coalition has made statements that it prefers explicit subsidies to uniform pricing as a cross-subsidy, but what of the VDSL2/FTTN and direct Fibre networks?
      • As the FTTN becomes increasingly expensive to run, will NBN Co be allowed to charge differently for it and direct Fibre?
      • I expect they'll force a cross-subsidy to artificially support the old, degraded copper network.
    • The Coalition will cap NBN Co funding unrealistically low: at ~$30 billion, when they know they'll still need $40-$45 billion as VDSL2/FTTN can only save $4 billion, not the claimed $17 billion.
      • Will a Coalition Government allow NBN Co to raise additional funds through Debt, by issuing Bonds, or starve them of money, forcing the company into liquidation?
      • In liquidation, NBN Co assets will only be worth a small fraction of their value as a "going concern".
      • The major creditors, Telstra and Optus, will have the option to swap their debt for ownership...
    • The take-up rate in VDSL2/FTTN areas will be much lower than for direct Fibre, not so much because of the removal of "cherry-picking" clauses, but from the direct competition by G4/LTE wireless networks.
      • Telstra and Optus have everything to gain by owning the wholesale and retail services to customers versus only the retail side in a highly-competitive market, and
      • can match NBN Co pricing while offering "superior" raw line access rates.
      • Same price, faster service: why would rational consumers sign-up for VDSL2/FTTN and not with a G4 mobile operator?
    • Once privatised, especially if it's gone bankrupt, Telcos will be able to charge very much more for NBN Co services, the ACCC not withstanding.
      • They simply don't have to build-out a universal direct Fibre network, but can charge "cost recovery" for individual Fibre connections. $5,000 will turn out to be a lowball estimate.
    Would the Coalition intentionally destroy a $30 billion Government investment?
    Under Howard they wasted far, far more than that, so I believe, "in a heartbeat".

    Under Abbott, a Coalition Government will focus on proving it's mantras: "Worst Government Ever" and "Great Big White Elephant" about the NBN.

    Why would they want, or allow, NBN Co to succeed when it undermines the last 4 years of their rhetoric? This also nicely explains the indecent haste with which they wish to remove an independent, competent CEO, Mike Quigley. As I've previously opined, Australian Governments have a history of removing "non-compliant" CEO's, especially of their Telcos.