According to an article by James Hutchinson from ITnews, NBN Co will start to trial deployment of services to new housing estates from August 8 this year. Interesting use of the term trial, because I am sure the developers are expecting full services to be available from NBN Co, at least that is what I have heard from developers.

I have also been reliably informed that at the recently access providers meeting with NBNco, they have been told telephone services for these new sites will not be available as yet with no specific date given for when telephone services will be made available. Its going to be interesting for all those wanting alarm services or medical monitoring. 

Opticomm, Australia's leading FTTH network builder and operator has launched its new web site. The site includes a large amount of information and frequently asked questions both about Opticomm and FTTH in general.

It also delivers the ability to review the Opticomm fibre connected communities and search for properties services by their networks. The new web site is

Quoting from a Ministerial press release today "Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy today said reports of low customer numbers on the National Broadband Network (NBN) were misleading and ironic given the network was only launched on the mainland yesterday." Is the Minister getting a little touchy on this subject - seems so to me.

Sorry Minister, but you are the one who is misrepresenting the truth. The first customer was connected to the network back in April - on or about the 19th is my information. In the month since that first customer was connected only 7 people have been connected. During that same period of time Opticomm in Tasmania connected 70 "trial" customers in the one month before the launch.

"This is a responsible and sensible approach and it’s a shame some sections of the media can’t recognise this."

The media does recognise this, but they are reporting the FACTS rather than the political spin that you have been handing out over the past 2 years. I feel sorry for Tony Windsor who in my opinion has been totally conned by the Government as to the benefits this will bring. It will only bring the benefits if the network is designed correctly and in my opinion there are many fundamental flaws in NBNco's implementation and design.

"Senator Conroy said the agreement, which is being finalised between NBN Co and Telstra, will see Telstra decommission its copper network. This means as the NBN rolls out, almost every fixed line to a home will be an NBN connection."

But as there is an opt in requirement for the fibre connection, how is the copper going to be decommissioned without FORCING people onto the network? Are NBNco contractors going to trespass on properties which don't approve of the connection?

Stop being so precious, if you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen Minister or get companies who can deliver to do the work.

The "bells-and-whistles" launch of NBN Co's first mainland release site in Armidale occurred yesterday, but its certainly didnt have anything on the Tasmanian launch.

Back in August last year, the Tasmania launch showed off over 9 different applications and services delivered over the network built by Opticomm including:
  • 100Mbps Internet
  • Standard Telephone Services (not VoIP)
  • Fax machines running over the STS
  • Live IPTV from FetchTV
  • Live SmartGrid
  • Live eHealth demonstration between nurse and patient 400kms away
  • Live High Definition Video conferencing between the launch site in Midway point and a School in Smithton using a commercially available 55" SmarTV purchased from a local retail outlet
  • High Definition ABC iView (not currently available elsewhere); plus
  • a live demonstration of a submersive classroom environment
All these benefits which the Government is pushing as the main advantages of the NBN (because I demonstrated the benefits to them), yet at the "main launch" yesterday it is my understand there was no IPTV, no Standard Telephone Service, no eHealth, no Smartgrid, no Submersive classroom and the video conferencing was using expensive enterprise grade equipment rather than the much cheaper (and better quality) solution demonstrated in Tasmania.

Add to this there are just SEVEN customers who have been connected to the network, whereas within 1 month (the same time since the first customer was connected in Armidale) Tasmania had already 70+ customers connected. And it was suggested by Archie Wilson from NBNco that Opticomm couldn't deliver their needs for greenfields.

So a demonstration which was setup in less than 4 days by Opticomm showed the full functionality of the network, but NBNco couldnt even deliver a telephone service.

A recent article by Lucy Battersby of The Age has NBNco's Archie Wilson making some outrageous claims which I wish to counter act.

1. "A single provider would provide a more uniform outcome."

Yet its expected that in brownfields there were going to be 5 or 6 constructions companies. If NBNco had documented its construction standards in suffient detail and had appropriate qualified QA staff, then there should be a uniform standard irrespective of the number of contractors used.

Also clearly Mr Wilson does not understand the Telecommunications construction industry, most of the work is outsourced under contracts anyway and you can see that Fujitsu has outsourced most of the work to ServiceStream who will outsource it to field subcontractors.

So in effect you have lots of companies doing the work anyway.

2. "Fujitsu stood well apart from the other providers"

As far as I am aware, Fujitsu has not built any FTTH estates anywhere in Australia and they have certainly not operated any GPON equipment. They did provide some small support role to Openetworks - who uses Wave7's EPON solution - but it is my understanding that agreement fell apart some months ago due to Fujitsu's inablity to deliver.

It was also claimed by NBNco that Fujitsu had the scale to do this work and no other provider could do this on a national basis. On the same day of the announcement the CEO of Fujitsu Australia said they would have to employee 200 staff to do this work. So Fujitsu dont have the staff at the moment to do the work; they need to get them onboard; and they need to have them trained. As the contract is only for 18 months I would suggest these will be contractors and not permanent staff. Who is going to train them in GPON and FTTH, as this type of experience is limited in Australia at this point in time. Training is also one thing, the practical experience takes years to learn and master.

In my opinion Fujitsu has a significant scalability issue, lacks the staff to deliver the outcomes and doesnt have the training programs in place to support a rapid deployment. They also lack any experience in the deployment of GPON and have little or no experience in FTTH deployments other than a few small estates in a support role to Openetworks.

"The industry was consulted on all standards through representative group Communications Alliance."

In my opinion this is the biggest lie of them all. Most of the work which has been published by Communications Alliance has been ignored by NBNco particularly in regards to the "early stage deployments working group" (aka Greenfields working group)

The Fibre Deployment Bill being introduced by the Federal Government could cost new home purchasers aware between $1500 - $3000. The Bill which is being reviewed by the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network will force all new developments (larger than 100 homes) to ensure the telecommunications infrastructure deployed is fibre based - and with the legislation which was passed in March - Open Access, Wholesale only.
So what does this mean for developers? Well it means at least an additional cost of $1000-$3000 per lot to deploy infrastructure which previously they did not need to pay for. While some developers did choose to deploy fibre networks (at their own cost) as a marketing advantage, the majority remained with deploying the free Telstra copper network.

But this legislation also means developers have a far smaller choice in telecommunication providers to be able to deploy their network. Previously developers could go to any carrier to have their network built (although most went to Telstra), but now with the new amendments already passed by Parliament in late March, residential networks must be built using an "open access, wholesale only" business model. This means Telstra, Pivit, BES, FuzeConnnect, Clubcom, TransACT, HaleNet, Broadband Multinet, and Geomedia Broadband - all who had previously built FTTH networks in residential estates - are now effectively outlawed from building new networks while they remain vertically integrated.

Now there are only a handful of carriers who are open access, wholesale only - namely Opticomm, Openetworks, Comverge and of course NBNco - which reduces competition (a benefit only for NBNco) and thus limits diversity in the market place. Consider what Carly Fiorina had to say about diversity when she was running HP:

"The value proposition for diversity is very clear:
  • Diversity drives creativity.
  • Creativity drives invention.
  • Invention drives profitability and business success."

More significant however is the government is FORCING a cost impost on developers at a time when they can least afford to do so. It also creates more red tape to have their development approved which will only result in higher prices for land purchasers.

While the government may say by dealing with NBNco its only to be the cost of the Pit and Pipe infrastructure, it is actually much more than this. Firstly if a developer deals with NBNco the pit and pipe must be designed to NBNco standards (which is not the case if dealing with other providers); secondly it introduces a substantial project management overhead; and thirdly it lengthens the duration it takes to construct each stage of an estate due to NBNco's bureaucratic processes. These all add to a higher cost of construction and longer borrowings on their money for which the developer will want to place a margin on, thus pushing the costs of each new block of land up by about $1500 - $3000. All this at a time when developers are struggle for funding, having difficulty in some states with volume of land sales and when Australia's housing affordability is at an all time low.