thinkbroadband :: Paris suburbs to benefit from FTTH network
While the Australian political parties are bickering on about the pros and cons of a fibre-to-the-premises service compared with a fibre-copper (fibre-to-the-node) service for the National Broadband Network, plans are underway to cover the Parisian metropolitan area in France with a fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband service.
They pitched €20 million to the effort with France Télécom (Orange) and SFR behind the effort. This is intended to be a public effort with the Ile-De-France regional government standing behind the effort but it will exclude the city of Paris which would be the actual Paris CBD (downtown) area.
It seems like this kind of effort with two private companies who have their own infrastructures working towards a better infrastructure is considered ludicrous in the English-speaking world. But the mindset that drives Continental European business can allow for co-operation on larger projects and improved technology. Similarly, the idea of a national, regional or local government assisting private companies in a public-private effort to work a project may also be considered ludicrous especially when you hear of conservative governments in the US and Australia making efforts to cut down on public-funded broadband deployments.
I have written about the issue of having public assistance in private efforts to roll out broadband-Internet-improvement projects in order to prevent redlining and to allow areas that could be covered to be covered. Why can’t this practice be readily accepted when it comes to rolling out a broadband-improvement project in the UK, USA or Australia – is it too much a political hot potato?
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A common remark that I hear about next-generation broadband is that it is a service we don’t need. Here the image that is underscored is that current-generation broadband services like ADSL2 or cable-modem Internet are good enough for email and Web browsing with a dash of multimedia communication thrown in.
But the next-generation Internet services are providing for newer realities especially as we increasingly do some of our work from home or increase the use of multimedia that is available online.
Video and entertainment applications
A major driver for the next-generation broadband technology is its role in delivering entertainment content to customers. This has been underscored through the availability of network-enabled AV equipment that can also draw down this content from the Internet.
One major application class that I see with next-generation broadband is the distribution of video that has very high resolution. This will become the norm as more display devices will have high pixel-density displays. For example, a device like a 10” tablet to a 21” personal-display screen will acquire something like a 1080p resolution while the 32”-55” group-viewing displays will acquire the resolution for a 4K UHDTV picture.
This year, the 4K ultra-high-definition TV technology is being premiered by the likes of Sony, with the idea of the content currently being delivered on to hard disk media players connected to these displays.
Similarly, more newer video content is being turned out with the 1080p full high definition images. This includes older content, especially the material that was mastered to 16mm or 35mm film being mastered to 1080p full high definition video.
IPTV and video on demand
Another key application is the provision of Internet-based video services. These could be in the form of scheduled IPTV broadcasts or video-on-demand services where you can pull in video content to view. The video-on-demand services could be offered as a streaming service where the server streams down the content as you view it or as a download service where the content is downloaded to local mass-storage for you to view from that location.
The cost of entry is being reduced significantly at both the service provider’s end and the consumer’s end. In the latter case, this is enabled through various smart-TV platforms offering this service through TV sets and video peripherals like Blu-Ray players, games consoles and network media receivers. The former case is underscored by the arrival of an “action sport movie” channel that is running movie and TV content themed around high-action sports and making use of IPTV due to its low cost of entry.
It also appeals to the different business models like advertising-supported, pay-per-view, content rental, time-based subscription and download-to-own, with the operators being able to offer a mix of models to suit the content and the audience.
Telecommuting and small-business enablement
Another key application that the next-generation broadband will provide is various communications and business-enablement services. This can cater for people who telecommute (work from home for an employer) on a full-time or ad-hoc basis, people who maintain a shopfront for their business but do their office work at home or those of us who run professional or other business services from our homes.
Videoconferencing and IP communications
With the success of Skype in the consumer space, the concept of IP-based communications is likely to drive the need for next-generation broadband.
For example, the videocalls currently offered through Skype allow for 720p video resolution through the current generation of Webcams in the field. Similarly, HD voice communications which allows one’s voice to come through in FM-radio quality is being supported by Viber and most over-the-top telecommunications services. This latter ability can benefit people who have a distinct accent in that they can be heard easily.
In some cases, this could extend to “real-business” telecommunications like PABX functionality or telepresence / teleconference being made available to the small-business crowd. For example, a small-business owner who sets up shop in another area could benefit from VoIP tie-lines that link both locations or a professional services provider could engage in videocalls with clients using Skype or better services.
Another key driver for next-generation broadband is the idea of “cloud computing”. This can extend from email, social-networks and Internet banking through to file-drop, media-sharing and online-backup services. Even businesses and multiple-premises home networks are or will be implementing “small private cloud” setups which interlink computer systems that are at multiple locations, whether on a remote-access or peer-to-peer basis.
But what is common with these services is that they require the ability to transfer large amounts of data between the home network and the service provider. This will cause a demand for the bandwidth offered by the next-generation broadband services.
Although it is so easy to say that there isn’t a need for next-generation broadband, as the new applications come on to the scene, these applications could ultimately underscore the desire and need for this technology.
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The recent NBN announcement put forward to the Australian people by the Coalition has determined that a fibre-copper setup is a more economical method for delivering the broadband service to already-developed (brownfield) locations than the fibre-to-the-premises setup that Labor is running with. There are some countries like the UK and Germany who run these networks, mainly with the option of full fibre deployment as an option.
The kind of talk I am raising here may work against the “preferred” idea of using existing copper infrastructure in existing condition for delivering next-generation broadband to the customer. This is because of certain realities concerning the existing infrastructure, such as a copper network that was engineered for an area that was more sparse than the current occupation density or a network that needs a lot of attention to provide reliable and optimum service.
A copper network that suited a sparse development
But I see the issue of a fibre-copper network as being area-specific for each brownfield area. Here, this could depend on the density of the brownfield area such as the concentration of multiple-tenant developments or the existence of many smaller properties since the copper network was established.
In this case, one may have to factor whether the copper network may need to be revised to cater for this increased density or whether the point of exchange between the fibre backbone and the copper network needs to be moved closer for some developments. For example, a large apartment block like some of the ones on the Gold Coast or St Kilda shoreline; or a large shopping centre like Doncaster Shoppingtown or Knox City may find that it is better to have a “fibre-to-the-building” approach with the point of exchange in the development.
Older copper networks that need extensive repair work
A copper telephony network that has been neglected by the incumbent telephony provider may need a fair bit of attention to have it work at an optimum speed for a fibre-copper broadband development. This can be more so for those networks that exist on peri-urban, regional and rural areas where there has been minimal investment in these areas.
The network may “just work” with voice telephony or baseline fax applications but may not perform as expected for a DSL application as I have written about before. In some cases, the customer may not even benefit from a reliable DSL service, and the VDSL service is most likely not to be as fault-tolerant as the existing ADSL technology.
If there is a planned fibre-copper deployment, it shouldn’t be just a case of installing a street cabinet and connecting service wires and the fibre backbone to that cabinet. In some cases, it may be about surveying the copper infrastructure for pair-gain setups, decrepit wiring / connections and other situations that may work against optimum VDSL service. Here, it may be worth dong a comparative cost analysis on remedial work for a copper infrastructure to see whether rolling out new fibre or copper infrastructure would be cheaper than doing many repairs to existing decrepit infrastructure.
This kind of work may benefit the retail Internet service providers in the reduced number of customer-service issues due to substandard service, thus providing a positive customer-service image for them.
I would therefore argue that not all copper telecommunications networks that exist in brownfield areas can be the economical basis for a fibre-copper next-generation broadband setup unless they have been surveyed and found to provide reliable service for the area concerned and the technology that is being considered.
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thinkbroadband :: Vonage and Gigaclear in partnership deal
From the horse’s mouth
UK company webpage
As you may already know, Gigaclear have been known for rolling out focused fibre-to-the-premises deployments to various Oxfordshire and Berkshire villages in the UK to enable them for next-generation broadband. A lot of these services are known to provide up to a gigabyte in upload and download capacity.
Now they have partnered with Vonage, a US-based over-the-top VoIP telephony provider to exploit this bandwidth for providing VoIP telephony. One would see this as a way to eliminate dependence on British Telecom for landline voice telephony for people who sign up to Gigaclear FTTP services.
Here, the main advantage would be for the new Vonage customers who are behind the Gigaclear services to avoid having to pay the £9.99 activation fee when they set up for VoIP service and will benefit from calling anywhere in the UK for £5.99 per month. As well, Vonage do sell a VoIP analogue-telephone adaptor that is set up for these services as part of the service so you can use that existing landline phone with your VoIP service.
But one could easily ask whether Gigaclear could resell the VoIP service on behalf of Vonage so that customers could buy the telephony and Internet as a package. Similarly, another question could be asked whether Gigaclear could also partner with an IPTV provider to resell pay-TV to the customers.
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thinkbroadband :: Highlands and Islands in £146 million fibre boost
From the horse’s mouth
Another rural area in the United Kingdom is being enabled with real broadband. This time it is the Highlands and Islands region in Scotland.
The mighty Scots will have a fibre-optic infrastructure that will intend to pass at least 84% of homes and businesses in this area. The setup will be primarily of the FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet / fibre-to-the-curb) fibre-copper setup with some installations being FTTP (full fibre-to-the-premises) setups.
This £146m project is being primarily provisioned by BT but, like a lot of these projects, has a lot of public funding. There will be £19.4m pitched by BT and £12m coming from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise business group with balance being public money from BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) and from Edinburgh.
This will be considered one of the most ambitious rural-Internet-enablement projects in the UK due to the geographical makeup of the are i.e. the hilly nature of the Highlands as well as the Scottish Islands separated by water. One of the main costs would be to run 19 undersea fibre links to the Scottish Islands that are in this district. As well, areas that are considered to be remote will be the target of a £2.5m innovation fund to get broadband in to them.
What I would see of this is that the Highlands and Islands project can he used as an example of deploying real next-generation broadband to areas that have a mixture of geographically-difficult terrains like mountains or islands.
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Articles – French language
Dordogne : le calendrier du très haut débit se précise – DegroupNews.com
L’Aquitaine se prépare au défi du très haut débit
In France, there are greater plans to cover the Aquitaine region with next-generation broadband. This time, the Dordogne (24) département is now part of the blueprint to deliver this service through the region. Previously they have established the Lot-et-Garonne and Gironde départements as part of the effort. Initially the effort will be focused on the Gourdine and Bergerac population centres.
There has been work undertaken on coverage in the Bordeaux, Biarritz and Pau population centres with initial involvement from energy companies in that area.
Initial plans require the fibre trunks to be laid after 2015 and the work complete after 5 years.
France Télécom / Orange will be primarily behind the effort as far as the infrastructure is concerned. But a good question to raise is whether there will be local or regional public investment in the effort? This is although most rural-broadband-improvement / next-generation broadband efforts in the UK and France have a fair bit of public investment from local government.
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Article (Broadcast transcript)
Media Watch: The difference between advocacy and analysis (11/03/2013) – Video and transcript through this link
Very often, the media conversation about the National Broadband Network in Australia is so polarised.
The agenda amongst the technology community (including HomeNetworking01.info), the ABC, the Australian Labor Party, the Fairfax metropolitan press and other progressive groups is that the NBN should be primarily the fibre-to-the-premises setup. Conversely, the agenda amongst the business press, Sydney commercial talkback radio, The Australian, the Liberal-Party / National-Party Coalition and some other conservative groups is to implement a fibre-copper setup especially in brownfield areas due to it being considered the cheaper option. Some of this talk suggests the use of coaxial-cable runs for the copper run rather than VDSL2 (existing telephone cable) or Metro Ethernet (new RJ45 cable) for these runs.
In some cases, a lot of this talk plants seeds of doubt in the uninformed about whether we need next-generation broadband service or not and this can cause people to reject this kind of service. This was something I had observed through a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in Sydney and heard a lot of this talk through the Sydney commercial talkback radio. He has asked me whether we really need the NBN or not and what costs would be borne by us when we sign up to the service. Here I raised issues like NBN being a carrier for IPTV-based pay-TV as a key needs-driver; as well as the issue of free “to-the-door” cable like with telephony for urban areas.
I have been observing the UK and France situation where there has been real Internet-service competition including some fibre-based next-generation-broadband rollouts. In the UK, there have been the likes of Gigaclear running next-generation FTTP broadband to various villages which I have covered regularly on HomeNetworking01.info. As well, I have observed France’s highly-competitive Internet services, including the use of infrastructure competition (zones dégroupée for ADSL and multifibre FTTH for next-generation broadband). Some of these deployments also have had local-government financial assistance as well as, in some cases national or EU financial assistance.
Sometimes it is hard to sort out the real information from the rhetoric and this can be of concern for the consumer or small business owner who is thinking of a future-proof Internet service for their needs/
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thinkbroadband :: Scilly Isles to benefit from fibre link and better broadband
From the horse’s mouth
Scilly Isles in Cornwall, United Kingdom is now to benefit from reliable real broadband thanks to a fibre-optic backhaul.
Previous, the inhabitants were serviced by a wireless link between Land’s End and the islands as their Internet backhaul. But reliability could be an issue due to the nature of radio links and this backhaul would not yield enough bandwidth for all the residents and businesses on those islands.
Here, the Superfast Cornwall initiative which facilitated this link made use of undersea “dark fibre” (unused fibre-optic links) that went out to the Atlantic Ocean to steer the Internet link to these islands. They intend to have the service up and running by 2014.
Like a lot of these broadband-improvement efforts, this one is a public-private partnership with the European Regional Development Initiative and Cornwall Council putting their hands to the plough.
I also see this as opening up better pathos for people at the southern tip of England to benefit from the real fast broadband, whether you work or retire there. It could also allow for some form of financial regeneration to occur in these areas.
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Few NBN customers report higher bills after switch | The Age (Australia)
There is a key issue being hammered out concerning the National Broadband Network, especially by the Federal Opposition and, to some extent, Sydney’s talkback radio hosts. It is where signing on to NBN ultra-fast broadband Internet service is going to lead to fixed-line Internet bills that are more expensive than with a legacy ADSL or cable service?
The article suggested that the costs would be the same or cheaper than the legacy Internet service. One situation that could cause this to happen is that a customer who moves on to National Broadband Network may use this as a chance to “right-size” their Internet-service package to their use. This can extend to the reality with most of these services that are sold by “data allowance” where people purchase more than they really use so they can create a buffer for sudden usage spikes. This also allows the customer to end up with a predictable bill that they can budget for.
Similarly, IP telephony including Skype, works as a cost-saver because you could effectively place long-distance calls for “pennies’ worth” or more likely for free, compared to paying an expensive bill for these calls. This includes the ability to have FM-radio-grade voice telephony on these connections as well as videocalls of the science-fiction calibre.
I also wouldn’t put it past the retail NBN carriers to follow France’s example and sell n-play service with broadband Internet, telephony, pay TV amongst other services on the one competitively-priced package. But on the other hand, could we be seeing more of the “over-the-top” telephony and TV services being used with the National Broadband Network?
Sometimes we have to sort out the reality from the rhetoric concerning the next-generation broadband Internet services and pay attention to other larger countries who are operating these services already.
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NBN Co, strata tie-up to ease fibre into unit blocks – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
From the horse’s mouth
Strata Community Australia
Registration Page (work in progress, check back regularly)
A typical strata-titled apartment block
There is action taking place to make it easier for strata-based multi-dwelling buildings to connect to the National Broadband Network. Primarily this is where each unit (flat, home unit, office suite, shop, etc) is owned by an individual who either occupies it or leases it out, but the building is ran by a “body corporate” or “owners’ committee”.
At the moment, where there is National Broadband Network constactivity in your area, someone representing the “body corporate” has to register the multi-unit development with the NBN in order to have it prepared for this technology.
There isn’t the opportunity for a “body corporate” to register their development ahead of time in order to have the arrangement in place. If this existed, it could allow the “body corporate” to plan well ahead for equipping their building with NBN fibre-optic cabling.
Why show interest in setting up that building for NBN?
Whether you are a resident of an apartment in one of these buildings or are a member of a body corporate / owners’ committee for that strata-title development, you may have doubts about the relevance of the National Broadband Network to your building.
The National Broadband Network is relevant to the online lives of those of us who live or work in these buildings. This fibre-optic next-generation network provides a data bandwidth that is higher than what we normally have for an ADSL-based or cable-modem-based broadband service.
This can underscore the ability for most of us to work from home or have a real business-grade broadband service which can do more at our office suite or shop. As well, the broadband Internet service is becoming the sole path for communications and entertainment data with such things as VoIP (including Skype), IPTV (including video-on-demand / catch-up TV) and Internet radio / music-streaming services.
What happens after you register the building?
When the NBN start working in your building’s area
The legal owner or strata manager for the building will receive contact from NBN to verify the registration for this work.
After this is done, the residents or occupants will receive a mail drop in their letterboxes regarding the NBN work.
One strata manager, the Strata Management Group recommend that a body-corporate should convene a special meeting about the NBN when they receive this initial contact. This can make the whole of the body corporate aware of what is going on and how it concerns the building. This can include issues like awareness of ducting and conduits that are already used to channel telephone and other low-voltage cabling, wiring closets or equipment rooms where the NBN equipment can exist and where the service demarcation points for the apartments should be. This is also the time to identify the body-corporate representative who will liaise with the NBN through the installation phase.
As well, I would suggest that you look through articles and videos published on the Internet from Europe and other countries where fibre-optic broadband deployments have taken place to see how apartment blocks and similar buildings have been wired up for this new technology.
There will be further contact with the body-corporate representative with a letter that outlines the inspection and installation activities
These will encompass the drafting of the layout for the fibre-optic wiring with an initial survey of the building. Here, they should look for any plenums or ducts that are being used to run telephony, TV-aerial, cable-TV or similar wiring and, if possible make use of these spaces.
Then the NBN crew will pull the fibre from the street to a connection box outside each unit / apartment. Here, you may have to have the occupants aware of the technicians working through the building especially in relation to safety. This is more so with elderly people or parents with young children. As well, it is also worth identifying whether the technicians need to be in any apartments while pulling through common fibre-optic cabling. This issue may be of concern with access to the apartment as well as assuring the occupants of their privacy.
In this phase, the NBN service will be switched on from the street in to the common wiring infrastructure. The residents or occupants will receive in their letterboxes a mail drop about the availability of National Broadband Network service in their building, with advice to contact their preferred service provider to sign up for service.
When the resident orders the next-generation broadband service, NBN will send technicians to wire up service within the apartment / unit and install the ONT (fibre-optic modem).
At this time, I would recommend that the “body corporate” supplies further information to the residents or occupants about what the NBN next-generation broadband is about as part of the regular newsletter or magazine.
This includes awareness that the ADSL modem-router or cable-modem-router won’t be of use anymore unless it has Ethernet broadband connectivity. Here, the residents or occupants connect to Internet using a broadband router that has Ethernet WAN/Internet connection with this connection plugged in to the optical network terminal provided as part of the NBN install.
This article will make you, whether as an occupant of a flat or a member of a body-corporate, aware about having that multi-unit development set up for the next-generation broadband Internet service that is the NBN.
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