Local Government to become an Internet provider option in Australia

Article

Watch out Optus and Telstra: local councils want to become NBN internet providers | The Age

My Comments

Tree on a country property

Local government could also improve the reality of proper broadband in the country

As the Australian National Broadband Network’s technology option changes towards something akin to BT Openreach in the UK which is based around a fibre-copper technology, another option for service provision is creeping in to the equation.

This is where some local councils are stepping in to become local retail Internet service providers with the NBN as a wholesale backbone. This kind of practice has been tried in Australia for some utilities normally sold by a larger government-owned or privately-owned entity that has a larger geographic remit. An example of this is the retail-level sale of electricity to the consumer by some local councils or entities ran by these local councils, one of which was the former City of Box Hill in Melbourne.

As far as Internet service is concerned, some local governments have provided free-access Wi-Fi hotzones in their towns’ central-business-districts in the USA. This was much to the ire of established incumbent telecommunications providers and cable-TV companies who see this “threatening their patch”. It also raised the ire of Republicans, especially those supporting the “Tea Party” agenda, along with various libertarian and pro-business think-tanks because this was appearing to be government having a strong hand in the provision of public Internet service.

Some people can easily see this as a “do-good” effort by local government to raise the digital-access standards in their neighbourhoods of remit such as by, for example, using council rates to cross-subsidise the prices charged to householders for the communications services. This could be targeted at households who are on limited means like pensioners or people looking for work, or could be targeted at community organisations and small businesses that the council is nurturing.

House that may be fixed up

Local government being involved with providing Internet could raise the value of a neighbourhood

Similarly, the councils could use their power as retail ISPs to pay the NBN to equip neighbourhoods with fibre-to-the-premises or equip rural settlements or townships not considered large enough to equip with a fibre-copper service with one of these services. This would be part of their effort to invest in their cities and towns by raising the bar for Internet service in these areas, thus bringing in one or more valuable employers or raising residential property values.  This same effort could also be about making it harder for NBN or a retail carrier or ISP to postpone setting up a neighbourhood for next-generation Internet because it is on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

To see this work properly, local government has to realise that they will be competing with other retail telecommunications carriers and Internet service providers when reselling consumer and small-business telecommunications and Internet service.

If the idea of a local council obtaining a carrier licence and setting up as an ISP doesn’t play properly, they can do what has been practiced in Europe. This is where local government, along with a local chamber-of-commerce actually pays NBN to install fibre-to-the-premises through the town as a way to raise the property values or draw in the high-value employers.

At least the local government in Australia are seeing the potential that the National Broadband Network has and are looking towards taking it further to improve that town.

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Cumbria to benefit from fibre-optic rural Internet

Articles

Fibre GarDen to Start Community FTTP Broadband “Big Dig” in Cumbria | ISPReview.co.uk

From the horse’s mouth

Digital Dales

Product Page

My Comments

Yorkshire Dales By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Two Yorkshire Dales villages near Cumbria to benefit from real broadband

Another independent rural-broadband campaign is taking place in England to provide fibre-to-the-premises broadband in to some rural communities. This time it is being facilitated by Digital Dales and is to serve Garsdale and Dentdale in Cumbria, just north of the Yorkshire Dales. It, along with Gigaclear’s efforts, seen to be the only two non-BT rural broadband project to be taking place in the UK.

Digital Dales, which is a community-owned cooperative, have raised enough money to commence construction of this infrastructure on the 5th October 2014. In the early days, this enablement project had a bumpy start and was riddled with uncertainty. The funds have been sourced from the Rural Community Broadband Fund which provides money to facilitate real broadband in the country areas, along with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund.

They had achieved the go-ahead for landowners’ properties to have the fibre-optic cable pass through them and the operation will be described as a “Big Dig”.

Once the infrastructure is in place and the service is live, householders will expect to pay GBP£30 / month for 30Mbps or GBP£50 / month for 100Mbps bandwidth. These services will comes with free basic landline telephone service, but the householders can upgrade their phone service to the same standard as BT for GBP£2 – £3 per month extra.

Personally, I would see this as effectively “lighting up” the villages with real broadband which could benefit small businesses, professionals who work from home, the tourism industry amongst other users. It could even allow Garsdale and Dentdale to become more attractive to live in for “tree-changers” as the availability of next-generation broadband is being used to assess a community’s liveability.

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BT to investigate remote-node setups for fibre-copper broadband

Article

First BT Fibre-To-The-Remote-Node FTTrN Broadband Trial Set For Q4 2014 | ISPReview.co.uk

My Comments

British Telecom are trialling in Yorkshire a deployment setup for fibre-copper (FTTC, FTTN, etc) next-generation broadband setups. This is based around a miniature housing containing VDSL2 DSLAMs that can be mounted in smaller locations and able to serve a small number of copper connections.

This system, known as FTTrN (Fibre To The Remote Node) allows for longer fibre runs and can be powered either by the client premises or by a low-power independent power supply like a solar panel or simply neighbouring electrical infrastructure. It is intended to be mounted on telegraph poles, installed in small manholes or integrated in to existing infrastructure in some other way.

This is pitched as an alternative to the street cabinet that is essential to the FTTC (Fibre to the Curb / Fibre To The Cabinet) model because these have costs and installation issues as their baggage. This includes aesthetics and streetscape issues including attractiveness to grafitti vandals as a tagging surface as well as assuring dedicated power-supply availability.

Useful for difficult installations where a street cabinet would be difficult to install – cosmetic issues with large cabinets including attractiveness to grafitti vandals, planning / streetscape integration, dedicated AC power requirements including cabling infrastructure

Personally I would see these setups appeal to fibre-copper setups like “fibre-to-the-node” / “fibre-to-the-distribution-point” where the bridge between fibre-optic infrastructure and copper infrastructure is closer to the customer. They also do appeal as a way to “wire up” remote settlements, estates and hamlets with next-generation broadband in the fibre-copper way while assuring improved throughput.

I do still see these having the same limitations as any fibre-copper setup where the user experience can be impaired by use of poorly-maintained copper infrastructure which would be a common problem with rural installations.

At least BT are trying out a highly-flexible fibre-copper next-generation broadband setup which can also appeal as a tool for supplying real broadband to rural areas especially where there are the remote settlements or estates.

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Deutsche Telekom raises issues about rural broadband in Germany

Articles (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

Telekom will für Breitband-Aufbau Kabelanbieter kaufen | Gizmodo.de

Breitband-Ausbau wird zweistelligen Milliardenbetrag kosten | Der Spiegel

My Comments

Deutsche Telekom logo courtesy of Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom to raise concern about assuring rural broadband coverage in Germany

Deutsche Telekom has been raising concern about assuring that the whole of Germany has access to decent-standard broadband Internet and have been interested in buying in to smaller cable-broadband services in that country to achieve that goal.

But are they the entity who has to carry the burden for rural broadband service, which requires huge investments? This is although they have been previously the government-run monopoly telecommunications operator for Germany.

Here, they were having to need EUR€10 billion to get a broadband service of at least 50Mbps over 90% of Germany with them needing to cover the remote areas which represents 10% for another EUR€15 billion. They also raised the issue of competing services needing federal money to achieve this same goal.

German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Farmhouses in these areas not to be forgotten about for real broadband

I see a reality where no other government or public-private entity is putting their hand up to provide rural broadband in that country. Germany’s political layout with the individual States (Bundesländer), especially the “Area States” (Flächeländer) could put themselves in a better position if the States (Baden-Württenburg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine-Westphalia and co) or subordinate government divisions could underpin the works needed to be done.

This is something that has taken place in some other European countries like the UK and France where local or regional governments put their hand in their pocket for broadband enrichment projects in their territories. This is with a view to seeing investment take place for their areas with a view to attracting major employers like research, education or technology to their areas or to see their local economy on a level or better playing field with other areas.

Similarly, allowing for a truly competitive environment for Internet service where there isn’t favouritism for existing carriers may also be a chance for the other carriers to invest more in to Germany and see all of the nation covered with real broadband.

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Northmoor to achieve Gigabit speeds courtesy of fibre-optic network

Article

PM David Cameron Switches On Gigaclear’s 1Gbps Broadband in Northmoor | ISPReview.co.uk

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear

Press Release

Northmoor community page

My Comments

Another rural neighbourhood in West Oxfordshire has been enabled for Gigabit fibre broadhand courtesy of Gigaclear. This time, it is Northmoor where the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, officially switched on the new fibre-to-the-premises service which covers 500 premises in Northmoor, Moreton and Bablockhythe.

This is a non-BT scheme that is funded by DEFRA as part of a GBP£20m Rural Community Broadband Fund where there is financial assistance from the EU. This public-private project underwent a proper procurement procedure with Gigaclear being the winner of the contract.

Here, it was proven that the fibre-to-the-premises deal had a higher throughput and was more stable than the 80Mbps fibre-to-the-cabinet deal offered by BT.

But Gigaclear offers this service at GBP£37 per month for a 50Mbps to GBP£69 per month for a Gigabit connection, both with “clean feed” parental controls and a Gigabit hub. They also charge GBP£100 for installation. The users benefit form the connection being symmetric for both uploads and downloads along with not needing to pay for BT phone-line rental to have the Internet service.

The Gigaclear PR ran with a comment about a person who was working from home in the neighbourhood but having to go to London to transfer large multimedia files due to the woefully slow connection that existed before. But he is able to stay working in that area and transfer the multimedia very quickly. I also see this benefitting others who think of the country as a place to live or work because of the increase in online services that is taking place.

This is something that shows up that villages in some of the Home Counties could be appealing as places to move to for working from home or for that proverbial “tree-change” as they become wired up for real broadband, especially next-generation broadband.

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Scotland to have rural broadband as part of its USO

Highland Piper Creative Commons http://www.panoramio.com/photo/58988884

A Highland piper will be on a better path with rural broadband being part of an Independent Scotland

Article

UPDATE Independent Scotland Could Gain a USO for Broadband Internet | ISPReview UK

From the horse’s mouth

Scottish Government

Connecting Rural Scotland position paper

My Comments

There is a lot of talk in the UK about Scotland’s push for independence coming through with a referendum occurring on the 18th September 2014. If the vote on this referendum turns out “Yes”, Scotland would become an independent nation rather than part of the United Kingdom which is what true-blooded Scots have been looking forward to since 1603.

Flag_of_Scotland_(navy_blue).svgOne of the issues that will be called as part of an independent Scottish government’s roadmap would be improved rural connectivity. Here, this will encompass access to public transport and proper teleccomunications in areas like the Highlands or Campbelltown.

For that matter, Scotland will integrate real broadband in the country areas as part of the universal service obligation. This is something I stand for with HomeNetworking01.info in order to allow those of us who live, work or do business in the country areas to be on an even footing with those of us who live in the cities. As far as Scotland is concerned, the rural sector is what gives the country its character, especially in the form of the whisky the country is known for or the farms that can turn out the “neeps and tatties” or the meat for the haggis that is to be piped in as part of the Burns supper..

There is a level of public-private investment taking place concerning the provision of rural broadband infrastructure but the integration of Scotland’s broadband projects in the UK efforts will change should the devolution go ahead. There are unanswered questions about issues such as infrastructure technology or minimum assured bandwidth, which may also include issues like dealing with the mountains of the Highlands.

What I at least like about this is that a country that is wanting to start out independently is factoring in rural broadband as part of its road map. Here’s to Scotland for the right direction!

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Underriver to benefit from Gigabit broadband Internet courtesy of Gigaclear

Article

Gigaclear starts installation of its network for Underriver in Kent | ThinkBroadband

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear

Press Release

Product Page – Underriver

My Comments

Underriver, a small affluent village just on the southwest of Sevenoaks in Kent has now started working towards a fibre-based Gigabit next-generation broadband service courtesy of Gigaclear. Like other Gigaclear projects and similar projects, it is more about achieving a value-priced real broadband service to the small towns and villages around the UK.

There is a goal to have the service pass 2000 homes and businesses and is to provide a symmetrical Gigabit broadband service which would please a lot of small businesses, professionals working from home or intending to do so and people who have long-distance relationships. This is because the upload speed is as quick as the download speed which would satisfy cloud-computing needs, online storage, Web content creation, VoIP amongst other needs.

Of course, one of these “fibre-to-the-door” deployments is considered a value-added feature for a premises that is being sold or rented out at a later time. This was something I touched on when RightMove were adding this factor to what their customers were searching on when they were seeking out property to buy.

Who knows what other villages and small towns in the “Garden Of England” could duplicate what is happening up in Underriver?

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NBN to consider FTTN in regional areas

Article

NBN Co ponders rural reversal | The Australian

My Comments

With the NBN considering moving regional areas to Fibre-to-the-node technology, we need to be aware of other similar developments taking place in UK and Germany where similar technology is being deployed for next-generation networks.

Here, we need to know of any deployment mistakes that have been made in these countries and are at risk of being made here. This includes connections that have or are likely to impede operation of the technology as well as catering to the changing landscape that will affect these areas, which is a fact as a town expands and farmland is subdivided for multiple housing projects. It is also why the concept of adaptability is very important when working on a next-generation broadband infrastructure

In the same context, the concept of adaptability  is important as a way to allow customers to buy increased broadband which I would say is important for professionals working from home or if the concept of “fibre to the basement” / “fibre to the building” is to be realised for subsequent multi-tenancy developments that occur in the neighbourhood.

What we need to be sure of for a next-generation broadband service is a competitive highly-adaptive system that can suit the way neighbourhoods change.

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Some more Oxfordshire villages gain real broadband

Artilcle

Gigaclear announces next batch of Oxfordshire villages to get Gigabit | ThinkBroadband

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear

Rollout page – Otmoor

Press Release – Otmoor

My Comments

Gigaclear, whom I have featured on this Website, are working hard and fast on enabling more of the Oxfordshire villages for real broadband. Here, the Otmoor community which is the latest to be targeted with this technology is being set up with fibre-to-the-premises “next-generation broadband” technology.

Here, this community has its wetland and grasslands as its assets being a nature reserve, most likely being of touristic value in some way. But Gigaclear had put the broadband rollout on the map without government assistance and having this become the full symmetric broadband courtesy of the fibre-optic technology.

When I read the ThinkBroadband article, there was a comment about Gigaclear focusing their efforts on the small upmarket Oxfordshire villages rather than the “real” rural areas in the UK. But the “real” rural areas could approach Gigaclear to cover them by visiting this page and not “giving up” with them if they are turned down. There is still the issue of high-speed Internet being of importance for professionals working from home along with small businesses where online competitiveness is still valued.

Of course, a question that may be always raised with these broadband rollouts is catering to the larger properties be they estates with a large house and a handful of cottages or smaller houses or simply small or large farms that are colocated to the villages. Issues that may be raise include whether a fibre rollout may be extended to a cluster of neighbouring large properties or not.

Similarly, if Gigaclear “conquered” a larger area of Oxfordshire or a similar area, could they be seen to be in a position of influence by providing the high-speed broadband for that area?

At least the Gigaclear effort is taking place to make sure that rural communities, which are also being seen as urban outposts or venues for “tree-changes”, as viable locations for proper Internet service.

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You live in an outer-urban area and find you have unreliable Internet connections. What do you do?

I have covered the issue of substandard and unreliable fixed-broadband Internet connections in rural and outer-urban areas on HomeNetworking01.info before, based on experience with people who have had this kind of situation occur to them.

In these situations, a customer may find that they have very reduced bandwidth especially abnormally low bandwidth. On the other hand, the Internet connection becomes increasingly unreliable with it dropping out or taking too long to establish. The latter situation may be typically in the form of the SYNC or LINK light flashing or off or, in some cases this light glows and the INTERNET or CONNECTION light flashes, indicating Internet connection trouble.

For some home users who use the Internet for personal use, it is so easy to give up on the service due to this unreliability. But you shouldn’t simply give up on this service.

What you can do

Here, you contact the ISP’s or telecommunication company’s customer-service department preferably by phone and report this fault. Even if it “comes good”, it is worth keeping the ISP’s customer service “in the loop” about when the service comes good or not.

Keeping a record of when the failures or inconsistencies in the Internet service’s performance occurs may also help the ISP has a fair idea of what was going on. This is important with ADSL services and similar services where another company like an incumbent telco manages the infrastructure. It also is a way of identifying if a failure or substandard performance occurred in conjunction with particular weather conditions such as rainfall, which gives the game away with failing connections between the exchange and your premises.

As well, identify where the point of demarcation for your service is, which delineates where the service provider’s point of responsibility is when providing the service. In most ADSL services, the first telephone socket which may be in the hall or kitchen; or the provider-supplied splitter may be the point of demarcation. Here, you can know if the failure was with equipment and accessories you own or not.

If your hear your neighbours moan about substandard broadband Internet performance, ask them to join forces with you and keep a record of when they were affected. This could be a situation concerning the old or decrepit infrastructure. Other stakeholders that are worth talking to are shopkeepers and other small business owners whom you deal with because they may be facing similar problems.

The issue that typically occurs with ADSL providers is that they blame the customer’s equipment because they find that the modem at their end is still good. They don’t realise that the infrastructure between the exchange and the customer’s premises may be at fault. This typically is where the service is “good enough” for voice telephony but will not perform for ADSL broadband Internet as highlighted in the article. Here, you may have to draw this to your ISP’s customer service department that they need to pay attention to this wiring.

As I have mentioned before in the article, the situation that commonly plagues the telephone wiring infrastructure in rural and outer-urban areas is that there is a lot of old and decrepit infrastructure in these areas. When ADSL is provided in these areas, the work may be just done at the exchange as the DSLAM modems are installed in the exchange. But the infrastructure isn’t assessed properly for points of failure as part of the installation in normal circumstances. Similarly, the telephony infrastructure may not be upgraded when the town becomes enveloped in a metropolis.

Further action

This may only occur for a town’s business area or if a major employer sets up shop in the neighbourhood. It would also happen for services affected by a disaster evebt or by damage that affects a particular line like a tree falling across that line. But this activity should be a chance for all telephone customers in the town to have their lines assessed for proper ADSL service whether they are starting broadband service using that technology or not.

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