Recently, Radio Bay FM in Geelong broadcast an interview about Spirit Telecom setting up shop in this regional boom-city. Here, Roxie Bennett interviewed Spirit Telecom’s managing director Geoff Neate about the pending arrival of their independent infrastructure setup as part of her lifestyle segment broadcast.
Spirit Telecom ahs been established since 2005 and has provided infrastructure-level competition for broadband Internet service in some of Melbourne’s inner neighbourhoods. Here, households and businesses who sign up with Spirit have access to simultaneous ultra-high-speed bandwidth thanks to use of Ethernet cabling within the buildings and a fibre-optic network for the last-mile connection to the building.
But Spirit is intending to roll this infrastructure out to Geelong with the first development that will benefit being the Federal Mills regional technology hub, an example of the new economic direction for that city. Let’s not forget that Geelong is starting to take on high-rise development within its CBD, which could open the door for Spirit Telecom to wire up the new developments for Ethernet-based FTTB next-generation broadband. It is in conjunction with Spirit Telecom’s other efforts to reach other Australian cities to provide developers, building owners and businesses a viable high-quality alternative to the NBN.
This broadcast is a sign of the times because it has highlighted the slowpoke effort that NBN has taken with providing a reliable next-generation broadband service in most of built-up Australia. There was even an on-air “dig” cast at NBN because of the delay in rolling out broadband in to that city.
Personally, I see Spirit Telecom’s effort in running their own infrastructure and high-quality next-generation broadband Internet as something that will “put a rocket up” NBN to roll out infrastructure in to that city/
The B4RN effort is a successful rural broadband effort that relies on community effort to bring FTTP all-fibre broadband to villages within the UK countryside. This has initially taken off within the North of England but is also taking off in Lancashire and a few other rural communities there.
What has been happening in some of the B4RN areas is that the UK’s “broadband establishment” namely Openreach have been building out infrastructure in to those areas to compete with these efforts. This has led to some overbuild taking place at the hands of Openreach which has opened up the possibility of competitive Internet service taking place in those areas.
But this time it is to expand in to rural East Anglia. Initially B4RN instigated an effort to create a fibre backbone from Telehouse North to Lowestoft by leasing some dark-fibre infrastructure. The first building to benefit will be Scole Community Centre, which most likely will be used as a public-awareness “launchpad” for B4RNorfolk’s effort along wiht serving as a core node for the network as what a lot of village halls do in the B4RN networks.
Some of this effort will overbuild established Openreach infrastructure but this will provide some level of competition in the affected communities. Let’s not forget that the kind of broadband service is symmetrical Gigabit fibre-to-the-premises Internet which will place “established” providers on notice.
It is another effort by the full-fibre networks that service rural areas to raise the bar for real broadband in that kind of market.
Chorus, New Zealand’s broadband infrastructure provider, highlighted why their fibre-to-the-premises broadband setup has been designed to be future-proof.
Here, they highlighted the time when New Zealand acquired colour television and households were getting their claws on to one of the new colour TV sets that were being released. This was concurrent with the 1974 Commonwealth Games being hosted in Christchurch, New Zealand and the Kiwis were wanting to watch this event in living colour. Then they highlighted the up-and-coming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with the possibility of it being delivered using 8K UHDTV technology thanks to NHK in Japan being able to deliver 8K UHDTV broadcast feeds to broadcasters who have local rights to the event.
But they were mentioning about the feasibility of upgrading their infrastructure from 1Gbps to 10Gbps. They are prototyping such a setup in their Auckland-based Chorus Fibre Experience Lab but came across with the fact that it would only require replacement of the electronics at each end of the connection.
This would be the optical-network terminal in their exchange or street cabinet and the optical-network terminal in your home that connects between the optical fibre and your router’s WAN (Internet) socket. At the time that 10Gbps fibre-optic connectivity is needed, newer and better routers would be offered with a 10Gbps Ethernet connection of some sort on the WAN side, in addition to LAN-side wired and wireless connectivity that suits these expectations. If the exchange-side setup is totally modular, it could allow for a gradual service upgrade initially to those who are after that bandwidth like business users or “tech-head” early adopters.
Some other areas like Hong Kong, Norway, Qatar, and South Korea are dabbling with the 10Gbps fibre-optic idea and offering it as a service. Mostly this is offered by the local ISPs as a premium or business-class service.
But Chorus and other FTTP providers can see other upgrade paths for their fibre-optic services without the need to replace the optical fibre. Here, they could convert from passive-optical-network architecture to active-optical-network architecture to provide full bandwidth to each premises. It also allows the infrastructure to support full quality-of-service for real-time applications like online gaming, IP telephony or video streaming as well as a highly-flexible service for households and businesses.
Chorus are also underscoring the reality that there will be more Internet traffic over their infrastructure especially with the smart home and the Internet Of Things. This is more so if these devices become dependent on cloud services and provide frequently-updated data.
Here, what is being highlighted is the use of futureproof technologies that can allow for long-term investment in the same infrastructure and an upgrade path that costs relatively little to implement.
County Broadband are a wireless ISP who are offering improved Internet service across most of rural Cambridgeshire and East Anglia in the UK. But they have decided to run a 1Gbps fibre-to-the-premises service in Broughton, Cambridgeshire as a proving ground for deploying this technology in rural villages.
This is similar to the efforts that Gigaclear, B4RN and other small-time rural ISPs are undertaking to enable real broadband expectations in other parts of rural England. In this case it is to provide a viable alternative to substandard ADSL service that may not have a chance of hitting the headline 2Mbps speed thanks to the typically decrepit telephony infrastructure that these areas end up with.
They are announcing the impending arrival of this service through a village hall meeting for the townsfolk on the 4th of August 2017. The ISPReview article raised issues about poor-quality service with BT Openreach saying on their Website that the local street cabinet was mad ready for fibre but this installation was found to be located 3 miles or 4.828 km away from Broughton, without the likelihood of delivering high-speed broadband to that town.
That article also said that, like what has happened in other British rural areas, larger companies would “wake up and smell the bacon” with the intent to service those areas because of the small-time operators offering next-generation Internet in to those areas thus leading to infrastructure-level competition. Of course, there is also the fact that as the town grows, more retail-level ISPs could be offering to use the infrastructure to service that neighbourhood along with mobile telephony providers using the same infrastructure to provide an improved cellular mobile telephony service for that area.
But I also see this as being of benefit to the householders and businesses who want to benefit from what a high-speed Internet connection offers. This is more so where small businesses see the cloud as a way of allowing them to grow up such as for a shop to move from the old cash register towards a fully-electronic POS system as part of “growing up”, or for the hospitality trade to benefit from offering high-speed Wi-Fi Internet as a marketable amenity.
For County Broadband to provide the FTTP fibre-optic infrastructure to Broughton as a proving ground could lead them to better paths for rural broadband improvement. This could mean something like more villages and small towns in East Anglia being wired for next-generation future-proof Internet and perhaps making that area an extension of the Silicon Fen.
G.Fast could be the next step for DSL-based fibre-copper broadband setups
There is a newer iteration of the DSL physical-loop network connection standards that has shown up on the scene lately. It is known as G.Fast and is intended for fibre-copper layouts that encompass a longer fibre run from the exchange or central office.
This is an improvement over the VDSL2 family of standards currently used for fibre-copper setups where there is a longer copper run, such as “fibre-to-the-node” or “fibre-to-the-cabinet” setups. What it is capable of is a bandwidth up to a Gigabit / second over a 500 metre copper run.
It could be about fibre to the front yard here
What has happened lately is that a compatibility-testing regime for this standard has been launched thanks to a number of laboratories who are undertaking these tests. As well, it is being put on the map as far as a copper-based last-mile communications standard goes.
or high-speed fibre to the basement in these apartment blocks
There is interest in this technology for use as part of next-generation broadband setups where fibre and copper are used in the link, but it is targeted towards relatively-short copper runs.
Examples of these are:
fibre-to-the-distribution-point / fibre-to-the-curb – where the DSLAM modem is installed in a distribution point or frame that serves a street and, perhaps, some cul-de-sac courts
fibre-to-the-front-yard / fibre-to-the-frontage – where the DSLAM modem is located outside a single-occupancy property and just serves that property, or a DSLAM is set up to serve a small group of terrace houses or a small strip of shops.
fibre-to-the-building / fibre-to-the-basement – a setup used with multiple-occupancy buildings with the DSLAM equipment installed in a wiring closet or equipment room within the building and telephone cabling used between the equipment room and the individual premises.
Some of these deployments that serve few premises permit the use of a single-premises DSLAM box that is the size of a shoehox or, more realistically, one of those “shoebox-form” cassette recorders prevalent through the 1970s as an entry-level cassette recorder. This can be installed in an access pit or attached to a telegraph pole and could be “reverse powered” by the subscriber’s modem or a power injector installed on the subscriber’s premises.
The advantage being pitched is that a subscriber can head to “next-generation” Internet even if they are in a predicament that restricts or prohibits the deployment of new street-premises wiring infrastructure. This could range from brick or stone houses where it is costly in time and money to pull new wiring, through the desire to preserve a carefully-landscaped garden, to tenants who have to seek their landlord’s permission to install infrastructure, along with being sure someone is home to supervise the technicians installing the infrastructure.
Let’s not forget that a fibre-to-the-distribution-point setup or a fibre-to-the-building setup can also be ready for Gigabit broadband once G.Fast is implemented. There may also be the idea of using these DSLAMs as part of level-based telecommunications infrastructure in the high-rise buildings to assure high bandwidth across the development.
At the moment, G.Fast service customers will need to be supplied with a G.Fast DSL modem which they connect to their broadband router’s Ethernet WAN socket and the telephone line. This will happen as part of signing up to these next-generation Internet services that use that technology. But very soon it will lead towards the arrival of a subsequent generation of DSL modem routers that are equipped with a G.Fast / VDSL2+ / ADSL2+ modem as a WAN (Internet) connection option.
G.Fast will end up being suitable for population-dense urban areas being served by a fibre-optic next-generation broadband service as long as the copper cable run goes as far as the street.
While the NBN are taking things slowly to roll out next-generation broadband Internet in to Australian communities and providing most with a fibre-copper service, the UK are facing a similar problem.
Most of urban Britain are being provisioned with similar fibre-copper next-generation broadband service, typically “fibre-to-the-cabinet” with a copper VDSL2 link between the street cabinet and the customer’s door. This is while a handful of ISPs and infrastructure providers like Gigaclear, Cityfibre and Hyperoptic are running fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband infrastructure, whether to country properties or large urban developments.
But a lot of telcos and ISPs are using the word “fibre” as part of hawking their next-generation broadband Internet product, while it is seen as a keyword by the marketers to say that the service will provide higher bandwidth to the customer than what was normally expected. This is although they are running a fibre-copper Internet service in most of their territories.
What is being raised is how should a broadband service be qualified in relationship to its infrastructure when the service is advertised to the public. It isn’t just about whether a service implements fibre to the premises or not, but how much of the run between the exchange or head-end and the customer’s premises is being covered by a fibre link.
There has to be distinct keywords to say that a service is being provided “fibre-to-the-premises”, a “majority-fibre” service like fibre-to-the-building or fibre-to-the-distribution-point, or a “minority-fibre” service like fibre-to-the-cabinet. Other issues that need to be raised is whether a service is being delivered with symmetrical (upload / download) bandwidth or is an “exclusive bandwidth” service like active fibre where each customer gets the full contracted bandwidth rather than facing bandwidth contention.
What Gigaclear and co are raising is that customers need to know what they are able to get when they sign up for a next-generation broadband Internet service or other advanced telecommunications service.
Soundbars and TV speaker bases are becoming an increasingly-valid path for improving your TV’s sound because they provide the sound through just one box, perhaps along with a subwoofer enclosure. This is because the typical flat-panel TV is becoming more slim but doesn’t have much thought put in to its sound quality and most of us want to hear our shows through something a bit better than that.
As I mentioned in another article on this topic, they will appeal to people who have their TV set up in the traditional manner with it being in the corner of the lounge so as to avoid it competing with the view offered by a feature window or fireplace. They also will appeal to those of us who like our music via a dedicated stereo system with its own speakers, something that is considered to be important thanks to the “back to basics back to vinyl” trend.
In some countries where there is a competitive market for “triple-play” Internet service or subscription-based TV service, the features that a set-top box or PVR offers are seen as a selling point for each of the service providers. As well, most of these telcos or pay-TV providers want to be in a position to upsell customers to better services.
This has led Netgem, a French set-top-box designer to offer to these providers a device which has a soundbar and set-top box in the one housing. It will have the ability to work with a variety of online video and music services and can be controlled by the traditional remote control or a smartphone app. But this box is also being equipped with Amazon Alexa support which allows it to work in a similar vein to the Amazon Echo wireless speaker. The Amazon Alexa agent will also learn media-navigation skills pertaining to this device so you simply can select what you want to watch by voice.
Philips achieved a similar goal by offering a soundbar with an integrated Blu-Ray player, 2-band (FM / Internet) radio and network media player in order to provide a soundbar equivalent to the “home theatre in a box” systems.
The idea behind this box is to allow a telco or pay-TV provider to provide a device that is better than usual to differentiate itself from the others. This is more so where they are focused on selling a “solution” rather than selling a product or service. In most cases, it could be seen simply as an optional device that customers can request rather than as the standard device for a premium package. It is because there will be some customers who will have their own soundbar or home-theatre setup as the way to improve their TV’s sound and simply want a set-top box as the gateway to an IPTV service.
As well, implementing HDMI-ARC, DLNA MediaRenderer, AirPlay / Google Cast playback and similar functionality cam make sure that this device can earn its keep as part of your networked personal A/V setup.
What is showing up is that, especially in Europe’s competitive markets like France, there is a strong interest amongst whoever is offering triple-play broadband service to provide something that offers that bit extra.
Recently, at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, some of the major home-network hardware providers offered distributed Wi-Fi network setups which provide a simplified method to improve your home network’s Wi-Fi wireless coverage.
D-Link Covr router and wireless extender package – could be offered by your ISP or telco
These have been offered either in a mesh-based setup or as a “router and extender” setup with simplified setup and operation procedures. The mesh setup creates a wireless backbone mesh between each of the “nodes” in such a way that any node can obtain a strong high-throughput signal from two other nodes and there is a failover process where if one node is out-of-action, other nodes can keep the coverage going. On the other hand, a “router and extender” setup works like most of the wireless extenders on the market but implements a simplified setup and roaming experience between the router and extenders.
Some of the distributed Wi-Fi network setups also allow for the use of a wired backbone which can cater for difficult wireless-network situations, multiple building setups or even as a robust high-throughput option.
There has been a need for these setups thanks to increased streaming of video content like Netflix along with heavy use of highly-portable computer devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones. But the typical Wi-Fi setup ends up being compromised by many different situations such as routers being installed at one end of the premises, the use of dense or metallic building materials in our houses and apartments or even “white goods” or metallic furniture like filing cabinets installed in a cluster against interior walls. As well, the existence of multiple Wi-Fi networks in a neighbourhood can make things works.
But there are some telcos, cable-TV providers and Internet service providers are offering distributed wireless setups as an extra-cost option for all of their customers, and / or as “part of the package” for their top-shelf packages. This kind of service is also of interest to other ISPs who are wanting to offer that more value to their customers, and is in response to complaints that customers aren’t benefiting from the headline or contracted bandwidth at their devices especially when they are using the Wi-Fi wireless network.
Examples of this are Singtel in Singapore, and Midco (Midcontinent Communications) in the USA are offering a distributed Wi-FI system as their “premium Wi-Fi” option offered as an extra-cost option while Waoo in Denmark are offering it at no extra cost to subscribers who take up their premium Internet packages that they offer with it available for extra cost for people who subscribe to the cheaper packages.
Here, the distributed Wi-Fi setup would be part of the modem-router normally offered as customer-premises equipment with it being managed and serviced by the ISP. Some of these setups also have TV set-top boxes that also work as access points or as part of the mesh ecosystem, typically using a wired (MoCA, HomePlug AV500) or wireless backhaul. There may also be the use of dedicated access-point nodes around the premises to provide the extra reach to the other areas.
The ISPs are, at the moment, seeing this as leading towards increased customer satisfaction due to the increased stability and throughput realised at the end devices. It is also seen as being equivalent to cable-TV services where customers rent a PVR-based set-top box, because such customers see this as being better value for money therefore less likely to walk away from the service.
Hyperoptic are one of the Internet service / last-mile infrastructure providers operating in the UK who are providing next-generation Internet service to particular communities there in a manner where they compete with established Internet infrastructure providers like Openreach. Here, they have been focusing on apartment towers in most of the UK’s major cities and have even gone as far to provide this service to one of London’s marinas. They were even known to provide “month-by-month” Internet service to people who weren’t likely to be occupying an apartment for the year due to such realities like business placement.
This time, they have broken from their mould by installing FTTP infrastructure and providing next-generation Internet service to a housing estate in Welwyn Garden City, one of London’s commuter towns based in Hertfordshire. The new-build housing estate, known as Bellway at QEII and built where the QEII hospital used to exist, has been established by Bellway homes and consists of traditional standalone homes along with some apartments and “coach houses” (apartments built on top of one or more garages), with the property count coming to 163 premises. The typical price being put up is around GBP£319,995 for a two-bedroom coach house to GBP£484,995 for a four-bedroom house,
But Hyperoptic have put the hand up for the Internet service that will be available at this development by offering the service as a fibre-to-the-premises kind, where they can offer a double-play Internet and landline telephone service. This is a symmetrical service with the Internet connection being up to 1Gbps bandwidth. Here, Bellway have found that access to very-high-speed reliable broadband Internet is considered by potential homebuyers and renters as important as access to good schools and transport infrastructure.
New homeowners will be offered a free trial service of up to 1Gbps Internet and phone service that provides free evening and weekend calls for the first three months. This is compared to the meagre offering of a 20Mbps package offered as the trial package.
With landline phone
First 12 months
First 12 months
Broadband-only consumers will be paying a GBP£40 connection fee, but all users will have a 12 month minimum-term contract and will be supplied with a wireless router for their home network and benefit from unlimited “all-you-can-eat” Internet usage and 24/7 support. Personally, Bellway could come to the party in a better way by offering people buying the new-built homes the ability to have their home wired for Ethernet as a deal-making option for their home-building package, with at least a data socket in the living room and the home office.
This isn’t the only “conventional house” development on a large block of land that is benefiting from Hyperoptic’s fibre-to-the-premises effort. They are looking towards knocking on developers’ doors around the UK and competing against BT, Virgin Media & co to “wire-up” new-build developments of this kind in the UK with fibre-optic Internet.
Here, it is one of the examples of where other companies “go it alone” to provide better Internet service in to neighbourhoods even if the main service provider like NBN or Openreach works at a snail’s pace to provide the same level of service.
Personally, I wouldn’t put it past someone like TPG to approach developers who are building “conventional house” residential developments and offer more than what NBN are willing to provide.
A highly-politicised National Broadband Network deployment in Australia, which has led to the slow rollout of its services across most of Australia’s urban areas has brought on the arrival of infrastructure-level competition.
Fiber Corp, a Sydney-based fibre-optic infrastructure company backed by veteran food-industry business and turf identity Nicholas Moraitis who owned the 1997 Melbourne Cup winner “Might And Power”, has started to offer their own competing infrastructure to multiple-occupancy building developments in central Sydney and Mascot. Their infrastructure is based on fibre-to-the-premises implementing Gigabit PON and NG-PON technology capable of offering up to 10Gbps but is being deployed with a similar business attitude to TPG’s infrastructure efforts. Here it is about the “best bang for the buck” where you are thinking about a high-quality service at an affordable price.
It will take advantage of the recent liberalisation of the infrastructure market that allows multiple retail ISPs to compete on the same physical infrastructure, but will be architected to allow small-time and startup operators on to the infrastructure at a cheap price.
Although Fiber Corp is focusing on the larger multi-occupant developments, they have had attracted interest from some of the local councils who are frustrated with the rollout delays associated with the NBN service.
Joel Clarke, Fiber Corp’s CIO, is pushing for a better “NBN levy” scheme for financing rural broadband rollouts. Here, he wants to see that all of the compliant and participating infrastructure providers are seen as part of a larger logical NBN rather than just the infrastructure provided by NBN Co. It will also require NBN Co to be aggregated to offset all additional costs to wholesalers, retail ISPs and consumers. Otherwise, this levy will simply be seen as a tax upon competing infrastructure providers, making it harder for them to do business.
It also includes the requirement to allow any retail ISP to connect to any infrastructure and offer their service to every customer endpoint. This would allow for customers to benefit from a wider choice of Internet service providers and permit the existence of boutique service providers on the infrastructure.