If Australians had to choose between an FTTH network, or an FTTN network, the considerations should be looking both into the long term speed advantage, as well as into the short and medium term damage to competition that could be caused.

If we went with an FTTN network, speeds would improve to many users, but, such improvements depending on technology used, would be in the area of marginal, to pretty average.

Such as, if they went with ADSL2+, the improvement to many lines might not be significant enough to realise any additional internet computing power, unless of course one household had such a high demand for bandwidth they should be on ethernet anyway- unrealistic.

The average home user, professional, or noob, should find ADSL2+ plenty fast enough, and providing a great speed service.

The FTTN network has an advantage of delivering speeds of around 20Mbps to areas which are getting 10Mbps (ie. Double), and to others, take 8Mbps and turn it to 15Mbps. This is a pretty good increase, but I think you can ask many, many users that they don’t find they need a peak 8Mbps on a continuous basis, so, the speed increase from 10Mbps to 20Mbps (or 8 to 16), probably will not go overly used.

The other aspect of FTTN is, once the node is in the way of the customer lines, depending on who does it and node setup, customers either will or won’t be able to receive DSL based services from the exchange, presenting a big problem for competition.

Prices won’t be able to be maintained so they aren’t competitive, simply because the infrastructure in place makes it not possible for a user to get past and get competitive access.

The other issue presented, is that FTTN is only a stepping stone, the next path is FTTH, and the network built by FTTN, will no doubt become the FTTH network purely due to strategic position and cheapest cost to build.

So, FTTN delivers minimal to the majority (sorry to those on the outskirts, you are a minority, I’m sure), and disadvantages that same majority. It provides a minor advantage to some in a minority, but overall, is a significant disadvantage (depending on technology used and deployment plan).

FTTH is just FTTN, but good, and bad at the same time.

Take FTTN, and place a single fibre cable into everyones house. The only supplier of that cable is the only supplier capable of servicing that premises, primarily due to the lack of any investment by anyone else to drill more cables in the ground (and the complete disapproval of many local governments too).

So, FTTH is likely ever going to be 1 network, meaning whoever builds an FTTH network will be wholesaling to others.

The problem with that model is, as can be seen from Telstra, it’s far too open to abuse, and requires a lot of costly regulation at the expense of the taxpayer. Our taxes go to keeping companies like Telstra in control. The dollars there are better spent fixing the roads so that I don’t have to count the potholes, or, better spent on reducing debt, and better spent on educating instead of speed cameras, but that’s off topic.

Essentially, FTTH is something that needs to sit on the backburner, just like FTTN, both are inappropriate for consideration at this time, and instead, we should find out what technologies will keep us up to speed.

We could deploy a national FTTN network, but in 20 years time or so, it’s just going to get pulled apart to make room for the FTTH network.

All the while, the only decrease in prices will more than likely be introduced due to increased international cable capacity, and have little, if anything, to do with the local network changes.

We need to see what and where wireless will go, we need to see if DSL can get any better, we need to see if there is a better way. FTTN just means “Flap Telstra’s Terrible Network” – no, I don’t believe that’s G9’s internal codename for FTTN.

WiMAX has potential, and DSL technologies do too, FTTN on the other hand has a disadvantage, and little advantage, except for delivering those DSL technologies.

WiMAX is competitor friendly, so allows price innovation.
FTTN is not competitor friendly, and forces prices up.
FTTH is not competitor friendly, and forces prices EVEN higher.

A new network isn’t going to get our OECD rankings up, sure, we’ll jump in speed, but the price increase for the new network will affect us significantly, that it won’t be worth a gain (we may even go backwards).

The best move will be to encourage uptake of faster plans, ban 256k services full stop, and place pressure on prices at various points, such as domestic connectivity, domestic networking, and international networking.

Put pressure on those and the few core elements of a internet service are dropped in price causing price drops and innovation simply takes over naturally there, just ask iiNet.


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