Thinking about each technology, the advantages and disadvantages of each are pretty obvious:
FTTN (fibre to the node) works by moving the exchange, closer to the home.
All of Australia’s telephone exchanges are connected to each other with backhaul, in the form of fibre.
This fibre network carries data between Telstra exchanges (generally phone calls, as well as Telstra Wholesale and Bigpond internet data).
This is setup in a manner that applies QoS to all Voice traffic on its own private network, and the internet services provisioned use the rest (still generally the users line speed, and some).
Bandwidth requirements is a key thing to look at.
Let’s not be Bill Gates and state no one will ever need more than 640k of RAM, let’s face it, years later and I have 3024MB of RAM capable of running laps around the RAM Bill was talking about.
What we don’t really need right now however, is 50Mbps.
What users generally need is speeds in the range of 5 – 25 Mbps, with around 512 – 2Mbps of upload.
Those requirements are easily satisfied with an ADSL2+ network.
The speeds aren’t guaranteed from exchange to door, and degrade very quickly. A solution to that is to bring the exchange closer, they do that by placing nodes, in strategic locations.
But, what happens when FTTN becomes a dated technology? We could all still use it for 50Mbps+ VDSL, or investigate the UDSL standard and give everyone 200Mbps!
The issue with that all is, FTTN will eventually become a redundant technology. In around 5 years, the 25Mbps quoted above will leave users with a thirst for faster services, yet again.
The FTTN would likely be upgraded to VDSL2, costing millions, or billions more, and leaving us, 10 years later (or less) with a thirst for more speed.
As you can see, the pattern forming is, Australia will be chasing its tail on keeping up to speed, this is due to the slow rollout (first mention of FTTN was 2005, get it started all bloody ready) of technology, and the way innovation has previously worked (rather than bringing new technology in before we are needing it, we wait til there’s lots of demand).
Adequate forecasting says that with technology change, consumer change will be expected.
Second Life for example, is a virtual world game, it consumes a fair bit of bandwidth, chuck a child online doing their homework, and a few ulaw phone calls, and eventually that 512kbps is consumed, and we are running at limits.
What needs to happen is we need to provision enough bandwidth to satisfy the investment requirements of suppliers of the technology.
If we go with the G9 and its 12 year monopoly, we must obviously understand that they want to make a return on all they spend on the network, and obviously innovate and make some more off that network (makes sense).
If in 10 years though, FTTP for the majority of homes would cost something like 7billion, is going to FTTN even worth it?
Of course, let’s just stop there, and say:
FTTN is a workable network, they can stick fibre line cards in the nodes, and make more use of the nodes, this is done by replacing the ADSL2+ or VDSL2 cards with fibre line cards, and running fibre cable to the homes.
Therefore, the cost wouldn’t include the initial work that’s already been done to get the nodes there for the initial 12 years or so, reducing the cost for the same area to something like 3 billion for FTTP.
Once you reach FTTP (fibre to the premises), the bandwidth possibilities are endless, as the fibre cable and fibre network are very much expandable.
The important figure here, is not installation, that will always make a return for the investor.
Maintenance, however, is an expense, and is a cost to the investor.
Therefore, rather than maintaining copper wires, spending the money on FTTP would work out cheaper in the long run, with no need to maintain outdated copper wires.
If they did that now, they wouldn’t have to worry about Telstra at all, that’s right, they could keep the 14.89 Telstra is expecting for the ULLS services from FTTN to themselves, instead, make them get 0.00 from the cable, and put some fibre out.
That would leave Telstra scratching their head wondering why they didn’t keep their greedy, fat, pestering mouths shut and agree to 5.00 (ish) for the half copper wire.
Sounds like a plan to me!