NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, has cited expense and lack of global standards as reasons why the originally planned ADSL emulation port was scrapped from the Network Terminating Units (NTU) to be installed at residents’ homes as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.
The port, initially revealed by Computerworld Australia as a feature of the Alcatel-Lucent models in July, were scrapped in the fibre access technical specifications released by NBN Co in August. A spokesperson for the company said at the time that Retail Service Providers (RSP) did not intend to use the port in migrating customers to the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network.
When asked about the issue in a Senate budget estimates hearing this week by Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, Quigley said deep dive discussions with RSPs and NBN Co engineers had led to the result.
“It is a concept that in fact I raised some time ago with our own engineering folks,” he said. “It sounded like a possibility, which is why I asked to explore it.
“What we found is uniformly there was no interest from the Retail Service Providers. They believed they could solve that problem more effectively using residential gateways than hanging onto existing DSL modems and what we also found was that it was quite an expensive proposition to put that functionality into the ONT and it wasn’t being used anywhere else in the world. It would be a special, one-off for this application.”
Quigley instead pointed to improvements in Wi-Fi technology as a way of distributing a fibre connection around a household.
Those solutions are currently being tested in Stage 1 sites in Tasmania: iiNet has continued to push its BoB device, an ADSL2+ wireless modem router, for NBN subscribers, but has configured one Ethernet port to operate as a WAN connection through a firmware update. Internode managing director, Simon Hackett, said his own service provider and others were likely to follow suit.
In his first public appearance at the CommsDay Summit in Melbourne earlier in the month, Quigley also disputed contention that residents would have to fork $3000 to $6000 to rewire their homes, in order to take advantage of the speeds offered under the NBN.
“There is a lot of work to be done in the migration by retail services providers and we’re working with them on that, but we really do expect not a huge amount of work in the home,” he said at the time.
One of the first Tasmanian NBN customers, Robert Pettman, told Computerworld Australia he used existing CAT6 wiring in his home as well as wireless to distribute his fibre connection to multiple devices, but that he knew of neighbours who had either gone with wireless or rearranged devices to suit the placement of the ONT.
A short survey conducted by Computerworld Australia last week found 46.82 per cent of the 581 respondents already had Ethernet cabling in their homes, allowing to continue using a fixed network in the event they have the NBN installed. Also:
- 21.51 per cent said they would use one or more Wi-Fi routers to distribute a fibre connection;
- 14.63 per cent would wire their house in anticipation of the NBN;
- 9.47 per cent would suffice with naked Ethernet cables while,
- 7.57 per cent of respondents would use existing copper cabling for a network.