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Hilarious Video Compares Fiber to the Home with Fiber to the Node

Another great video from Australia makes many salient points regarding the debate over their national broadband network. One key point to take away is that it is possible to talk to non-technical normal people about this subject without overwhelming them or boring them.

Another is that FTTN = fiber to the nowhere, not fiber to the node.  

When it comes to building infrastructure, we should make smart long term investments. That said, we are strongly supportive of locally owned, fiber networks. Local ownership trumps national ownership because proximity lends itself to accountability.

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Fiber to the Hilarity From Down Under

Due to the many exciting developments in the U.S., we rarely have time to peek at interesting projects overseas, but Australia is experiencing a political fight over its ambitious open access network. The opposition party wants to cut the costs of the project by transforming it from a FTTH network to a FTTN project - Fiber-to-the-node (or as I like to say, fiber-to-the-nowhere as it does nothing to address the largest bottleneck).

Thanks to Benoit Felten, we have been alerted to a "fabled Australian comic duo" sending up the opposition plan. Clarke and Dawe:

Australia Examines Telehealth Benefits from National Broadband Network

As Australia rolls out its National Broadband Network (NBN), an open access mostly FTTH network that will connect 90% of the population (with most of the rest connected with high capacity wireless), it is exploring telehealth opportunities:

“Expanding telehealth services to older Australians still living in their own homes will help health professionals identify potential health problems earlier, reduce the need for older Australians to travel to receive treatment and increase access to healthcare services and specialists.”

Australia has recognized that the private sector will not meet the needs of its businesses and residents and is therefore investing in a next-generation open access network and seeking ways to maximize its social benefits.

Israel appears poised to follow Australia's lead. And what is happening in the US? Well, AT&T admits that DSL is dying, has stopped expanding its supposed next-generation product, and is working state legislatures to prevent others from building the needed networks. SNAFU.

Father of Internet Praises Australia Publicly Owned FTTH Network

Vint Cerf recently discussed the importance of Australia's Open Access National Broadband Network.

Google vice-president and chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf said the plan to construct a fibre-to-the-home network to 93 per cent of the nation was a "stunning" investment.

"I continue to feel a great deal of envy because in the US our broadband infrastructure is nothing like what Australia has planned," he said.

"I consider this to be a stunning investment in infrastructure that in my view will have very long-term benefit. Infrastructure is all about enabling things and I see Australia is trying to enable innovation.

He went on to discuss the difficulty of quantifying the economic gains from the network, comparing it to the ways the Interstate Highway system in the US fundamentally changed our economy.  

Australia's approach is incredibly bold and far-sighted.  Compare that to the Obama's visionary goals of the federal government doing practically nothing more than hoping a reliance on a few massive providers (wireline and wireless) does not leave us too far behind peer nations.

Fiber Down Under: Australia Plans Publicly Owned Open Access Network

Australia is planning to build a nationwide open access network that will be owned by the public. Ars Technica recently covered their progress - Australia has released a consultant report on the proposed network.

If the major incumbent, Telstra, works with the government on the network, the costs will be lower. But Australia will not let Telstra dictate the terms of their relationship:

But it's clear that the new network won't be held hostage to Telstra's demands. The consultants conclude that, in the absence of an agreement, [the fiber network] should proceed to build both its access network and its backhaul unilaterally." [src: Ars Technica]

Between the original plan and a revised plan suggested by the referenced study (bullet points here), over 90% of Australians will have a real choice in providers over a FTTH connection whereas the rest will have a combination of wireless and satellite options. The prices are expected to be affordable, and will probably be well below what we pay here in America.

The Implementation Study has some words about ownership of the National Broadband Network (NBN):

Government should retain full ownership of the NBN until the roll out is complete to ensure that its policy objectives are met – including its competition objectives

On technology, they reiterate what we have been saying for years:

Fibre to the premise is widely accepted as the optimal future proof technology with wireless broadband a complementary rather than a substitute technology;

Have no fear though, we will undoubtedly hear from many apologists for the private telecom companies that Australiai's NBN has "failed" because it is losing money. Estimates on the break even are many years out:

BN Co can build a strong and financially viable business case with the Study estimating it will be earnings positive by year six and able to pay significant distributions on its equity following completion of the rollout;

Brace yourself for a slew of reports noting the operating losses in the early years as "proof" the government should never have built this broadband infrastructure. These are the tried and true tactics of the companies that want to continue monopolizing communications infrastructure.

Video on Australia's Proposed National Broadband Network

Alcatel-Lucent has created a terrific video (I saw it at Fiberevolution.com) for Australia regarding their proposed National Broadband Network. Australia is the latest of many countries poised to surpass the U.S. while we decide whether to take control of our future or let Comcast and AT&T control it.

I recommend the video, and not just for the accent. Most of the video applies equally to the U.S. in terms of what pressures we face and a possible future.

For those unfamiliar, the NBN will be a massive collaborative project between the public and private sector in Australia, resulting in an impressive open access broadband network. We need more videos like this in order to explain to everyday Americans why this infrastructure is so important and we cannot leave it to a few monopolistic companies to build.

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