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Faster-than-superfast internet, and why we can’t have it (yet)

You may have read about Sony’s plan to install a fibre-based internet service in Japan which could reach download speeds of 2 gigabits a second (Gbps). That’s 20 times faster than speeds offered by Labor’s…

Speed limits were made to be broken - in internet terms, anyway. JRFreemanJr

You may have read about Sony’s plan to install a fibre-based internet service in Japan which could reach download speeds of 2 gigabits a second (Gbps).

That’s 20 times faster than speeds offered by Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN), and even twice as fast as Google Fiber, a 1Gbps connection currently being rolled out in the US.

To put that in more practical terms, a 2Gbps connection means you could download an episode of HBO’s hugely popular drama Game of Thrones in seconds. And given the first episode of the current season was illegally downloaded more than a million times, that would presumably be a welcome development.

And with a teaser like this, how could you resist?

So, with companies continually outdoing each other and offering faster download capabilities, the question remains: how fast can you go?

To understand internet speeds, we first have to understand optical fibres.

Diagram of an optical fibre consisting of a glass core (1), cladding (2), buffer (3) and jacket (4). Wikimedia Commons

Optical fibres comprise a silica glass core, surrounded by another layer of purer silica, the cladding.

Over these is a silicone protective layer, and one or more layers of protective tubes.

Light is guided along the glass core of the fibre by total internal reflection, which results in very little power loss.

Imagine a glass window 5km thick and only losing 50% of the light; this is how transparent an optical fibre is!

If the core’s diameter is smaller than about 10 micrometres (around one tenth the thickness of a human hair), the light is guided straight down the middle.

This is a single-mode fibre, and as there is only one “path” (mode) for the light to travel along, its velocity is very precise.

A very short pulse of light will remain a pulse as it hurtles down the fibre, so we can send many billions of pulses per second without them overlapping.

This gives the single-mode bandwidth an enormous data carrying capability, much more than a home could possibly want (unless you have a server farm in the attic).

Optical fibre capacity

While optical fibre transmits large amounts of data - and fast - the options available to you or me are by no means as fast as has been demonstrated in laboratories.

Even Sony’s 2Gbps announcement pales in comparison to recent research.

Reports have shown rates of 26Tbps (that’s terabits a second, where one terabit equals 1,000 gigabits) from a single laser source along a standard fibre, to more than 1,000Tbps along a 12-core research optical fibre.

Wysz

That’s equivalent to sending 5,000 high definition, two-hour-long videos over 50km - in one second.

Given that the total average download rate of the world is forecast to be only 250Tbps in 2016, then a single strand of this new multi-core fibre could carry all of the world’s internet traffic!

These reports generate consternation for internet users: why can’t we all have these download speeds now?

The answer, simply, is the capital cost of the equipment at the ends of the fibre, then the rent and electricity for the exchanges.

This is an acceptable cost if the fibre is running between two cities, so shared by millions, but too much to bear for an individual.

And while research will bring down this cost, it’s not doing so as rapidly as demand is increasing.

The sharing of networks limits download speeds. All telecommunications networks are shared, somewhere, so if other users are using it, then you will have a slower connection.

This is particularly annoying when you are trying to pay a credit card bill before the deadline, and your street is downloading films for free to multiple computers, so you get hit with a late fee while the pirates sail the seas.

That said, if you leave paying until the last microsecond you probably deserve a penalty of some sort.

Bill Selak

Widening the bottlenecks

The perceived solution is to spend more on the system, so that even the most media-hungry suburb can enjoy business and pleasure simultaneously.

This only pushes the problem back down the line: there may be a bottleneck at your exchange, or between cities, or across the ocean.

As for your own computer, you might be limited by the Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) standard, which, as its name suggests, is limited by a 1Gbps data rate.

It’s the “widening the freeway” argument. After spending billions, we eventually get stuck at the entrance to the car park.

A better solution is to design the network so that all parts of the network provide equal performance to the individual.

Scallop Holden

This is network engineering, and is aided by software tools such as provided by a company I co-founded, VPIsystems.

With a reasonable estimate of where users are, what services they want and how much they will pay, the optimal network can be designed using appropriate technologies for each component and location.

For example, if a data-hungry industry moves into a town, this can be catered for by upgrading the end-equipment if fibre has been installed.

There are also simple software solutions for sharing services.

Reprogramming the software would mean that I could have a slow service that works all of the time for bill payment – like the emergency lane on the freeway – but I would have a very limited download rate.

Unfortunately, technologically simple solutions are difficult to market: it’s easier to promise the world for $50 a month.

So, let’s all demand a system designed for our most voracious digital appetites – I need to download 10 movies before I fly out on holiday. The taxi just pulled up and the meter is running.

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128 Comments sorted by

  1. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    Now for a little physical reality -- speed comes ta the price of power.

    An original Xerox Ethernet connection might use 1 Watt 24/7, whether carrying bits or not. A 10Gb/s fiber link can demand tens of watts at each interface.

    So, building a faster Internet for occasional user loads is quite wasteful of energy, the closer one gets to the end user's hardware. And an unwired (e.g., cellular radio) system is even more power hungry, as has been explained elsewhere here.

    Communication at high speeds isn't automatically 'green'. Nor is it necessary.

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    1. Karl Schaffarczyk

      Law Honours Candidate at University of Canberra

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, if it is using one watt, that is less than 1KWh per month - a cost I am happy to bear.

      How does this compare with the power required to run a FTTN cabinet? what about the environmental impact of the installation, maintenance, and disposal of the batteries required for reliable operation of an FTTN cabinet?

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    2. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      > An original Xerox Ethernet connection might use 1 Watt 24/7, whether carrying bits or not. A 10Gb/s fiber link can demand tens of watts at each interface.

      This is like comparing a gnat to an albatross. The original Ethernet was limited in range to a few tens of metres, while 10Gb/s fibre links are more typically used to connect buildings within a campus (hundreds of metres) or premises to exchanges, (several kilometres), and near-identical fibres are used, with beefier hardware at the endpoints of course, to connect across oceans.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan, the Ethernet patent was for a common-access, self-sharing medium (1 cable, whatever) a fiber interface is dedicated to carry dedicated traffic -- there is no multiple, on-demand access to the fiber itself -- try it! The end interfaces must manage any fiber sharing, thus must provide computing power, etc. to do that. So the more distinct traffic streams multiplexed onto a fiber, the more power is consumed in the end interfaces.

      And, of course, apart from power, the more expensive the link and the more unreliable the link, as far as single failure points are concerned.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Karl Schaffarczyk

      For those not in 'the know' FTTN just means fiber from the network interface (bridge, router...) to your PC, server, etc.

      Yes Karl, if anyone can type on blogs faster than 10Mb/s, then by all means move to 1-100Gb/s fiber links.
      ;]
      Power in circuitry depends on the circuit technology and the data rate. It takes energy to charge/discharge the internal capacitive loads in any chip, etc. The power goes up faster than the bit rate because of various technical limitations, but fundamentally because…

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    5. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      > For those not in 'the know' FTTN just means fiber from the network interface (bridge, router...) to your PC, server, etc.

      That's not what's being proposed here under that name. Fibre to the "node" refers to fibre to a neighbourhood networking cabinet for further distribution using copper; this is what FTTN is usually understood to mean in the industry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_to_the_x

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    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Yes, Jonathan, as someone who's done network consulting for about 30 years, your interpretation is right, but narrow.

      What do you think is inside those "cabinets"?

      Oh yes, bridges and maybe a router or two.
      ;]

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    7. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      > the Ethernet patent was for a common-access, self-sharing medium (1 cable, whatever)

      Erm. True, but very nearly irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion, which is about power draw. All physical manifestations of "ethernet" (following the same concept described in the patent) since about 1982 have involved either point-to-point cables (with any "sharing" happening at a powered hub or switch) or a radio band.

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    8. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      If "node" meant "network interface, bridge, router etc". then we already have FTTN ... all international cables, all data centres, all but the most remote telephone exchanges and most of the mobile phone towers in Australia already have fibre interconnections. Almost any use of the internet involves fibre for the majority of hops and the vast majority of distance. We're talking about the "last mile" here (or, in a very few regions, the last hundred miles).

      > your interpretation is right, but narrow.

      It's not my interpretation alone, it's just what *everyone* is referring to when they talk about FTTN, as distinguished from FTTP which is what is promised by the existing NBN plan. To use a broader interpretation may be correct but it is not useful.

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan, I don't get your need to be 'right' about something. I've gotten paid $ to consult with or work for companies in networking since 1984.

      Your 1st sentence above makes no sense, since before we had fiber-optic data transmission there were routers, bridges, switches, gateways, servers, stations... and all were and are "nodes".

      You apparently don't understand networking terminology in a functional way.

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    10. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Glad you can look things up on the Internet, Jonathan!

      You should thus be able to look up "fiber to the desktop", as well. And see that what's in your "cabinet" is a bridge whose backplane is what's shared, rather than the cable.

      Why have some odd need to show knowledge where you clearly lack it?

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    11. Karl Schaffarczyk

      Law Honours Candidate at University of Canberra

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, Jonathan,
      The current debate is around the two NBN proposals of the opposing major political parties.
      Fibre to the node (FTTN) being Liberal party policy involves a cabinet at the end of the street, fed by fibre, and distributing the internet access to households using VDSL over copper.
      Fibre to the home (FTTH) being Labor party policy has GPON fibre going inside the subscribers' home.
      In each proposal, the householder then has a modem converting the signal delivered over the copper or fibre to a number of sockets, typically being Ethernet and POTS.

      Fibre to the desktop is not being proposed, nor is there any major discussion about the concept of sharing bandwidth. (although both fibre to the node and GPON both have many householders sharing a single fibre at some point).

      We don't need to argue over technicalities, let's accept the definitions of FTTH and FTTN being used by politicians at the moment.

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Karl Schaffarczyk

      Sure, politicians have always defined what's convenient!

      I was simply commenting that the terminology is not based on engineering fact, only where the conversion to a home-targetted link is made.

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    13. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      What a wasteful debate this is between all of you, with regards to terminology

      The debate to be had is about the pluses and minuses of FTTH and FTTN.

      I think most of us understand that the former allows a consumer to decide the type of equipment he or she connects to the end of the fibre in order to make use of the available speed, ALL of it, unaffected by what others might be doing down the road.

      The latter, of course, prevents the consumer from making that decision and getting the same…

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    14. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, I am wondering from your last paragraph if you actually see the benefits of the NBN as being that we can download 3d movies, play big games across the net, At present I am 20 km from the centre of Brisbane, probably of no consequence, but I can down load a 120 Mb programme of the net in next to not time - it does vary a bit to be sure, but is always quite OK.

      I can upload my pictures and pages to my websites in very respectable times which in no way inhibit my productivity.

      The people in the country who are on low speeds and satellite, are still going to be on low speeds and satellite, long aftert he NBN is completed in 2025.

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, just as FTTN was misused, as a general engineering term, "What a wasteful debate this is between all of you" is poor English.
      ;]
      And your imagination is evident here...

      "FTTH and FTTN...the former allows a consumer to decide the type of equipment he or she connects to the end of the fibre in order to make use of the available speed, ALL of it, unaffected by what others might be doing down the road. The latter, of course, prevents the consumer from making that decision and getting the…

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    16. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Chill, Alex. Nobody is trying to redefine the word "node". I certainly would not have used that word to describe this particular proposition, had it been up to me. But the industry and the politicians were there before me (and you); the linguistic territory is theirs.

      In this context, "node" invariably refers to "neighbourhood" : the comms panel of a multiple-occupancy building or a free-standing cabinet at the end of the street.

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    17. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "Chill, Alex"? Really, Jonathan, you put oddly high stakes in imagining another's emotions on even such a silly topic.

      And, no, politicians or business folks don't get to make technical "linguistic territory...theirs". Otherwise, we have no language, just marketing.

      "node" invariably refers to "neighbourhood" -- no more than "sports sedan" appropriately label a Cadillac, or "GTO" ever properly defined a Pontiac, no matter what GM marketing dudes wrote into their promo copy.
      ;]

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    18. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens,

      One further question.Camejo. Since when has the copper cable (pair(s)) to your home been shared with other users before it reaches a node down the street. This is the same node which will be connected to fibre in the Coalitions plan.

      Sharing is done by the fibre in exactly the same way as it will be for FTTH. Also it is a myth that the speed of fibre is "independent" of users. If the carrier frequency - of which there may be several but not for every single user, has an upper speed…

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    19. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      You're flogging a dead horse.

      The coalition's NBN is a total croc and Australians are proving to be silly enough to vote for it next week. So be it... the myth is this nation being a smart one. No smart nation would make the choice to limit its potential as we will do next Saturday.

      We've come a long way in the 13 years fast broadband has been available in this country. fast such as it was in 2000 with sppeds of 125, 500, 1,500 and 8,000 kbps, (that latter only affordable if you lived in Toorak…

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  2. Wil B

    B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

    IIRC, NBN is already suggesting it will be offering 1 Gbps by the end of the year.

    http://www.zdnet.com/au/gigabit-speeds-to-hit-nbn-by-end-of-year-7000014241/

    I would like this thread to remain technical and not become a boring partisan political discussion of the merits of the NBN Co/ALP plan versus Turnbull’s plan. But since that’s futile, I will strike first. Under Turnbull’s plan, 25mbps is the maximum speed (barring highly speculative future developments), while under the NBN Co plan, 100mbps is already demonstrated as the absolute minimum, which will be upgraded.

    And those who think that multiple downloads of HD movies is crazy use of internet, I give you UHDTV http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra_high_definition_television

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    1. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Wil B

      Wil, thank you for the links. As stated in the article piracy is a part of the traffic, if you throw in porn and trivia we see future demand. It's not that far away when we will see interactive movies, the gaming world is now excited about such thing as Oculus, if this was coupled to Leap Motion and animation was replaced with actors the 3d virtual experience would be as real as say a lucid dream. The TV series Caprica gives some incite of the future. Now a popular game is around 9gb, add the interactive video content required and future games/films could be 50 to 100 or more gb the hiatus at this time is bandwidth.

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  3. Darren Parker

    logged in via Facebook

    So does this mean that if we eventually want / need 1,000Tbpsm, we need a "12-core" [research] optical fibre?

    And if so, does this mean we'd have to roll out NEW fibre to every home?

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    1. Arthur Lowery

      Professor of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University

      In reply to Darren Parker

      Well, yes, we could roll out a 12-core fiber to every home, or eleven extra standard fibers.

      Given that the brain can only absorb a couple of Mbps, there's probably a better way to provide the information that we want (i.e. that we will pay attention to). Scanning where the eye is focused might be one of them, and only transmitting that information and a some spare around the edges to cope with the latency (delay) of the system. I think expecting HD 3D TV on every surface that we could probably look at is a bit of a waste of the Earth's resources, when some don't have a single electric light bulb.

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    2. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      Arthur,

      I totally agree with your article of the reality check we should all be carrying out. I think the initial rate of take up indicates that vry few people are rally interested in to projected speeds and the slower ADSL uploads and downloads provide everything I need, even though I do a lot of work on the internet, and have been using computers in research and abnalysis since 1966.

      I wonder if your system will be implemented eventually into a National System, what ever that might be…

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    3. Zane Mookhoek

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Darren Parker

      1,000Terabits per second is a pipe dream for consumers. Wasteful, too. A thousand terabits is 125terabytes. 125 terabyte HDD per second.

      But, yes, if the world "needed" that then you would need to roll out new cable.

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    4. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      The Model T ford also once provided everything anyone needed... Then someone thought of a truck... then a bus, decades later Fangio drove a race car and became famous.
      Coal fired trains became electric and diesel powered.

      Now we have cars that park themselves... That' called linear progression... One thing leads to another.

      With the internet and computer technology there is no such thing as linear. One thing leads to thousands within months. Most totally unrelated to the other.

      The technology…

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    5. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, Your analogy is a good one and also very relevant to the current debate. Henry Ford developed a basic, cheap "technology" which made way for better things as new materials, new fuels, new methods of stabilising a vehicle, cluthces and brakes.became available.

      The NBN attempts to reach what is being presented as the ultimate system, based purely on one characteristic - speed. This is admirable to a point, but by the time it is completed, there will be available much better, less 'lossy…

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    6. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John

      There is nothing that will ever surpass the speed of light... Fibre has the capability to transfer terabits per second even now. I don't envisage that being a necessity in our lives but of our grandchildren's?

      The thing is once this fibre is in place to the home, at no expense to the householder, might I add, all it would take, if necessary, would be a pull through of new cables through the ducts being laid out for the current NBN.

      Life will be wireless, yes, the home will be wireless…

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  4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    One problem Australia faces is that much of our internet downloads comes from overseas.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Australia pays the total cost of our links to the USA (so not only do we pay our own way, but if an American downloads a movie from a server in Australia we pay for them too).

    High speed is well and good, but most people don't want to pay the volume charges associated with downloading huge amounts of data.

    Downloading legal pay-tv over the NBN will probably be free to the…

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    1. Karl Schaffarczyk

      Law Honours Candidate at University of Canberra

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, I agree. International transit is and will always be expensive when compared to local carriage of data.

      Volume charges are not set by the NBN, but if you compare the 27c/Mb charges which were common on dialup connections 15 years ago, or $5/hour 20 years ago, we can see that volume charges have fallen dramatically.

      More ISPs are providing unmetered access to data sources such as ABC iView, gaming servers, and mirrors of popular content.
      Why is this? Because it is cheap.

      Local content…

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  5. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    I well recall when 1200baud was the norm and people wondered why you would need 2400. Is there a limit to our demands? I wonder whether we want speed for its own sake: you could download your 10 movies while the taxi waits, but you can still only view them in real time.

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    1. Karl Schaffarczyk

      Law Honours Candidate at University of Canberra

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      The clearest demonstration of demand for bandwidth is the posting of storage media. 20 years ago, people posted floppy disks, and entire businesses operated around posting disks (remember shareware exchanges?)

      These days, Australia Post mail centre employees have boxes full of USB drives which get caught in the sorting machines.

      If people are still posting storage media, then there is a demand for bandwidth to be faster and cheaper.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Yeah, Doug. We all have friends with DVRs whose unseen content will be bequeathed for future generations to erase.
      ;]

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Yes, Alex, we are magpies at heart, storing all sorts of useful stuff in case of future need. My email archive goes back to 1997: there is a good chance I am squirrelling away more than are strictly needed.
      "8-)

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  6. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    I hope Gillard can sort out my internet connection before the forthcoming election as I don't think I will be receiving any decent upgrades (NBN) in my lifetime given the current scenario.

    I wish Dr. Who could intervene.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to John Kelmar

      I dunno about Dr. Who helping, but you can be sure of the service you will get if Dr. No wins in September: two tomato cans and a length of wet string, to connect you to your nearest node. Wonderfully far-thinking chap, that Dr. No. /sarc

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  7. Arthur James Egleton Robey

    Industrial Electrician

    How many years would your analysis be good for?
    We will need holographic presentations as the world runs out of cheap oil. If my physical body does not need to travel then it wont be allowed to.
    You might be amazed at how much technology can solve.
    Of cause the Limits to Growth curves are going to put paid to all that nonsense.
    We have to provide for three generations hence, not for this quarter's profit and loss statement.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Arthur James Egleton Robey

      Arthur, you said "We have to provide for three generations hence, not for this quarter's profit and loss statement".

      * We, as individuals, are interested in trying to leave a habitable world to our grandchildren.

      * We, as electors, are interested in getting ourselves a government willing and able to take a long view.

      * Politicians are interested in the daily media cycle and the three- or four-year election cycle.

      Incompatible outlooks are inevitable, unfortunately. When was the last time you heard a politician mention Peak Oil? They don't, because they don't want to spook the herd.

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    2. Arthur Lowery

      Professor of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Hi

      I don't think I ever said that ("3 generations"),but its a noble idea. Having fiber closer to the place of residence is a good idea for future-proofing nearer term, but who knows what residences will look like in 75 years: I suspect many houses will have been replaced by apartment blocks to fit in the population. I think the best way to future-proof all transport networks, physical, data or energy, is to provide/plan some rights of way that they can be built along: though tunneling is always an option and "moles" to drag cable along underground are also an option too.

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  8. Trevor S

    Jack of all Trades

    Spare a thought for those of us 40km from the coast in Northen NSW stuck with a NBN Sat. connection yet on a copper wire for telephone, with fibre currently to the exchange.

    The only "fiber" we get is the rough end of the pineapple ;(

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  9. John Doyle

    architect

    Can we future proof the roll out?
    Right now it looks to me that the NBN might be "old hat" technology by the time it is rolled out.
    Still useful naturally but we may find our country left behind in the information race that is firing up now.
    By future proof I mean the hardware will be sufficient now to keep pace with future needs, at least for a decade or so.

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Doyle

      John

      Sorry, this is not meant to be personal but it appears you have a poor, if any, understanding of what a fibre to the home NBN actually is.

      You comment is a line that has been run by opponents of the NBN simply to fool the educated and to make them think it is a waste of money.

      It really angers me to think that there are people either so uneducated or so blinded by partisan politics that they would even consider an argument such as yours. It really is the fault of the current government…

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    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Today fibre to the home is the current technology best, but technology has a way of surprising us,
      so banking on fibre because it will be the best solution in 20 years time isn't sensible.

      We are also building the worlds most expensive solution. Half the cost of the NBN is paying the competitors to not compete.

      This is why NBN don't talk of falling future costs but just promises not to increase cost above inflation.

      Also note that many of the benefits of the NBN already exist.

      Many…

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    3. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael

      For a "telecommunications engineer", you are ill informed.

      You say most people have 2mbps now?.. In metropolitan areas most people have promised speeds of 25mbps but most would be lucky to reach 8mbps.

      In rural area the figures decrease. Most are on ADSL1 or wireless internet. The hard-wired ones have mostly 1,500 kbps and rarely achieve those speeds due to having to share the limited capacity for data transmission copper offers and/or the distance they are from the exchange…

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      My point is that many people already have the speeds necessary for working at home. For them the NBN will make things nicer, but not make much difference. So the benefits of work-from-home are hyped.

      The country is a special case, and needs to be discussed separately.

      Given a free market, which the NBN will prevent, it is possible that other technologies will become cheaper and better. As I said, which you ignored, our NBN is twice the price it should be because half the cost is paying competitors…

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    5. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      I don't know anything about this system. That's why I asked.
      Thanks for the clarification. It seemed a suitable forum.
      No need to put a political dimension to it.
      Where did you dream that up?

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    6. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael,

      If you’re an accountant and work from home on accounting packages, yes, most people in metropolitan areas do have enough speed. However, if you work in graphics co-operatively on large projects then no you do not have enough speed. It’s not about the download in that case, it is about the upload speeds.

      That is of course today, what will be needed to work from home even for an accountant in 30 years?
      A mere 10 years ago few could have worked from home, now only some can. The idea…

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    7. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens Camejo,

      I really think that you are exagerating the benfits of the NBN, the cost of which is almost certain to double to about $80 to 90 Billion. The benefits real commercial have never been beem tested by the productivity commission or any other planning body. The take up is miniscule compared with what was expected or at least presented as a justification for the cost.

      In parts of the country, fibre has been in place for about sixteen or more years with no claimed benefit for those…

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    8. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Doyle

      Sorry, John

      Fair enough if you didn't know, you didn't know.
      The political aspect of my comments comes from the fact your comment, re; seems like it will be obsolete....is an argument was often run by shock jocks and is often run in forum comments such as this by what can be either very stupid people or the type of treasonous people I described in my comments earlier.

      Please not that I did say that my comments were not directed at you personally, certainly they were not meant to offend…

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    9. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Now almost none of the people who could work from home because their internet access is good enough do not.

      Working from home is more a social and business issue than one of the NBN.

      And why everyone should pay so that just the few who could benefit from high speed can do so is wrong.

      That the Foxtel has just bought the right to lots of BBC shows shows the reality of the way things will go. Foxtel can always pay more than anyone else because they can then recoup the extra cost from forcing…

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    10. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to John Nicol

      The big problem is that most discussion of the NBN is political. So it is either the Liberals attacking Labor, or Labor extolling the virtues of their NBN.

      Criticising the NBN as I have done is taken as an attack on Labor, which I guess it is, but I'm certain no fan of the Liberals.

      As someone who worked for 25 years in telecommunications I can say that the cost of government bungling has been incredible.

      Our excellent analogue mobile network was shut down early to provide fair competition…

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    11. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John. it is getting late and after a game of football this afternoon, at my age I am feeling tired, hence a couple of typos in earlier comments.

      I promise to address your questions in detail tomorrow evening.

      None the less, I will make this comment about your post now:

      You seem to find it hard to accept even a few if any positives about a FTTH NBN and yet you say you are certain about the biggest negative claim the coalition has come up about the NBN, the $80-$90 billion cost.

      I put…

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    12. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      And whilst Murdoch scares his readers into voting Liberal, if the NBN goes ahead as planed it is likely that Foxtel will be the greatest beneficiary.

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    13. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens Camejo,
      I believe that what I say below is correct.
      “I would have to correct you when you say that the fibre network will never be obsolete. Fibres have been developed from about 1972 (30 m) to whatever the unamplified distance is today - and it is not forever! The main research was commenced in Southampton, England, under Professor Gambling, and in Japan a few years before that time. Southampton still houses the main research centre in the world today.

      Recently news from that…

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    14. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Thanks Rubens for that response. I will certainly look forward to your comments tomorrow. I have just posted another reply to an earlier comment by yourself, so perhaps you could save yourself some time by putting one response to both of my inputs. I will honestly be interested in your comments and to know the scientific and if appropriate business or social background on which you base your reply in which I anticipate you are going to show me that my beliefs wrt the NBN are wrong.

      BTW I am not arguing from a political viewpoint and would hate to do so on anything which has a sniff of science about it. It is just from a business point of view and my view of the practical applications of the NBN versus what I believe would be a better option - encouragement of further private investment in fibre (3,000,000 homes/businesses are already connected, as are the major institutions and a private trunk fibre runs from Cairns to perth since about 1997. Cheers, John Nicol

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    15. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, you said "Light is the only thing that travels at the speed of light". To be pedantically accurate, the speed of light we usually think of is its speed in a vacuum. In other media, light propagates at a slightly slower speed, although still very fast. For example, look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light

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    16. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Yep. You are being pedantic, Doug... light in whatever media, all things being equal, is the fastest thing we know of with the exception of Leonel Messi's brainwaves, perhaps.

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    17. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      OK, John, here we go….

      I’ll just settle in and see what I can come up with just so I can waste a little time in putting a case to someone that thinks it certain that the NBN will cost $80 to $90 billion just because a party, its shock jock supporters and a rag stable told him so…. If they said it, it must be true, right? Surely, they wouldn’t lie to the Australian public to gain an extra vote. As pure as the driven snow, as the saying goes…. (Sorry, just had to get that off my chest or else I’d write angry at you… I’d much rather debate).

      Ok Post to follow…might be a little while, I expect it might take more than 1,000 words to respond to your post/s

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    18. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Remember that half the cost of the NBN is paying others not to compete.

      So if someone wanted to compete with a micro-cell wireless solution they cannot.

      And instead of some people having the option to choose micro-cell or NBN, they are forced to use the NBN and in effect pay for not having the other network.

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    19. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      John,

      For ease of reading I will address all my responses to each of your points under this post as requested. I will address each point in separate posts as well, again, all under this post

      Response to this post:

      1 –Politics
      I do not believe you are not being political when your parroting of an unsubstantiated claim, re the cost, put about by the coalition is your opening line. Too obvious… In my case, however, the non-political nature of my arguments is very true indeed. I do not ever…

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    20. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, I really don't care about that. what I care about is that if anyone wants to compete in this field, they're going to compete in Bondi Not Gloucester.

      If anyone builds a portion of the network they will do so just so they can create a vertical business, Own the infrastructure AND provide the service, the incentives to lock out other users or charge more than necessary for the use of their infrastructure is too tempting.

      Competition will come from the service and content providers, as it should be, Not in the infrastructure, WE, the people, should own that and we should never sell it. In the long run it will be a better revenue raiser than any mining or carbon tax anyone can think of.

      Mark my words, if FTTH is completed, we will be forever thankful that such an infrastructure is not there generating profits for private shareholders whilst we are left to subsidise the less profitable portions of it and paying through the nose for our services in order to do so.

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    21. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Most of us live in cities, and so just because the NBN is party about the country you "don't care" that those in the cities are paying double just so that it is guaranteed that a competing service, which might be better suited to the needs of many, will not happen.

      What further proof do I need that your are just blindly defending Labor's plan?

      For many years I led at team at the Telstra Research Labs on broadband services, and I find your optimism of future services excessive, and your ignorance of the business realties surprising.

      And I'm pretty sure that even Labor intend to sell of the NBN, so "we the people" owning this is wrong.

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    22. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      John,

      On the technical issues you raised:

      I am afraid you lost me more than a bit.

      However, I will say this to you on the subject from personal experience.

      When I say that fibre will never be obsolete I did not mean that the cables being laid now will be the ones that will remain there for the next 40 years. In fact Fibre has a life of between 20 to 40 years. Just like copper, it will have to up-graded from time to time.
      Despite the need for periodical upgrades the cost of doing so…

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    23. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, I doubt a parliament that has a Senate with the Greens in the balance of power situation would ever sell the NBN,

      If FTTH is completed I don't think a government that tries to sell it will get it past the voters, certainly, I think an opposition in the Senate will block such a sale along with the Greens because they'd know they'd be on a winner.

      As for the subsidy, Why is it OK for country people's taxes to subsidise our trains and buses and not OK or us to subsidise their telecommunications?

      This must be a ME ME attitude disease running in the country. WA doesn't want to share its mineral wealth with the rest of the country but it was OK for the major states to share theirs with WA before any mining boom.

      As for being blind... perhaps. Perhaps I have been blinded by articles such as this:

      http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2013/02/21/3695094.htm

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    24. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      You are right that the Greens probably would not be keen to sell this.

      But you forget that both Labor and Liberal might be - and the Greens only have balance of power when the Liberals disagree with Labor. Most legislation passes with all approving it. We hear lots about when Labor and Liberal disagree. We here less about when only the Greens disagree.

      I'm too busy to do the research, but I suspect that the city is subsidising the country fairly significantly.

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    25. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens,

      Thanks for your reply. I have just come home from late night of celebration but have glanced at the article and copied it into Word for deeper perusal in the morning. I will get back to you then, hoping that the thread stays open. My email is jonicol18@bigpond.com. Give me a flick if this site closes and I will get back to you. Your comments are intelligent and interesting, even where I don't necessarily agree with you. I accept some of thepoints in the articlew but not all at first glance.
      Regards,
      John Nicol

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    26. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      You're right, Michael. both Labor and L the Libs agree that the NBN should be sold........ now

      You ignore my proposition, however, that when the time comes, any party that proposes the sale will lose the next election, whichever it is and that the other party will oppose the sale because the NBN will be too popular as a money making venture and a competition enabler. I doubt the love affair with selling off assets will remain in 25 years. History will have shown us the errors of that philosophy by then.

      As for subsidising one way or the other, in an egalitarian society, that is what we are meant to do. A fair crack of the whip as it were.

      I've written before that the NBN will be a decentralisation enabler so the subsidies won't be as pronounced as it might seem. a much larger proportion of Australians will be living in inland cities by the time the NBN will be ready for a sale that I hope will never happen.

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    27. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Actually, Michael, you're right, I apologise for not thinking about this before,

      We DO subsidise rural Australia in many, many ways. For instance; every time we buy a can of soft drink we are paying for part of the costs of transporting a similar can to a country town. I am sure there are tens of thousands of other items we do the same with.

      The NBN will be one more... this one though, is worth it for what it offers us all and it should be offered to us all equally. Maybe I am too generous or maybe I am being self centred because with a job in the country, I would live Sydney so fast I'd be out of town before my house got dark after me switching the light off and having locked the door; to paraphrase an old Jack Gibson quote in reference to Andrew Ettingshousen.

      Jack said: ""ET's so quick he can turn the light off and be in bed before it gets dark"

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    28. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, I had to look up your reference to Leonel Messi - LOL.

      The point I was making is that communication speeds might not be all that different between fibre optics and copper wire. Light travelling along a fibre optic cable travels more slowly than light in a vacuum. Does electricity in a copper cable travel more slowly again than that? I have no idea: I raise it as an interesting side issue.

      "8-)

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    29. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      The thing about copper, Doug is that is has something called resistance.. A little like you running on the edge of the beach at ankle deep water. You can run as fast as you can there but if the water is at thigh high you slow down and by the time you reach 20 metres you will have slowed down from your original speed whereas at ankle deep at 20 metres you would still be running at the same speed.

      Fibre does not slow down because of distance but if your signal comes via copper, it begins to slow…

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    30. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, I am aware of copper's resistance issue, but I thought the effect was to attenuate the signal, making it harder to detect reliably, rather than physically slowing it down. As reliable detection goes down, retries increase and an increasing fraction of bandwidth is used to correct errors, leading to a lower net throughput of data. Am I wrong?

      I was likening the attenuation of signal over copper, to the attenuation of signal over fibre, although acknowledging that these attenuations take place over greatly different distances.

      As I understand it, sharing links with other users is always going to multiplex the bandwidth and putting too much traffic across the link will see contention, with the need for retries, which will slow the net throughput per user. Fibre just has a higher bandwidth, so contention is less likely at today's usage rates.

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    31. Arthur Lowery

      Professor of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      The velocity of signals in fibre is dominated by the refractive index of the silica it is made of - giving about 70% of the speed of light.

      The velocity of signals in copper cables is dominated by the dielectric constant of the material that is used to space the wires (the inner wire and outer tube in a coaxial cable), and what proportion of the space between the wire & tube is filled with air. These spacers have air bubbles in, or are at regular intervals, or spirals, to increase the proportion of air. Coaxial cables can have propagation velocities close to, or exceeding, fibre.

      "Holey" fibres also have air in them, so can be 'faster' than normal fibres.

      Of course, the signal bandwidth (which supports bits/second) of a copper cable is less, because its loss increases dramatically at higher frequencies suffer much more loss. In our lab, getting a 100Gbit/s a few metres electrically (copper) is much problematic than getting 10 Tbit/s over 800 km optically!

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    32. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      Doug & Arthur

      I have to admit that I am not as technically educated as you both obviously are, I am, without the the exact scientific knowledge stating the reasons for speed differences that I have been provided with whilst working with technicians and engineers at AAPT.

      I know these things for a fact. however;

      1 - Data travelling via copper cable will lose speed the longer it has to travel via that copper. That was given to me as resistance. maybe it was a simple explanation given to a…

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    33. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      It is the potential bandwidth of fibre that makes a big difference.

      The difference between ping times (the time between sending a signal to someone and getting their reply) is for most purposes the same with copper and fibre.

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    34. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, thanks for the info. I was sure the physical speed of fibre and copper (over a modest cable run) would be about the same. The key differences are latency, attenuation, contention and the speed of the equipment connected to the cable. From what you said, I take it that fibre has about the same latency as copper, greater distance before attenuation becomes a problem, but far higher bandwidth leading to more concurrent users before contention kicks in as a problem - does that about cover it?

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    35. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      From the service point of view the main two things that matter are latency (ping time) and bandwidth.

      I think you will find that most of those promoting the current NBN think that you get a fibre from your house all the way to the exchange.

      As an ex-telecommunications engineer (who has not looked into this) I feel certain that the current NBN will be a fibre from your house to a node which is where your fibre ends. At that node the signals from many fibres will be combined and all the traffic will be carried by just a few fibres to the exchange.

      So the simplistic thinking that the NBN is future proof because you have your own fibre to the exchange is probably wrong.

      A little test of my professional expertise - does someone want to do the research to find out if I'm right or wrong?

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    36. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael

      I can't believe your negativity; you keep looking for reasons why it shouldn't be done.

      I am no expert but I envisage this, if you thing of normal vehicular traffic:

      I leave my cul de sac and join the main street, then I join the arterial road that takes me to the freeway and finally to my destination; the ISP.

      Once at my ISP i pay the toll and and it puts me on another freeway to cross the Pacific, Once I arrive at Los Angeles, I travel on a local freeway until I am directed…

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    37. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      One thing to keep clearly in mind is that present technologies for optical fibre and wired/microwave transmission differ significantly because our use of optical transmission is very limited in flexibility.

      Signalling is far more rich in radio and conducted transmission because we've far better control via electronic signalling than we do over optical signals.

      The first networks were, in fact, optical -- The Swedes used octal semaphores, read via telescopes, and Napoleon's crew spent many Francs…

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    38. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens,

      I'm just a professional telecommunications engineer who has led a team working on broadband services and who understands the costs and benefits of technologies.

      Though you clearly don't fully understand the technology, though you don't seem bothered by the economics, and your idea of the services is 'who knows what benefits may come', perhaps you are right.

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    39. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      All present transmission lines are electromagnetic- wave-propagation devices.

      Copper is the material for the conductors but the conductors are carefully designed and positioned relative to one another so a wave propagates uniformly down the cable;'s length. Light fibres are more primitive, only with the most expensive, fine designs maintaining uniform wavefronts at light frequencies (above TeraHz), so typical, multi-mode fibre signals are distorted by the difference in propagation times for direct…

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    40. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, I think you can save typing your resume from now on, we get it and take you at your word.

      Like all resumes however, you keep adding little things to make it sound better than it really is.

      You might know the technology and what it costs to build but you have no idea of the benefits an NBN can bring and you certainly keep overlooking the benefits our economy has enjoyed over the past 20 years or so because of the internet.

      Those benefits have been most pronounced in the past 10…

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    41. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      You might as well say in 1980 that our programming skills are just emerging, just imagine what people will be able to do with a 1980 computer in the future.

      Fibre technology is developing - better end equipment, and better fibres.

      Micro-cell broadband technology is also developing. But here in Australia we are paying companies who might trial or commercialise this not to do so just so the business case of the NBN looks better.

      Alex - your passion is not in doubt. But please stop posting technical nonsense.

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    42. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, I stopped reading your post after you wrote "You might know the technology and what it costs to build but you have no idea of the benefits an NBN can bring and you certainly keep overlooking the benefits our economy has enjoyed over the past 20 years or so because of the internet."

      My last job was leading the team researching broadband services at the Telstra Research Labs. I have 25 year experience working in the industry as a profession telecommunications engineer. I no longer work in this industry so I'm free to speak my mind without worrying about the response of current or future employers.

      One of us doesn't know what they are talking about, I don't think that this is me.

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    43. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Really, Michael? You have some facts to support your snark of my: "posting technical nonsense"?

      Ever actually worked with fibre systems?

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    44. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      My professional opinion is that you don't know what you are talking about.

      You are, of course, entitled to a second opinion.

      So I welcome the view of any professional telecommunications engineers reading this thread.

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    45. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Yes, Telstra closed down its Research Labs, most people who worked their were made redundant, and I decided to take a package whilst they were still generous in their payouts.

      I've worked for myself in a totally unrelated area ever since.

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    46. Arthur Lowery

      Professor of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Hi

      There has been tremendous progress in optical communications over the last 3 decades. Fibre is as precise as coaxial copper cable, and easier to make, more resilient, easier and cheaper to connect (splice), and has much, much better bandwidth. In single-mode fibers, the pulse spreading is <10 picoseconds per km over a typical signal bandwidth - and this is easily reversed using dispersion compensating fibers or digital computation.

      We used to have less sophisticated control over lasers…

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    47. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      I remember seeing some people 'playing' with fibre in the very early 1980's at the then Telecom Australia Research Labs. It had the potential to be significant in the future ...

      We have made amazing progress since.

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    48. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      Arthur Lowery,

      I am wondering if you could explain to to us why the peak or minimum speed, (whichever it is), of 100 Mb/s has been set when it appears that much faster speeds could be made available. I am not one who is necessarily applauding the NBN as I believe it is too expensive to justify the potential improvement for 90% of us over ADSL2+. But why did they settle for 100 Mb/s?

      As noted elsewhere, in spite of some comments to the contrary, those who are most likely to need high speed…

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    49. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      There's the thing, John, just because you or I don't download films it doesn't mean that 3 million others don't.

      In 30 years, what are going to be the size of the programs we download?

      What is the size of a 4K Hd film? and how many will be downloading them?

      What is the size of a HD movie that lasts for say 90 mins, a football match? This one I can answer! I am a football coach so I often record the games using a HD camera, (the type you can get for about $2,000), well, actually my son does…

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    50. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      I'm now watching Dateline from a week ago on North Korea.

      Your post is very like this. Party hype with no sense behind it.

      My old job was to answer questions like this, and things like "What is the size of a 4K HD film?" are already known, expect for the possibility of coding becoming better and so the size becoming smaller.

      Back to watching North Korea ...

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    51. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Well, then Michael, you should welcome this fellow with more experience and engineering training than yours, eh? I just don't prance about quite as well as you.
      ;]

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    52. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      The issue isn't the precision of the media (wired/fibre), but the abilities of the interfaces of those media to provide maximum signalling efficiency and thus data rates.

      Fibre drivers are still quite primitive in their ability to use a given slice of the light spectrum the fibre can pass. Electromagnetic (wired/radio) signalling devices have been far more sophisticated and efficient in their use of bandwidth for decades.

      Fibre signalling/detection systems have not yet the ability to exploit…

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    53. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, so part of what we gain from fibre bandwidth, we lose from inefficient optical signalling? Does that include such things as retrying missed or garbled packets? I don't even know how information is packeted over fibre: if I thought about it at all, I assumed it would be much the same as over copper. Always enjoy learning new stuff.

      Does it take more energy per unit distance to communicate over fibre, or copper? Again, if I thought about it at all, I assumed fibre would take less energy, as it does not have the resistive - attenuation - losses of copper.

      Napoleon's use of semaphores is interesting. I recently read a novel predicated around the idea of a naval raiding party taking control of one of his semaphore stations and reading his 'emails', but I thought it was a flight of fictitious fantasy! I'll have to read it again with an open mind "8-).

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    54. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Arthur Lowery

      This is turning into a fascinating thread: I hope the moderators don't shut it down too soon. Thanks to all for your input. I have learned more about fibre on this thread, than in 25 years as a software developer.

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    55. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens,

      I can hear what you are saying about the future and have read the articles you pointed me towards. I can also certainly respect your view point. However, while I understand that some people will want to do as you do and download movies and also upload them, I feel that we may just have to agree to differ.

      I guess my main point in relation to your comment that we must build for the future, is that from your own statements we do not know what that future will contain, nor what aspirations…

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    56. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens,

      I forgot to mention that I do not know any details of its funding model as such, but it is quite clear that the $37Bn - I also think I said "Million" in my last post by mistake - is being spent on Australia's behalf without our permission. There is also a model for connecting it to the home which is not for free by any means.

      I believe that by going NBN Lite, improvements can be made in areas where needed by demand from real commerce, by simply putting in more hubs and shortening the access wires from the home. This is the technique used in wireless/obile phones where when a triangle of towers becomes over loaded, they simply put a tower in the centre of the triangle so there are then three shorter distance towers for the same population.

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    57. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, don't worry, programmers only need be concerned with input & output buffer/queue management -- forget the physics!
      ;]

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    58. Arthur Lowery

      Professor of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University

      In reply to John Nicol

      Dear John

      So, yes, a fibre itself can support tremendous bandwidths, so the equipment at the ends is the source of the bottlenecks. Another factor is that the fibre is shared amongst many customers, because a single fibre from the exchange divides into individual fibers, so some sharing mechanism is required.

      Looking at the equipment at the customer end, presently there is a laser transmitter and a receiver, and some electronics. The laser is a cheap version, with a roughly-defined wavelength…

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    59. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Excellent questions, Doug! There are proprietary formats for data encapsulation that depend on the actual interconnecting physical medium (wire/radio/light) and there are standard formats, especially at higher levels in networking architecture. TCP/IP is one Internet standard for data transmission that is termed a "protocol" family that handles worldwide addressing of data packets (IP) and reliable transmission of those packets (TCP), perhaps requiring retransmission of lost/damaged packets as…

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    60. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Excellent mini tutorial - thanks very much, Alex. My knowledge never went much beyond TCP/IP and certainly never down to the PHY layer or further. I love learning, even at my age (who doesn't?).

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    61. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      You;re very welcome, Doug. Networking used to be much more interesting, before TCP/IP and the Internet dominated. Who could forget Corvus Omninet or HDLC on Token Ring, or the Coors beer-can factory running on Arcnet, or the entire Microsoft idea that a worldwide network was just a bridged Token Ring running only NetBIOS and just one user allowed to be BillG?!
      ;]
      http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.fileguru.com/images/b/network_protocols_map_poster_network_and_internet_misc__network-3802.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.fileguru.com/Network-Protocols-Map-Poster/screenshot&h=389&w=568&sz=65&tbnid=tIt83f0GfftJqM:&tbnh=84&tbnw=122&zoom=1&usg=__SdB9hDonbz5VBR8O4cb-h_AuT2k=&docid=JY2pWDjBd-jC_M&sa=X&ei=m4KAUfjIKYrm8QTvwoCgDQ&ved=0CDkQ9QEwAQ&dur=847

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    62. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Ah, yes! Token Ring and NetBIOS: giants of their time, but fallen like Ozymandias. Nostalgia from a slower, but exciting, time.

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    63. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      When working at Network general in the '90s, we decided Token Ring would be dead by 2000, unable to compete with cheaper, easier Ethernet.

      In 1998, I visited a Pacific Bell datacenter that used robotic video-tape 'silos' to store and access customer data. The silos were controlled by an IBM 9745 minicomputer. I fully expected to connect to its Token Ring interface for my analysis, but could only find an Ethernet jack. It dawned -- a revelation -- a new IBM computer with only a 'dreaded' Ethernet interface IBM had vowed never to license from Xerox -- Token Ring was dead earlier than we'd hoped or guessed!

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    64. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      Well, John, worry not. The $2,000 per head... at 23 million that makes it $46 Bn, by the way... Not the stated cost and the coalition has not provided any evidence that it will cost any more despiet their $90Bn claims.

      I say worry not, because the government is not spending a cent of ours, nor it must be said is it planning to do that on this infrastructure.

      You see, what the government has done is set up an independent company, NBN Co, and empowered it to borrow the cost of building the NBN…

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    65. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Thank you again for your informataion Rubens. However, I have just been reading the NBN site and from the information there it does not suggest that the initial funding is all on its own head and from comments made at the outset, my understanding was somewhat different from yours.

      We were told that the building was in fact a cost to be initially bourne by the Government but that the funding was determined to be "outside" the budget and therefore did not contribute to a budget deficit - or cost…

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    66. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      One more question Rubens. You said that if I want the connection to the node by fibre, I can pay the $2,000 for it, in the case of the adoption of the Coalition's plan, is that what you are suggesting? I think this is fodder for my point. Since a very large number of people won't want fibre to the house, why should not those who do, carry the cost (possibly $2,000 more or less as you suggest and I would accept) themselves of that luxury, and let the rest of us continue with our cheaper version…

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    67. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to John Nicol

      > I think this is fodder for my point. Since a very large number of people won't want fibre to the house, why should not those who do, carry the cost (possibly $2,000 more or less as you suggest and I would accept) themselves of that luxury, and let the rest of us continue with our cheaper version and at less cost overall to the country.

      Because if the connections and trenchwork are done whole streets at the same time, following on from doing the previous street, the cost per premises is a fraction of that if they're done piecemeal on demand. A couple of hundred, not a couple of thousand.

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    68. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, I too thank you for the debate as I have also enjoyed it.

      My parting suggestion for you is as follows:

      Please, as you should to be fair about anything, put your mind in neutral about the issue and then think of this re the NBN:

      If we accept that the NBN is not meant for faster downloads of movies, porn or pirated music but for something more constructive than that, what and for whom is it for?

      Considering that the NBN will not be finished before 2020, what will we be doing on the…

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    69. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathon Maddox,

      I take your point about the relative costs per unit in doing the connections in parallel rather than piecemeal but this proposal does seem to transgress the principles of freedom and egalitarianism in effectively requiring everyone to contribute even though as we know from the apalling take up rate that not everyone is interested in the NBN versus dialup or ADSL, let alone NBN versus NBN lite. What you are effectively saying that rather than your spending money to get the speeds…

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    70. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, just a couple of answers to your questions:

      The $30 plan you mention is NOT something the NBN offers. that is a plan offered by an ISP. That is, the ISP pays NBN Co $24 line access and they charge you $30, $6 of which is the data allowance you get each month.

      That is the same business model you have with your ADSL currently. Telstra is charging your ISP about $20 for the use of the line and your ISP is charging you $59.95 or more or less, depending on your data allowance.

      The price…

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    71. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Thanks again Rubens. I hope it all works out as you have described and all will be well and I will probably by then have got to like the idea. That had better be the case as I am going to have to live with it – but at 78 years of age, probably for not too long!
      Best regards,
      John

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    72. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to John Nicol

      John,

      Nobody is being forced to contribute anything as nobody is obliged by law to buy any telecommunications service whatsoever. The prices laid down for neutral access to the NBN's new last-mile infrastructure are quite comparable to those charged by the existing monopolist : a little higher than current charges for demonstrably better hardware.

      The only "force" involved is that Telstra is obliged to decommission its existing infrastructure as it is replaced. This means that if a customer…

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    73. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Thank you Jonathon for a comprehensive response to my questions. I do appreciate the comments you have made and understand that

      1. The NBN may be faster and more reliable while it is brand new in some places but I am not sure to what you are referring by "marginal locations" as most of what I would interpret as marginal will only be getting satellite which is much cheaper per unit than fibre, and will not be anywhere near as fast in the short term, unless there is a revolution in the process…

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    74. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      By the way, Jonathon:

      " NSW public schools are yet to switch to the National Broadband Network because it offers “no identified benefits” to the state’s 1.2 million students and teachers.

      The education department - locked into an existing long-term contract until 2015 - said it already has a powerful fibre optic network with child protection filters while the NBN only offers basic internet access…

      After complaints from parents, Duval High School’s bandwidth on the DEC network was increased to 100megabits per second to match the capacity of the NBN. An education department spokesman said the majority of its 2660 schools and TAFEs are connected by scalable symmetric fibre broadband services ”ranging in speed up to 200 megabits per second”"

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