Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Quantum Faster

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  • Tom Semmens,

    I've still got no idea what "fibre to the home" actually means at a hardware level. If it means actually rolling out fibre over the last mile to connect homes then all I can say is good luck to that. The cost, given that most councils these days require undergrounding, would chew though the $1.5 billion in a trice.

    Personally I believe the more realistic, and urgent, requirement is to get fibre to every roadside cabinet to speed up the speeds over copper. I would rather every household have access to an AFFORDABLE 2Mb dark connection than a pie in the sky trying to run-before-we-can-walk aim for gig ethernet or somesuch other silly aim.

    I say affordable because the elephant in the room of all this is takeup. The technophiles can already afford to pay for broadband and quite frankly I don't see why the taxpayer should subsidise increasing their download speeds. Most New Zealand households that don't have "broadband" (as in a dedicated internet line) because they can't afford it. I know that for a lot of New Zealanders these days those that earn under $40K form an invisible and undeserving underclass, but it seems to me that if we really want to justify the government spending this money for a public good then we need to tie this to eliminating the digital divide (with all the good economic, social and democratic outcomes that will bring). We need to be able to pirce point anything installed at not much more than what people pay now for a phone line - bearing mind a LOT of our fellow New Zealanders can't even afford that!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Interesting on the fibre-PAST-the-home bit. Will be intriguing to see where it actually goes to - will it be like gas pipes where they're in the street and you pay to get them up the drive?
    I'd almost prefer that - then subsidise those businesses/people that want to make the connection. Means only those people who want it (with heavy subsidies to make cost little of a factor) have to be connected at Govt cost.

    I'm probably 50/50 at the moment that Chorus will be, at least partly, sold down.
    - 50for: An asset management business like that is a whole separate ballgame to the retail focus they now seem to have. Vertical integration is no longer an an argument after op sep. Chorus would be incredibly well setup to win a number of regions given their existing fibre investments if they were freed up to play.
    - 50against: I guess Telecom can get involved while retaining Chorus by setting up JVs for the regional fibre companies and diluting their voting rights

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Re: Richard Worth - my money was always on either Paula Bennett or Anne Tolley to be the first cabinet minister to cover themselves in mud. But a dark horse has entered the race and appears to be galloping into the lead.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    my money was always on either Paula Bennett or Anne Tolley to be the first cabinet minister to cover themselves in mud. But a dark horse has entered the race and appears to be galloping into the lead.

    You think Richard Worth will be promoted to cabinet?

    Although, I note you're not the only one. I think it was a DomPost article which called him a "senior" government minister...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    But a dark horse has entered the race and appears to be galloping into the lead.

    Backwards. That he revised his entry under his own name is telling. Either he is remarkably stupid or... no, he is remarkably stupid, that is all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    On the technical front, I don't quite see what "dark fibre to the home" actually consists of, and you can bet that the government doesn't actually know.

    The fibres are going to go to the "home", or somewhere nearby, but from where? Cabinets? Telecom exchanges? "Exchanges" built by the LFCs? Is this going to be direct fibre (a link from each home to the exchange), passively split or actively split? What standards are going to be required (given that it's reckoned that fibre follows Moores Law, any active technology will rapidly fall behind and need upgrading).

    This isn't just geek detail, if it's got wrong, then the fibre could be a white elephant as end users stick with copper or wireless solutions. (There's a fairly good chance this'll happen anyway, especially if incumbent telcos upgrade their infrastructure in high-uptake areas).

    Also, this *is* a subsidy-based model. The government is offering to provide investment at a lesser return than the commercial partners, that looks to me like a subsidy.

    Still, I guess it's a reasonable stimulus to the economy. Keynes suggested we could:

    fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths ... and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory)

    This seems to be the shiny, 21st century version of that, down to the leases..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • James Francis,

    I'm going to expose my ignorance and possibly my ludditism (luddism?) but I have to ask this. How exactly will high-speed internet improve the economy? Because, if I remember rightly, that seemed to be the promise. We needed to have high-speed broadband to be competitive in the international marketplace.

    I'm not suggesting that we don't have it or need it but I do wonder how it will benefit us economically.

    I can understand that installing it will create (or at least, maintain) jobs.

    But what else does it do?

    As a product manufacturer or primary producer - which is what a large part of our economy is - will it make a material difference? You can send communications and documents pretty efficiently as it is; will a fraction of a second's extra speed make us more competitive?

    This is what baffles me. If you're uploading or downloading bucketloads of information such as movies - Peter Jackson comes to mind - I can see the advantage. And if you're doing that for your own entertainment, high-speed's going to be fantastic.

    Am I missing something here? What is the advantage to the economy?

    I look to be enlightened.

    St John's, Newfoundland • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Rich, it's, ya know, FIBRE. Just chuck it on a pole and then plug your Sky box into it. Or kettle. The business case is endless.

    Also, this *is* a subsidy-based model.

    Oh absolutely, I was just talking about the nature/scope/size of those subsidies.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    One thought on the HD TV as the "killer app". First, like Rich of Observationz above, I am not sure the government actually knows what it is talking about. If they are talking about IP TV then the whole thing is a inefficient waste of time, as outlined by Russell Brown. If they are ACTUALLY mean IP TV ON DEMAND then the bandwidth requirement simply gets out-of-control very quickly and is quite unmanageable.

    To me the "killer app" of dedicated internet to the home will be what it has always been - the delivery of voice services. 2Mb or above will allow users to move from the ultra-reliable traditional circuit switched PSTN to packet switched voice service with little or no loss of voice quality (well, OK, some) and reliability. By eliminating one leg of the current triple play most mid to high end consumers are sold (a traditional phone line, a mobile line and a dedicated internet line) you could generate a huge saving for consumers, which in turn would stimulate takeup of the new technology.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    Maybe it is a reflection on me personally, but it is funny how as I have aged, my reaction to these sorts of future plans announcements has gone from "Wow, this will be great when it happens..." to "Jeez, I hope I'm still alive to see this happen..."


    Ubiquitous ultra-fast broadband... Auckland-to-Hamilton four-lane highway... flying cars... personal jet packs... it's all the same.


    Yesterday is history,
    Tomorrow is a mystery,
    Today is a gift... that is why we call it the present

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 190 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    You think Richard Worth will be promoted to cabinet?

    Doh! My bad. Sorry.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    To me the "killer app" of dedicated internet to the home will be what it has always been - the delivery of voice services. 2Mb or above will allow users to move from the ultra-reliable traditional circuit switched PSTN to packet switched voice service with little or no loss of voice quality (well, OK, some) and reliability.

    Eh? Voice uses a few K of bandwidth, but it does need to be prioritised over other traffic (so that opening a web page doesn't make your call break up). The telcos are already moving to a system that will send voice up a DSL line in IP format.

    The reason Skype is crap isn't lack of bandwidth in the local loop, it's because Skpe traffic has no quality of service (QOS) guarantee across the network.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Auckland-to-Hamilton four-lane highway...

    Good one, Evan. So we can get to join the congestion queue at Mercer ten minutes earlier? It is used to take me 'round 1 hr 20 to drive to Auckland; now 2 hours is the norm. It is all to do with traffic build-up once you are are over the Bombay Hills.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2321 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Yesterday is history,
    Tomorrow is a mystery,
    Today is a gift... that is why we call it the present

    There's a job for you at Hallmark, whenever you want it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    as I have aged, my reaction to these sorts of future plans announcements has gone from "Wow, this will be great when it happens..." to "Jeez, I hope I'm still alive to see this happen..."

    Not meaning to threadjack, but I thought the same thing when hearing the NASA Orion project story on the radio last night - we're possibly going back to the moon in the 2020s (don't forget the chicks this time!), and maybe to Mars in the 2030s. First reaction: wow, I'll be getting somewhat old by then. The awe, wonder etcetera came a moment later. Sad really.

    That said I'll be about the same age as my dad is now if we do hit the red planet when they're expecting, so I'll be around to see it - it's a bit less certain but hopefully dad will too, fate willing.

    Dark fibre sounds vaguely healthy but doesn't stir the emotions quite so much.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1566 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    There's a job for you at Hallmark, whenever you want it.

    Geoff has a child, most likely a male child, aged four to ten. That is all I'm going to say.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    By eliminating one leg of the current triple play most mid to high end consumers are sold (a traditional phone line, a mobile line and a dedicated internet line) you could generate a huge saving for consumers, which in turn would stimulate takeup of the new technology.

    OMG yes! I look at what I could be paying for a real Skype number in NZ and what I'm paying for a landline and go "Why am I still paying this *&^! ~$40 a month landline?!!

    To which the answers are :
    - the fact that TelstraClear won't sell me shiny broadband and cable tv without said landline and
    - lack of availability of a handset which will support multiple skype accounts (me + flatmates, or my personal + my business)

    Right now I'd be happy to pay more than Skype rates to TC if they were offering me a reasonable VOIP solution for less than the cost of the landline.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    I also confess to luddism here, but can someone tell me whether wireless could conceivably work, and whether that would be cheaper?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 181 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    To get this job done, Mr Key will need a Quantum Faster Charger.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    I just think the "Party of Business" should be able to crunch figures correctly in an election year. Let's hope the National Party spreadsheet
    this realistically in the future, apparently business is their expertise , remember Labour are just Teachers and Unionists.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    Geoff has a child, most likely a male child, aged four to ten. That is all I'm going to say.

    Actually, it was Evan (me) and you are right. He is six. Hallmark probably wouldn't appreciate me ripping off quotes from Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda for greeting cards.

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 190 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Actually, it was Evan (me)

    You Hamiltonians look all the same to me.

    (By which I mean: oops, sorry.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Geoff has a child, most likely a male child, aged four to ten. That is all I'm going to say.

    Eh? Well, I used to have one but he is now 22 and looking for a job which might suit first class Hons in Philosophy from VUW.

    That is me, aged 4, in a time before the internet--and possibly even colour photography.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2321 posts Report Reply

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