Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Shooting for the Moon

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  • Che Tibby,

    rb, sounds like all this digging will be taking place in the suburbs.

    any word on whether they'll also be stringing residental apartments?

    lots of people with disposable income there, and the big players won't give us fibre...

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    Can I just ask the PA crowd what kinds of speeds they think they'd like? I'm curious as to how fast users think they want their connections to go (I hear everything from 10Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s to "I just want it to cost less, I don't care about the speed").

    Cheers

    Curious Paul (not representing anyone... just asking)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Amsterdam is flat and I would guess built on fairly soft mud or sand. I dunno about Seoul. Ask yourself the cost of digging through clay or volcanic rock in Auckland, and doing that up hills and down dales. Putting it all underground will be far to expensive. Period.

    I would suggest that any government look at overhead cables where possible, with a 20 year plan to underground it all eventually. I guess it just depends on if people can put up with something about the size of a small hose running along the poles in their street.

    But from experience - if we don't go overhead, the cost overruns will the whole thing an expensive pipe dream and it'll be dropped.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    OK - I work in the TV end of this biz - we make settops both for IP and traditional cable plants in the US - read the following with my bias .....

    I think that the killer app here ought to be TV - a competing service to Sky - problem is, as Russell points out, economies of scale in NZ aren't the same as in larger cities off shore - after Sky and FreeView we probably don't have room (in our collective wallets) for another pay-TV - which is sad because a decentralised IPTV infrastructure where anyone can put a TV channel on the local or national fibre (just pay for the upstream - and real-IP multicast, done right, genuinely allows people to share streams efficiently) would be wonderfully cool idea

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    @paul b. as long as it costs less and has comparable speeds to overseas cities, i'll be a pig in mud.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    rb, sounds like all this digging will be taking place in the suburbs.

    any word on whether they'll also be stringing residental apartments?

    I think there's an obvious case for connecting hi-density urban residential areas first: you get more residents for your dollar.

    We're just going to have to live with the fact that it will be a long time before three-quarters of the population has fibre running into their homes and workplaces, and that some places will have gigabit fibre while others make do with 50Mbit/s across the copper from the node.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Can I just ask the PA crowd what kinds of speeds they think they'd like? I'm curious as to how fast users think they want their connections to go (I hear everything from 10Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s to "I just want it to cost less, I don't care about the speed").

    My main current speed restriction is bringing down video, which I get at about quarter screen, but it comes down at about real time. If that could be bumped up to full screen, and increased in quality a bit.

    So that would be about 6 times my current (IHUG/Vodafone) connection, which when it's really flying torrents down at about 300KB.

    Beyond that I'd like to move onto video phone. That would require a big increase in uplink, which I guess means fibre to my door.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    I really like the whole 'idea' behind all this, but at the same time have a nagging feeling that it's going to be something that spends forever being fought over/knocked back, and never actually (even getting close to) happening...

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    @Kyle - not necessarily... upload speeds can be increased dramatically over DSL - ADSL, the current choice, is asymmetrical. VDSL can be offered symmetrically and VDSL2 is in the ballpark for the speeds on the thread so far (50Mbit/s down, 30Mbit/s up)... but that's dependent on distance from the cabinet/exchange (up to 1km).

    There are alternatives to fibre - I'm concerned (personally - still not representing!) at this fixation on One Technology to Rule Us All. I'd rather see a technology-neutral approach (to a lot of things but this in particular) and an emphasis on the service. I too want HDTV streaming to my home - I don't care if that's delivered over satellite TV, terrestrial, wifi, LTE, WiMax, copper, fibre or cable. It can be bean cans on string and I wouldn't care - I just want the service.

    Cheers,
    Paul

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I too want HDTV streaming to my home - I don't care if that's delivered over satellite TV, terrestrial, wifi, LTE, WiMax, copper, fibre or cable. It can be bean cans on string and I wouldn't care - I just want the service.

    And the point being that you can haz that right now, via DTT and, soon, satellite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    @Paul Brislen: I'd be happy with 10Mb today (current speed is 1.5Mb on a good day) but remember, this is an arms race. Viewing the average news site's web page now takes 500K - 1M of data (HTML, javascript, images, embedded hooplah, etc.). If you want your web page to load in a second, then you need between 4 and 8 megabits per second of bandwidth (and low latency).

    But in the three/five/six/seven/nine years it takes to build the infrastructure, this average load size is going to increase. Anyone who builds infrastructure for ten years that can only handle today's load is a fool.

    Computer users know how this works: every few years they buy a computer that's twice the speed of the last one, but nothing runs twice as fast. The consumers of those resources (the programmers, the web page designers) have no pressure to minimize their burden on the resources, only to contain the irritation and frustration of slow programs/pages to an economically-sufficiently small group.

    I think rather than ask for a specific number out of the blue, ask what you're hoping to enable and work from that. It sounds like people should be able to get HD IPTV, phone, video-chat, and web all over the same connection. It's hard to estimate IPTV requirements, but a site I found on the net (the ultimate in scientific citations!) says 25-50Mbps per house. That's today. I don't think 1Gbps is unreasonable.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Can I just ask the PA crowd what kinds of speeds they think they'd like? I'm curious as to how fast users think they want their connections to go (I hear everything from 10Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s to "I just want it to cost less, I don't care about the speed").

    I think it'll vary. As someone in the media business, currently sneakernetting video across the city, I'd like 100Mbit/s and I'd pay $400/month for it. Unless, of course, someone will do it cheaper ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    I would suggest that any government look at overhead cables where possible

    And this is nowhere nere as bad as what I saw on my last trip to Asia...

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    nere?

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • John Morrison,

    We are in the wop-wops but, we have fibre running right past our gate. Our cabinet is ~5km away and the best speed we get is ~ 1Mb/sec although routinely 300-400kb/sec.

    We would love to get high quality tv/movies, does that require 10Mb/sec?

    At the moment, National don't care whether it is feasible or not, because they have the headline, Key is seen as a guy looking forward, business backs the idea etc etc. Details, details we'll worry about that later.

    Cromwell • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Fish,

    Paul B - The problem with speed is if you have more you use it for different things.
    Enough to stream full-screen video would be ideal, but for what I am doing now (web development and heavy web use from home) my download speeds of (sometimes) 3Mbit (on a full-speed connection) is almost acceptable. However the upload speeds are a real problem.

    Regarding the laying of fibre, over the past year I have been watching as the inner city suburbs of Auckland have been dug up for new footpaths and marvelling at the wasted opportunity. Why not lay fibre (or at leats put in some conduit...) I guess they will just have to dig them up again!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Another dimension to the build-for-the-future message can be found in Telstra Clear's residential fibre network in parts of Wellington. I'm told it's really badly engineered, to the point where it's going to become irrelevant before too long. Bummer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    exactly... just give it to me now. NOW!

    sorry. It's not like there's anything to watch at the moment (Battlestar Galactica season four? Anybody?)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The other thing I'd like would be to get things more 'in one'.

    I don't want a telephone line, a fibre optic cable and a dish on the side of my house.

    I should be able to get all those things through one 'thing', I don't particularly mind which.

    The other thing I'd like to speculate on is high quality internet to the lamppost outside my house. If I have a wireless connection on my computer, there's no need to dig up my front lawn/add more overhead cables to get it into my house, I just need it to come close enough to pick up the signal. My ex-girlfriend lives in a region in greater LA where the local council has an ISP that puts transmitters on telephone polls, and then she pays for a login to use that access via her laptop.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Has realism set in :-)

    We have Telstra fibre at both Auckland and Wellington (fringe CBD) offices. With 1MBit of bandwidth, coz it's uneconomical to go over that. I'd assume they'd connect any kind of premise if one was willing to pay the price, no?

    I'm unconvinced on the upgradability of passive networks. If it gets built out with 100G bandwidth say, wouldn't all the users need to upgrade equipment at once for 1G bandwidth? Personally, I'd want to see a very solid answer on upgradability before any FTTH rollout was started - otherwise we might get another situation like in Wellington.

    Also, I think one has to be careful that the system is affordable. If 10% of households took the service up, that'd be around 30k of capital per line. So about 3k a year just to cover the interest. It gets better as takeup increases, but unless you made fibre compulsory, i can see a lot of people sticking with copper/sky/freeview.

    Maybe the best business model for this is the Iridium one: get wealthy and dumb investors to fund it, let in go bankrupt, then have a new owner step in without the debt.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm unconvinced on the upgradability of passive networks. If it gets built out with 100G bandwidth say, wouldn't all the users need to upgrade equipment at once for 1G bandwidth?

    That's my understanding, yes. It seems to be one of the big drawbacks of passive networks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    To his credit, Williamson has given a much clearer steer as to the nature of the investment vehicle for National's project: it's the New Zealand Institute's FibreCo, by whatever name. Operators large and small would have the ability to take a stake alongside the government in the big company that builds the network.

    But most importantly completely separate Chorus from Telecom and "nationalise" it (through public-private investment) into this FibreCo vehicle - that's a big play for a National Govt.
    It also doesn't line up with Key's initial criteria at all - but personally I prefer it.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But most importantly completely separate Chorus from Telecom and "nationalise" it (through public-private investment) into this FibreCo vehicle - that's a big play for a National Govt.

    Yes. I didn't have time to cover that angle this morning, but it would be something akin to a hostile takeover by the government. How would you value Chorus? Who would pay for the structural separation from Telecom proper, with whom Chorus shares many systems?

    Doing it with Telecom as a willing partner would take 12-18 months and cost a lot. If it ain't willing ...

    I don't think National has done any of the real thinking about this. If David Skilling's reading, perhaps he could help?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Colin Ross,

    We need to be vigilant here.
    Political animals are likely to attempt to string cables in the air - we have far too many already .
    We aspire to being a civilised first world society - so lets ensure that our employees in Wellington do their jobs properly..

    Auckland • Since Jan 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Paul B: a couple of years ago I visited my sister in Long Island, NY, where Verizon (or Vonage? can't remember, started with V) was providing fibre to their house, with a rate of 50Mbps down, 10 up. I did a download to my laptop from a local Debian mirror and had the unusual experience of see the laptop's ethernet card max out. Web browsing was amazing - pages seemed to load in a snap. It made for a marvelous user experience. Their household had VOIP phones too. I would certainly like 50Mbps to my house. Dunno what I'd pay for it though... make me an offer.

    The other day someone on the ProjectX blog was quoting a person from Trademe about download speed. They said that users seemed to have a pretty fixed mental budget for time they would spend on the site, so the faster they could browse, the more browsing they did before moving on. So there is a monetary incentive for content providers to try and get out of the bandwidth arms race: skinny pages = (more revenue generating page views + lower bandwidth costs) = profit.

    As far as putting my money where my mouth is, I pay through the nose to get 4Mbps down/2 up from TelstraClear, which in my mind provides a minimally acceptable user experience for browsing and certainly beats the pants of ADSL when it comes to uploading content to Flickr, websites etc. I am unwilling to pay another $20 per month for 10Mbps, because I won't use the extra data allowance that comes with it. (Why oh why can't providers decouple bandwidth from data caps in their plans?)

    If I could get the same or better bandwidth from another provider who weren't bastards about peering, and didn't have a broken proxy cache I would move in a heartbeat. (TC's cache keeps serving me stale pages from certain sites, I think it does the wrong thing with Etags and cache headers).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

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