New Zealand Broadband Infrastructure Deployment

By John Nixon 18/10/2009

On Friday I attended here in Auckland the New Zealand Govenment’s latest workshop on this country’s National Broadband Network.

I was frankly very positively surprised by the presentations.

The NZ program differs substantially from that of Australia. The initial thust is to encourage, possibly help fund, the deployment of dark fibre around, to and between the main population centres of this country.

Then a new Kiwi “NBN Co” will partner with some 25 proposed regional fibre companies who will “Light my Fibre”….

I must say I have sincere reservations about this, having observed the extremely variable performance of the similar number of District Health Boards in the country.

Anyway, it’s not for me to decide.

We had a really excellent presentation from Ian McCullough on progress with a new NZ guideline for home cabling standards (TCF Code of Practice). Then two power companies gave us their recent experiences with installing fibre “up in the air” alongside power cables, with the comparative costs of putting it underground. Aerial deployment as you would guess is up to 10 times cheaper than underground. But I was impressed by both companies’ efforts to blend the fibre into the existing view of the power cables.

But the workshop’s program made no mention of the bits between the “dark” fibre and the home installation for distributing the services.

A fibre optics cable running past your house is not like a power, gas or water main. You can’t just tap into it, install a meter and pay as you go.

Between the ‘backhaul’ or wholesale ‘fat internet pipe’ and your home service, there must be a very sophisticated secondary network of local fibre services management and delivery.

It’s the ‘FTTH’ bit. This delivery node is called a “headend”. It’s a bit like the old telephone exchange. The service radius from each headend or exchange is typically about 15 to 20 km to the home or business subscriber. The headend equipment pulls in the wholesale services (phone, internet, TV and many new projected additional services), agregates them, and sends all this out over a single fibre to your home.

This is where you enable the various services to subscribers, paramaterise them for each client, control and monitor the Fibre to the Home service delivery. This is a very critical part of the whole project, but so far, has not been taken into consideration (not publically at least).

Again and again, nobody mentions TV distribution. Everybody just deduces that TV will be delivered as IP packets.

NO! WRONG! Neither Australia nor New Zealand are ready for IPTV. Nor is IPTV ready for these countries.

And many housing estates and high-rise buildings just don’t allow individual subscriber antennas.

The “media wavelength” or RF Overlay allows us to multiplex on the same single fibre, at very low cost, ALL the current and future TV programs (plus digital radio), Free to air, satellite etc without hogging bandwidth on the data channel.

These media offerings arrive in their native format, no conversion, just as if everybody had their own antenna(s) on the roof.

This is generally not understood by the majority of FTTH-supportive people.

Anyway thanks MED, it was a very worthwhile workshop today!


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  • […] that direc­tion from var­i­ous sec­tors etc: indeed, fel­low blog­ger John Nixon has in fact writ­ten a lit­tle on the sub­ject. And Abhiskeh Tiwari has pointed out that Fin­land has just made inter­net […]