Revealed: NBN Co develops proposed product set for FTTN, with diluted speed guarantees

Posted on: Tuesday, 15th April 2014

NBN Co plans to duplicate its FTTH product set for its FTTN/B network but will not guarantee minimum download speeds above 25 Mbps or upload speeds above 1 Mbps, CommsDay can reveal.

According to a discussion paper intended for circulation to its product development forum, NBN Co will offer similar speed tiers across both FTTH and FTTN/B networks, with the caveat that the latter will offer “up to” speed tiers at the 50 and 100Mbps download mark and 5/10/20 and 40 Mbps upload mark. The FTTH platform offers these as minimum speed tiers, subject to the limitations of contended backhaul.

Although the discussion paper emphasises harmony between FTTH and FTTN/B product sets, it also canvasses some significant differences for its copper offering which may raise substantial industry discussion.

For example, while NBN Co provides and installs a network termination device in the home as part of its FTTH offer, it will not provide a VDSL modem and voice splitter for FTTN. The onus will instead be on the retailer to provide and install the modem. A user self-installation option will also be offered, on condition that NBN Co waives its liability for any resulting under-performance.

However, NBN Co does envisage it will offer a “professional” installation service on behalf of RSPs and users for a commercial fee.

More controversially, NBN Co also seeks to waive responsibility for individual line speed evaluation on its FTTN network. It says “selecting the correct speed tier will be the responsibility of the end user and the provider.”

“NBN Co does not intend to prevent end users and/or providers from ordering the ‘Up To 100Mbps’ speed tier for a service that would typically experience speeds of less than 50 Mbps,” NBN Co says in the paper.

NBN Co says it considered waiving speed tiers for its FTTN product set but, on balance, wants to retain them so retailers can charge a premium for higher speed services.

According to the paper, NBN Co also wants to extend its existing four traffic classes of service to FTTN, which includes a guaranteed throughput for voice services, as well as the charging mechanisms for access circuits, connectivity virtual circuits and network-to-network interfaces that characterise its existing FTTH pricing. However, in view of the special nature of VDSL it also proposes to add “stability” profiles, for example which reward high speed and low jitter in favour of stability and data quality or the opposite for lines of low quality.

It also proposes that the existing PSTN environment be retained side by side with FTTN for at least 18 months.

Multicast functionality would also be offered over FTTN, while higher speed business services over the platform could also be facilitated by copper bonding of two lines. NBN Co says it is actively considering this option.

The paper implies that NBN Co favours serving 200 premises per node. With NBN Co planning to roll out FTTN to nearly half the national fixed line footprint, this suggests a network requirement of up to 30,000 nodes. The paper is seeking industry feedback through May with a view to a issuing response by that month’s end.

Grahame Lynch

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