Blog

9 December 2018

I happened to walk down our street today, enjoying the beginning of summer, and I noticed two new distribution pits recently re-installed: One just next door to me, and the other some way down the street. I could lift up the 20 kg lids, set aside the gaskets and peer into two remarkably clean pits.

I have no doubt that these will be the FTTC distribution points. I anticipate they will contain VDSL modules by mid next year.

I have estimated an 80 m run distance from the new pit to my house where the cable already enters, plus another 20m run inside my house to where networking equipment would go.

I'm pretty pleased to be informed I'm getting FTTC. Even more pleased that the people down the end of Creek Road (in the WEPN20 area) are also getting FTTC, and not HFC which I consider inferior.

However, it seems everyone north of Quarry Rd in Thorneside is getting HFC. So too all the properties just west of me in St James's Park (stage I). So we seem to be a little pocket of FTTC. Good fortune has smiled upon us!?

21 April 2018

It has been almost one year since I gave up on fibre to this area, and this week my property's status changed from "Planned FTTN" to "Planned FTTC" also known as Fibre to the Curb (or kerb).

I am happier about this, for sure. It's still not gigabit, but it will probably be good enough, especially in relation to how CVC capacity retailing turned out.

In fantasy land, the Fibre-to-the-Curb story goes like this: Fibre is run along every road, past every driveway and every house's kerb-side "pit". In the pit NBNCo installs a small adapter box that connects the NBN fibre to your house's phone line. The phone line then serves a double purpose: it carries data to your house, and it also draws a little bit of electricity to power the adapter box.

In reality, the kerb-side pit near your house is going to be a small "pass through" pit with no space for anything but mud. For about every 12 houses there is a much larger pit called a "distribution point pit", and that has some room. NBNCo will run multicore street fibre to these DP pits (sometimes DP poles!).

In the pit, the fibre core is then carefully opened and attached to a waterproof, black rubbery adapter called an openable junction or multiport. This gives the next technician clean access to individual fibres.

Finally, the house phone lines are brought 3-at-a-time to these black boxes called DPUs which also plug into the fibre.

In 2016, NBNco placed an order for $28 million worth of 4-port DPUs (model NDD-4100) from Sydney-based company NetComm Wireless.

The NDD-4100 DPUs are waterproof and temperature-resistant "nodes". Like node cabinets, they convert GPON (fibre signals) to VDSL2 (copper signals). The difference is that they will always be within 150 m of a house, can only do four houses, and don't have batteries to replace.

Assuming good cables, this will provide a maximum download speed of 100 Mb/s (upload 40 Mb/s). Inside your house you will still need a regular NBN VDSL modem (aka NTU) and a "reverse power feed" (ie a power plug or "wall wart").

I want to mention something about acronyms. The industry seems to have been using acronyms FTTdp (Fibre to the distribution point), and FTTC (to the cabinet). But NBNCo prefers to use FTTN to mean fibre to the node (actually a cabinet) and FTTC to mean fibre to the curb (actually a DP pit). NBNCo say that this avoids confusion in the market.

Having fibre available at the DP pit now makes upgrading to a true fibre lead-in much cheaper. Homeowners can decide later to upgrade to FTTP when they feel the 100 Mb/s is a limit, and pulling fibre 150 m past 12 houses is a lot cheaper than pulling 2 km past 180.

23 April 2017

The first meeting was held today at noon in Creek Road Park. Three properties were represented (one each from Harrogate Tce, Leicester St, Clive Road).

There were insufficient people present to form the initial association. But we did chat for a while, and my notes follow:

So, in conclusion: insufficient support; and no further activity towards an area upgrade was planned.

I'd like to thank everyone who attended today. At least we gave it a try.

9 April 2017

Another two positive responses received:

Including myself, this makes four indications of support.

7 April 2017

So far I have received four responses, summarised as:

Even though this looks like ≥25% support, it only represents four samples, which is not convincingly representative.

So, I'm feeling a bit down over the level of responses to the flier. Feedback I've received from friends about the flier is that it was too dense and had too many acronyms. I suspect that if I want feedback I have to make it friendlier and very easy to give that feedback.

1 April 2017

Finished delivering the remaining fliers to all the houses in WEPN20.

31 March 2017

Went to Officeworks to make some copies of flier #2, which is a slightly updated version of the flier I distributed earlier this week. Delivered about another 50 this evening, covering Serena and Fullham Courts.

No contact yet; everyone's been busy with cleaning up after the strong winds and rain.

29 March 2017

I put out 25 fliers this evening, just around Harrogate Terrace. I also finished up the why page, and made sure I could still back up the claims made in the flier.

Found a great video of a Telstra contractor pulling fibre to a house. He makes it look easy.

Update: Heavy rains are now probably destroying most of those leaflets.

28 March 2017

The main page is pretty close to finished, now. It will be sufficient to act as a place to put up FAQs, and eventually to indicate the status of the upgrade progress.

I think it's important that the site looks professional. I'm not a professional designer, though.

27 March 2017

This evening marks the beginning of WEPN20, and I thought I'd better start a journal for tracking what progress is being made.

I'll start with a short history. Like most, I have been interested in the progress of the NBN. I only get about 1.5 Mb/s over ADSL2 and I use fibre devices at work. For a long time, my home address showed "not yet planned" for roll-out, and then suddenly the build-out for Capalaba just south of us went ahead. Our local federal member released a map, and then my address was "planned". Planned for FTTN! (Jan-Jun 2019)

I had read up on FTTN and decided it was not something I could stomach. I had noticed a news story about two successful NBN "Area Switches" so I decided to try to organise an area switch for my own area.

Actual details were scarce, and the Technology Choice process was under change, but I read all I could about Area Switch. The fuzziest detail is precisely what an 'Area' is. A phone call to 1800-OUR-NBN had the call centre worker avoiding answering the question; and an email to the technology choice team remains unanswered.

With more research I concluded than an 'Area' is most approximately a Telstra Distribution Area. My house turns out to be in distribution area WEPN20. I found the Telstra pillar at the far end of Creek Road just before Birkdale Road.

My first step was to contact the local city councillor, to see if anyone else was dong the same thing. He did not know of anyone, but encouraged me over email to continue. So I sketched out a plan of necessary steps.

My local councillor then advised that I bring this up at our local Neighbourhood Watch group, and I did so yesterday. I'd been working on a paper flier to drop in mailboxes, which I presented. Some feedback I received was very useful, especially in terms of what the people there knew about the NBN. The discussion there also encouraged me to put up a website.

Which brings us to tonight. I registered wepn20.net, set up a small web site with a map (thanks, OSMTools Easymap) and drew up a plan as a process diagram.

It's all quite crude at the moment, but over the next few days I plan to make it readable, informative and then I will start the letter drop.