There is no better alternative to a fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network in the long term for the National Broadband Network (NBN) according to seven of the country’s top ICT analysts.
As part of an ARN survey covering five areas – the economic and social benefits against cost; alternatives to a fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network; status of existing networks; the NBNco arrangements; and the public discourse on the NBN – the analysts agreed FttP was the best choice.
(The analysts’ responses will be detailed in a series of articles over the next few days. See yesterday’s article on benefits versus cost here.)
Other faster to build and cheaper options, such as wireless networks, were mentioned as alternatives by two of the analysts. However, in both cases – Layer 10 founder and telco analyst, Paul Brooks and Market Clarity CEO, Shara Evans – they concluded a FttP network was the better option.
“There are a number of alternative technologies which could be used to deliver 100 Mbps symmetrical customer connections,” Evans said in her response. “However, the greatest argument in favour of fibre is that the optical fibres themselves are capable of almost limitless expansion over time. The same fibre that carriers 100 Mbps today can already carry many gigabits per second with the appropriate equipment attached; and the terabit world is already becoming a reality deep within carrier networks.
“It is true that wireless technologies haven't yet reached their limit of capacity, but the fastest fibre service will remain faster than the fastest wireless service (at least with our current understanding of physics!).”
Ovum principal consultant, Leith Campbell, Frost & Sullivan ICT practice senior research manager, Phil Harpur, Gartner enterprise communications applications research vice-president, Geoff Johnson, and IDC telecommunications program manager, David Cannon, also all agreed that from a technology perspective the FttP decision taken by the Federal Government over its original fibre-to-the-node (FttN) plan was the right one.
“The main issue in terms of cost will be timing,” IDC’s Cannon said. “Fibre technology is evolving rapidly and in three years the cost to deploy the last mile component of the NBN will be much cheaper and easier than it is today. With the right back haul infrastructure in place, copper based technology will easily suffice for the next 5 years but ultimately, fibre is the right decision.”
Buddecomm analyst, Paul Budde, said to date nobody in the world had come up with a better technology.
“The only debate is timing when do you want to do this.,” he said in his response. “We don’t need it now, but it will take 10 years to build and there is no doubt that by that time we do need it. If we wait till we have 100 per cent proof that we need it, it will then still take 10 years to build. Can we, as a country afford to wait?”