Consumers and businesses connecting to the forthcoming National Broadband Network (NBN) should experience minimum disruption in terms of in-house equipment, an industry expert has claimed.
Communications Alliance NBN lead consultant, Dr Paul Brooks, said providers were looking to take advantage of existing telephony sockets and Ethernet ports to deliver the next-generation network. His comment follows the release of the advisory body’s new end-user premises handbook, which aims to provide guidelines to wholesale providers and network operators on how users will connect to the NBN within their premises.
“There is a lot of uncertainty for NBN services around what it will mean in terms of changes inside the premise, and what old equipment businesses will need to swap out for new equipment,” he explained. “In the in-house/in-premise part of the network is highly variable, whereas the main network can be treated with a cookie-cutter approach – much of the process for equipment there is to select one piece of equipment, then buy 100,000s of them.
“Houses and business environments are very different from one to the other, particularly when you go from single dwellings to a block of units, of industrial estates. Businesses also have long leads times for planning technology change swapping out old equipment and financial requirements.”
Using standardised Ethernet ports or telephone sockets should make it easy and cost-effective for users to gain access to the NBN, Brooks said. However, he predicted equipment associated with ADSL broadband services could eventually become redundant.
“All the design for inside-premise services is being developed to make the new network look like the old network to existing ports and equipment,” he said. “Users won’t need to change much at all – they might be able to toss out the ADSL model and connect directly to the Ethernet plug in the wall, or a standard analogue telephone socket.
“The NBN will be much like HFC cable services in-house, where there’s just a box on the wall, and the data and telephone service parts are being dealt with through the connection outside. All the magic for services to work on the new technology will happen outside the wall, on the network itself.”
Overall, Brooks was pleased with the Communication Alliance’s progress on NBN to date. His priority for the next 6-12 months is turning theoretical and abstract discussions around NBN infrastructure and services into realities for end users. This will include an upcoming whitepaper looking at how to migrate existing Internet services from old to new networks without altering current conventions. The paper is due out in March.
Brooks also flagged harmonisation of wireless and satellite services for wholesalers, as well as assisting Government on related legislation for green estates, as key to the Communication Alliance’s agenda.
“I think the first half of this calendar year will be frantic in terms of activity on many different fronts working in parallel,” he said. “Discussions so far have been abstract and theoretical – networking costs are very important, but don’t mean much to the man on the street.
“This [end-user premises handbook] is the first input that directly relates to the network parts that concern the average Joe.”