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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Heat On The Way The NBN Is Being Implemented Is Really Rising. Pollies Take Note!

Last week we had a very disappointing announcement on the NBN that was ‘spun’ as an initiative to improve the ‘customer experience’.
Basically the issue was that the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) roll out was found to be not fit for use without considerable changes and that the roll-out to about 3 million homes was to be delayed by six to nine months.
The Fin Review put it best with this article:
  • Nov 27 2017 at 4:24 PM

Glitter-to-the-turd NBN applies world class positivity to our broadband woes

For a supposedly apolitical government-owned business, the company rolling out Australia's beleaguered National Broadband Network has certainly developed an ability to spin bad news in a way that would make even the most brass-necked government minister blush.
On Monday NBN introduced Australia to yet another new phrase to add to the broadband list. Alongside fibre to the node, fibre to the premise and fibre to the kerb, we can now add 'glitter to the turd.'
In the morning journalists had received advanced warning that NBN's chief executive Bill Morrow was poised to make a "major announcement regarding customer experience improvements," at a lunchtime press conference.
What could it be? we wondered. New pricing plans? Removal of CVC charges to make capacity more affordable for ISPs? Upgrading unfortunate fibre to the node customers to the superior technology their luckier neighbours are getting?
Nope, nope and nope.
Morrow announced that NBN would be halting the rollout of the HFC part of the NBN (which will eventually cover 3 million metropolitan customers) in order to fix up problems experienced by some of its initial 370,000.   
There will be delays of about six to nine months for customers who thought they were about to be connected, while its workers go back and work out why some of its existing users have had problems with patchy connections and disappointing performance. 
What great news for all customers eh? Three cheers for the NBN.
Of course it is better that NBN sorts out its problems with the HFC deployment before over 2 and a half million more people join the party, but (most) Australians are not mugs and should resent the bizarre attempts by the company to claim kudos for fixing problems many had predicted in the first place. 
The current HFC footprint (which for the non-indoctrinated is the cables that supply Pay TV) already only consists of cables formerly owned by Telstra, because NBN dumped the ones acquired from Optus after finding they weren't up to scratch.
HFC was one of the key aspects of Malcolm Turnbull's pitch for switching from Labor's "gold plated" fibre to the premise NBN, to a multi-technology-mix. He regularly pointed out the folly of Labor discarding it because it is capable of delivering fast speeds in the right conditions, and said it was already laid and good to go.
The fact that NBN is scrambling to fix problems should be acknowledged as yet another embarrassing setback, rather than dressed up as some kind of triumph of customer service.
This is how NBN announced the delays in its press release: "NBN Co takes customer experience improvement program to new levels ... New HFC rollout initiatives announced to help improve end user experience and retailer satisfaction." 
I'm all for looking on the bright side, but that is like an attempt at satire that would be rejected by the writers of ABC's Utopia for taking things too far .
More here:
ItWire also has a good take:

Turnbull's magic-mushroom NBN is slowly unravelling

For months now, we've been told that fast broadband would be arriving sooner because of the change in technology that the Coalition Government decided upon, with HFC cable and fibre-to-the-node being the saviours of the project. Now that dream is unravelling. 
The brakes have been well and truly slammed on by the NBN Co, with delays of six to nine months in getting any HFC connections up.
The Telstra HFC cable network is being shared by the NBN Co, Telstra and Foxtel; the NBN signal travels at a low frequency, the other two at higher frequencies. Apparently, at lower frequencies the signal does not travel all that well.
The equivalent of bandages will have to be applied. But the long-term solution will be to replace cable with fibre.

What was to have been a marathon — fibre-to-the-premises for 93%, satellite and fixed wireless for the rest — was attempted to be turned into a sprint by the agile and innovative Malcolm Turnbull.
Alas, the dream of the silver-haired visionary now seems to be dead.
Lots more here:
Really this is going severely pear shaped and it really is difficult to see and great outcomes.
The only good thing is, for me, that I get to keep my present decent service for a further 6-9 months!
Thank heavens! Maybe things will be better by then!
David

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