Google Fiber Lighting The Way For Our NBN

Even though I generally truly hate the term “superfast broadband” – (the corny piece of nomenclature insisted upon by our politicians, and which ranks up there with “cyber-this” and “cyber-that”) – the pending arrival of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and its “superfast” speeds in many areas of Australia will mean many things to many people.

Proponents extol the virtues of the benefits it will bring to the economy, beyond just the massive increase in potential download and upload speeds. Opponents will tell you there is no evidence such infrastructure can do any of this.

“The catalyst is Google Fiber, the search-engine giant’s fiber-optic network being tested in the Kansas City area that advertises speeds of up to a gigabyte per second — a rate that massively exceeds the average Internet speeds at homes hooked up with cable modems.”

“”The whole startup thing in Kansas City is like this huge growing beast. It’s got this crazy momentum.””

“The house has been full since mid-December with Payne and two others. One of the rooms also is reserved for fiber tourists who want a place for a day or two where they can download anything faster than they could elsewhere.”

Google Fiber has been around for a little over six months in Kansas City. And it has already invoked “crazy momentum” for new digital/internet-based startups, and presumably existing businesses too.

It’s actually stimulating investment – with almost identical technology to our NBN.

Proponents also suggest that continuing with the existing copper network is still the way to go.

Nuh-uh!

They refuse to accept the much higher maintenance costs, and the fact that the shorter term solutions may actually end up costing us more in the long run, and save us little in the short term.

The proposed alternative would also require a great deal more electricity, and therefore higher operational costs, and subsequently generate a larger environmental footprint.

A full fibre solution does not require any electricity in the distribution network whatsoever.

“The big question is just that if you go with fibre just to the node, does that node become active [it does – ed]. If it becomes active then you’ve got to connect power to it and that’s a significant cost.”

The state of the existing network is also in doubt:

“Other infrastructure leaders subsequently concurred and pointed out that maintenance to Australia’s copper networks (both PSTN and HFC) has practically collapsed over the past three years because there has been little reason for commercial companies to spend money on maintaining networks that are scheduled to be ripped out of the ground. There’s now a very real question of whether it would be feasible to rely on any infrastructure, which relies upon existing copper, even if we wanted to.”

Other countries – (where similar or same technologies as the alternative proposal already exists) – are even signing our praises:

“Also Australia is getting fibre to the home, which currently means about 100 megabits but in practise is almost infinite as technology advances mean we can encode more and more data into the simple turning on and off of light down a fibre. In contrast, fibre to the cabinet is already getting towards the physical limit of the copper infrastructure rolled out in the twenties and thirties and any further advances require short line lengths and hugely complicated – and energy hungry – signal processing.”

The evidence continues to mount in favour of the NBN, yet for some, evidence is simply not enough. These people cannot see that people are demanding the NBN as soon as possible.

These are the people who would hold Australia back, just for a few cheap political points.

And their point isn’t even valid anyway.

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  • Some good thoughts here and thanks for the mentions of Kansas City. Slight correction, the first installation of Google Fiber in KC was actually on November 13th 2012, only 3 months ago starting tomorrow. Yet we’ve already seen plenty of demand for it, despite the large ISPs disagreeing (in their defense, there isn’t demand for it … at the exorbitant prices they want to charge!)

    I completely agree with you that politics are always trying to get in the way of these efforts (or take undue credit for them).

    Keep up the good fight in Australia!

    • Thanks Ben!

      I called it “six months” from the time Google nominated KC until now, as the planning presumably started pretty much straight after their decision to go with KC.

      Given we are – (presuming we don’t have a change of government) – pulling fibre through to 93% of all premises in the entire country, our planning stage has been very complicated.

      We just wish it wasn’t such a politically charged subject down here right now.