UFB Residential Connections: The Last Mile, Almost

On the 21st of May, the Commerce Commission published a draft report on their demand side study of high speed broadband. One of the more interesting bits has to do with the connection of houses to the Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) network.

Not All Contracts Are Equal

The sharp negotiators at Chorus managed to strike a last mile UFB deal with the Ministry of Economic Development that’s twice as good for suburban areas as the Local Fibre Companies Ultrafast Fibre, Enable, or Northpower received. This has implications for uptake, as retail Internet Service Providers marketing UFB products who will have a higher upfront cost for adding UFB subscribers to the Chorus network than they will for other networks.
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Universal Service & Access: We’re doing it wrong

(This post first appeared as written below in March 2012)

Universal Service and Universal Access

Universal Service is the concept of universal availability of connections for individual households to public telecommunications networks. (ITU)

Universal Access is the concept of providing every person a reasonable means of access to publicly available telecommunications. (ITU) This could be by payphones, community centers, computer rooms at schools, or free wifi hotspots.
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CMAR: Multi-Access Radio for Remote Telephony

Around ten thousand of New Zealand’s most remote households connect to the public switched telephony network (PSTN) via customer multi-access radio (CMAR). Although copper loops connect up these neighborhoods of between ten and sixty houses, the loops are disconnected from major fibre optic backbones because of the cost of running cable across rough territory. These systems provide excellent voice service, but data service is limited to 14,400 bits per second – or around 0.1% of the capacity of a modern ADSL connection.

In the recent demerger of Telecom New Zealand, the CMAR network has gone to Chorus, as indicated the Asset Allocation Plan (PDF).

The diagram below illustrates a typical CMAR topology. It shows a local copper loop linking houses, an outstation linking the loop to a radio tower, and a radio linking network connecting the system back in to a regional centre with fibre optic network access.
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Digital Divide: Three Classes of Internet Citizens

The government’s Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programs will greatly improve broadband across the country, but over the nine year long process will create three classes of Internet citizens.

75% of households will eventually have access to ultra fast fibre, with an unlimited potential for speed and traffic utilization. Plans starting at 30mbps download and 10mbps upload (30/10mbps) and faster with 150 gigabytes per month (150GB/month) of traffic are on the market today, and users should reasonably expect to be able to download up to a terabyte of traffic a month at 100mbps as new plans come on the market.
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The Police, PPDR & The Digital Dividend

PPDR is an acronym for Public Protection and Disaster Relief, and in the context of New Zealand’s Digital Dividend spectrum, it stands for a new cellular data network that New Zealand’s Police want to build alongside existing commercial carriers 2° Mobile, Telecom, and Vodafone. The Police have been interested in such a network for several years, and a government working group for the issue has existed since 2006.

The network proposed by Police for the 700MHz Digital Dividend band is separate from and in addition to the Tait-supplied digital mobile radio network based on the APCO P25 standard. The Tait P25 network is being put in to upgrade Police radios, while the Digital Dividend PPDR network is intended to provide high-speed data communications to First Responders.
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Digital Dividend Discussion Submission

In August of 2011, New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development Radio Spectrum Management group published a discussion paper entitled “Digital Dividend – Opportunities for New Zealand”. The Digital Dividend is defined as the part of the radiofrequency spectrum that is able to be freed up following the switch from analogue to digital television, however this discussion paper only considers the “700MHz band” of spectrum and its most likely repurpose for use by cellular telephone and broadband providers. I discuss the Digital Dividend in some detail in an earlier blog post.

This discussion document is part of a consultation process kicked off by the Ministry in April 2011, with an Auckland meeting of industry participants held under Chatham House Rule. A public workshop was held in September to discuss the paper, and written responses were due for submission on Friday the 7th of October. These submissions, including the one below, will be published by the MED, as the initial positions of various industry participants. Comments on submissions will then be sought in a cross-submissions period, with responses due the 9th of November.
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