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Aussie Broadband kicks off network upgrade

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Aussie Broadband has announced an upgrade of its nationwide core network, as well as purchasing international capacity across subsea cables, with both projects to be complete by late April.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) retail service provider said it would be using Cisco’s ASR9K and NCS5500 platforms for the core network upgrade, allowing the network to support up to half a million customers after it connected the 100,000th customer in January.

Upon the project’s completion, Aussie Broadband will have a 400Gbps backbone between points of presence (POPs) that are in the same state; 200Gbps between Sydney and Melbourne; 100Gbps between Sydney and Perth; 100Gbps between Melbourne and Perth; 40Gbps between Sydney and Brisbane; 20Gbps between Sydney and Adelaide; and 10Gbps between Adelaide and Perth.

“We’re also delighted to say that we will shortly complete protected 10Gbps links to all NBN POIs other than Tasmania, with the final four links due in the next 30 days,” Aussie Broadband Managing Director Phillip Britt said.

Aussie Broadband also worked with Telstra Wholesale on the network upgrade and expansion, with Britt saying his company has already seen a reduction in outages and in areas affected by its stop-sell policy.

The RSP has also been purchasing international capacity, including on the Hawaiki, Southern Cross, and Vocus subsea cable systems, with plans to purchase capacity on Indigo West in the future.

“We have purchased capacity on both legs of Southern Cross and the new Hawaiki Cable system to San Jose and Los Angeles. To match this, we will establish points of presence at Coresite SV1 in San Jose and Coresite One Wilshire in Los Angeles,” Britt said.

“We have also purchased capacity on the Vocus Australia Singapore Cable and will acquire capacity on Indigo West once available, again to be matched by a point of presence at Equinix SG1 in Singapore.”

Speaking with ZDNet in November, Britt had flagged a AU$4 million investment to upgrade its network and capacity as it adds between 5,000 and 7,000 new customers per month.

Its initial network was built for around 130,000 subscribers, but Aussie Broadband predicts that it will reach around 180,000 customers by June this year.

Britt also sees Aussie Broadband growing to more than 200 employees by mid-2019, as it has a policy of one support staff member per 5,000 customers.

Speaking on Aussie Broadband’s NBN outage in October, Britt revealed to ZDNet that it was the result of a betting agency customer being targeted during the AFL grand final weekend.

“We have a customer that’s a betting agency, and we believe that we were targeted to target them,” the MD explained.

“What happened was there was a lot of voice requests hitting our firewall, and we probably didn’t have enough capacity in that firewall infrastructure, and we were fairly open about that. Basically, that triggered this cascading failure from there, we lost authentication out to our equipment, so about half the customers couldn’t authenticate anymore.

“Part of what we’ve done to fix that is all the authentication mechanisms now have a separate direct pathway to each of the POIs and the aggregation points that we use, so that if that firewall infrastructure gets hit again … we might lose access to some of our internal services. We’re still working that through, getting those changes made.”

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Nissan gives its new Note e-POWER a smart hybrid upgrade

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Nissan has revealed its newest electrified model, with the 2020 Note e-POWER tapping the second-generation of the automaker’s gas-electric hybrid drivetrain. Headed to Japanese dealerships next month, the new Note previews some of the new Nissan design language we’re expecting to see on the all-electric Ariya crossover next year.

Unlike the Ariya, however, the e-POWER system in the 2020 Note isn’t entirely electric. Instead it relies on electric drive for the wheels, but a gas engine that’s brought along to act as a mobile generator. With e-POWER cars, the combustion engine isn’t directly connected to the wheels, but Nissan can also use a smaller – thus lighter and cheaper – battery than in an all-electric model like the Leaf.

Now in its second-generation, in the case of this new Note the e-POWER system has a more powerful motor and an improved inverter. The motor gets 10-percent more torque and 6-percent greater output, Nissan says, for improved perkiness from a standing start. It should also be smoother in acceleration, and quieter in the cabin.

As for the inverter, that’s 40-percent smaller than the old model, and 30-percent lighter. Combined with a more efficient gas engine, e-POWER as a whole is more economical; Nissan says it also should be quieter, since the engine runs at a lower RPM than before, and requires fewer engagements. Nissan even tracks road noise to decide when to turn the gas engine on, picking times when background sounds from the road surface conditions and vehicle speed are louder.

There’ll be both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions of the car, the latter using a second electric motor. Both have a new aesthetic which Nissan is calling “Timeless Japanese Futurism”: think a bigger grille, lots of “V”-shaped style elements, and sharper crease lines. LED projector lamps are used at the front, while 16-inch alloy wheels are standard.

Inside, there are Nissan’s favorite Zero Gravity seats, with larger armrests. The rear bench gets reclining seat-backs. A new dashboard design features a larger digital display, and options like wireless phone charging and ProPILOT with Navi-link. That taps the navigation system to monitor for upcoming bends on the highway, and automatically adjust the adaptive cruise control settings appropriately.

What we shouldn’t expect, though, is the new Note e-POWER in the US. Nissan decided to discontinue sales of the model here in favor of the Kicks crossover, and shows no indication of changing that decision even with this new version. Pricing will kick off in Japan at just over $19k, but while we may not get the new Note, it’s likely that more e-POWER models will make it to the US.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz Metris returns with better safety features and more standard kit

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The 2021 Mercedes-Benz Metris is returning next year with a bevy of new standard kit. Also known as the Vito, V-Class, or Viano in some markets, the Metris is a tad smaller than the full-size Sprinter van, but it’s significantly larger than other midsize vans like the Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City, and Nissan NV200.

New for the 2021 Metris is Mercedes-Benz’s 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic gearbox, which is now standard across all variants. It replaces the old seven-speed auto shifter of the outgoing model, and it still comes with Dynamic Select driving programs like Sport and Comfort modes. Additionally, the new gearbox has a new manual mode, and you can toggle between the gears using the standard steering-mounted paddle shifters.

All variants of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz Metris remain powered by a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine – the same as the outgoing model. It still produces 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, sending power to the rear wheels via its new nine-speed transmission.

Similar to the outgoing model, the new Metris will be sold in two wheelbase options. The standard variant has a 126-inch wheelbase, while the longer versions have a stretched 135-inch wheelbase. Meanwhile, the passenger variant has the same 126-inch wheelbase as the base cargo version and can be fitted with up to eight seats.

As such, the Metris can be optioned with a myriad of door and window configurations including a sliding passenger door, swing-out rear doors, and a rear liftgate. The cargo variant can be fitted with an optional plastic floor while some models have wooden floors. Regardless, the load compartment comes fitted with lashing rails on the sidewall and interior panels. The floor even has a rail system for easier load anchoring.

Style-wise, the new Metris is different from the outgoing model with a new front grille and optional painted bumpers. Customers have the option of choosing a chromed front grille with shiny louvers for a distinctive and more refined look. The expanded range of paint hues now includes two shades of gray (Graphite Gray and Selenite Gray) and a new Steel Blue paint job.

As expected from a Mercedes-Benz, the 2021 Metris is loaded with advanced safety kit. Standard equipment includes attention assist, headlamp assist, crosswind assist, tire pressure monitoring, trailer brake control, and hill start assist. For the first time, active brake assist and active distant assist DISTRONIC is available, while all trim models receive a digital rearview mirror for better rear visibility even when fully loaded with cargo or passengers.

Inside, Metris has a restyled dashboard with new ‘turbine’ air vents. The seat materials are also new, while the driver gets to fiddle with a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity. Meanwhile, the popular Metris Getaway Camper Van has privacy curtains, a pop-top roof, an integrated table, and optional solar panels among many others.

You can expect the new Mercedes-Benz Metris van to arrive at U.S. dealerships in mid-2021. Pricing will be announced next year, but we’re expecting the new Metris to cost more than its direct competitors in exchange for better versatility and enhanced refinement.

2021 Mercedes-Benz Metris Gallery

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Porsche Taycan sets a Guinness World Record for drifting

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Porsche has set a Guinness World Record for the longest drift using an electric vehicle. The EV the sports car maker used to set the record was the popular Porsche Taycan. The record was set at the Porsche Experience Center Hockenheimring.

Porsche instructor Dennis Retera did 210 laps drifting around a 200 meter-long drift circle to set the record. For the entire 210 laps, the front wheels never pointed in the same direction as the curve. After spending 55 minutes sideways around the track, the driver covered 42.171 kilometers.

That distance was enough to allow Retera to grab the world record for the longest continuous drift in an electric car. His average speed was 46 km/h, and a rear-wheel-drive Taycan was used, which is already available in China. Porsche did have to switch the driving stability program off and says that drifting the car was very easy once that was turned off.

The driver says that the vehicle had sufficient power to move around the circle sideways and was stable thanks to its low center of gravity and long wheelbase. Retera is currently the Chief Instructor at the Porsche Experience Center Hockenheimring. Previously, he was a competitor in carting, single-seat racecars, and endurance racing.

He says that it was tiring to keep his concentration high for 210 laps. He also said that the wet asphalt of the drip circuit doesn’t give the same grip everywhere, so he concentrated on controlling the drift with steering rather than the accelerator pedal to reduce the risk of spinning. Guinness World Record official Joanne Brent meticulously documented the record attempt. She’s been supervising record attempts for Guinness World Records for over five years. The video above shows parts of the record-setting run.

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