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Enterprise customers allow for fibre to go deeper into NBN: Rue

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Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia has hit back at criticisms of its targeting of business customers, stating that the move is both unsurprising and has put more fibre deeper into the network.

“From the original implementation study and in early corporate plans and statements of expectations, it was very clear that NBN will be offering services that retailers could provide to small, medium, and large businesses. We’ve never hidden this and indeed announced last year our intent to generate a billion dollars in revenue from business,” Rue told Senate Estimates on Tuesday night.

“Yet, it seems to have been a surprise to some and arguments have been made as to why we should limit our entry in the enterprise space.”

Rue stated that NBN’s internal rate of return of 3.2% is not used for its business deals, which he said are “entirely commercial” and require a return within the first five years if a deal is to proceed.

Over the past few months, Telstra CEO Andy Penn has consistently stated the telco was not expecting for NBN to divert capital into chasing business customers, and that the impact of NBN gaining a piece of Telstra’s enterprise lunch has been higher than planned.

In regards to its targeting of business customers, Rue also said deals like the one inked with Australia Post would allow for fibre to be pulled deeper into the network.

“When NBN connects post offices all over the country to fibre, that fibre can also be used to connect other premises over time,” he said. “This drives savings and cost reductions over many years.”

See also: Snake and ladders as Australian broadband realigns towards NBN

Under questioning, NBN chief customer officer of business Paul Tyler said the company does not break out business average revenue per user because enterprise customers are spread over multiple sites, unlike residential customers.

Tyler added a cross-subsidy existed between NBN’s business customers and the rest of the network, which he said would allow it to meet its “broader social obligations”.

NBN defended its use of “industry engagement consultants”, with Tyler saying the team educates the market about options to upgrade their connections, and that the company has contacted hundreds of businesses.

Earlier this month, Vocus CEO Kevin Russell hit out at NBN for directly signing up customers, and said the government should make it so that NBN cannot enter into tenders or contracts with end-users, cannot negotiate buying commitments or terms of service with customers, cannot sign confidentiality agreements with users, nor recommend retailers to enterprise customers.

“NBN should be a good thing for the Australian Enterprise market — but only if it operates within its original remit as a wholesale-only, transparent, and non-discriminatory operator,” Russell said.

“Right now, NBN’s behaviour in the market is in danger of undermining and penalising those who have invested and, want to invest, to support infrastructure competition.”

Speaking on Tuesday night, Tyler said NBN only enters into direct contracts to upgrade physical infrastructure, which was different to offering carriage services, something he said NBN would never enter into.

Tyler added there could be situations where enterprise customers contact both a retailer and NBN to upgrade their connection and receives a pair of quotes back.

“I can’t control which one of those quotes they will choose to take up,” he said.

Responding to its recent formal warning from the ACCC for providing special terms to Macquarie Telecom, NBN said the consumer watchdog found there was no commercial harm because the pricing information concerned was released to the wider market “well in advance” of the product being available.

Related Coverage

NBN rejects speed test reality for one of its own

If everyone in the world held still for a handful of years, and someone measured the potential of technology, Australia could rank third in the world, an NBN report reckons. Please clap.

Telstra must take part of the blame for NBN creation: Chair

Telstra chair John Mullen says Australia would have provided 100Mbps broadband for a majority of the population without NBN.

ACCC to look into affordability of 12/1Mbps NBN plans

Regulator worried people cannot get a basic NBN service at the same pricing level as ADSL.

Vocus wants NBN to stick to its original wholesale remit

The telco is unimpressed with the government-owned, so-called wholesale directly signing up customers.

NBN formally warned after giving MacTel a helping hand

NBN hit with court-enforceable undertaking after providing special terms to Macquarie Telecom.



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Rumor claims Mercedes-AMG C63 will go hybrid

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One of the hottest AMG cars made by Mercedes-AMG is the C63. This car has traditionally had a big burly V-8 engine under the hood, making gobs of power. A new rumor has surfaced that claims that will change with the V-8 engine out and a hybrid four-cylinder powertrain in.

Automotive enthusiasts know that means an exhaust note that will lack the throaty rumble of the V-8 engine, but the hybridized four-cylinder will reportedly have massive amounts of power. What’s expected to live under the hood of the car is the AMG M139 turbocharged engine, which is used in the A45 S, combined with an electric rear-wheel-drive unit and integrated starter generator.

The turbocharger used on the four-cylinder also has electric assistance to reduce lag and improve throttle response. When all the electric and gas power is combined, rumor has it total output will be over 550 horsepower with maximum torque up to 590 pound-foot. The car will have active all-wheel drive, but a Drift mode will be standard for those who feel like putting on a smoke show.

All that power goes to the road via a nine-speed sport transmission, and the car will feature adaptive suspension and staggered tires. The vehicle will use a 400-volt electrical architecture rather than the 48-volt system used in other C-Class cars. Another interesting tidbit is that the car is tipped to drive about 40 miles on electricity alone.

One downside with hybridizing cars is the additional weight, with reports indicating the electric components add about 250 kilograms pushing the car close to 2000 kilograms overall. The upside is the smaller four-cylinder engine is reportedly 60 kilograms lighter than the outgoing V-8, and the vehicle will have a 50:50 weight distribution. The car is expected the land in the UK in early 2022, with the reveal by the end of the year.

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L starts at $37,000

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Many SUV fans and Jeep fans are excited to hear that an all-new three-row Grand Cherokee was coming. Jeep has officially announced the starting prices for the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L line, including the entry-level Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit models. This vehicle marks the first three-row Grand Cherokee Jeep has ever offered.

The Laredo trim will start at $36,995 and promises a host of standard safety features. Standard features include adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring along with all new LED exterior lighting, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tip and slide second-row seats, and a 10.25-inch frameless digital driver cluster with customizable menu options.

The next step up the ladder is the Limited model starting at $43,995. It includes Capri leather seats, a heated steering wheel, standard heated seats in the first two rows, remote start, and a power liftgate. The Overland model starts at $52,995, and 4×4 versions of this model include the Jeep Quadra-Trac II system and a unique Overland appearance.

Overland models get Nappa leather seats and door panels, standard ventilated front seats, premium navigation, LED ambient lighting, length adjustable front-row cushions, hands-free foot-activated power liftgate, and a dual-pane sunroof. Overland buyers can also opt for the optional Trail Rated-Road Group on 4×4 versions that adds skid plates, electronic limited-slip differential, 18-inch wheels, and all-season tires.

The Summit model starts at $56,995 and packs quilted leather seats, real wood veneers, 16-way adjustable front-row seats, and much more. The Summit Reserve starts at $61,995 and features quilted Palermo leather, open-pore waxed walnut wood trim, ventilated second-row seats, and a 950 Watt McIntosh audio system. None of the MSRP’s include the $1695 destination charge.

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The Hyundai Ioniq 5’s cleverest trick happens when the EV is standing still

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The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 may be the automaker’s most dramatic – and appealing – production EV so far, but it’s the technology the automaker is pushing for when the electric hatchback is standing still that gives a taste of what’s to come. Announced earlier this week, the Ioniq 5 adopts a distinctly retro-futuristic aesthetic with its sharp creases and segmented LED lights.

At the front, the squared-off headlamps squint out from under a frowning hood edge. EVs often do away with a traditional grille – since the cooling needs are in different areas to those of internal combustion vehicles – but Hyundai has still applied one for design reasons, and with great result.

Cleanly fared-in bumpers and that sharp Z-shaped zigzag side crease lead around to a tapering hatchback rear. There, the rectangular light graphic makes another appearance, but without looking like there’s been a compromise in practicality with the tailgate opening. Factor in wheels that luxe sibling Genesis could be proud of, and you have a real looker of an EV.

According to Hyundai, we can expect a 72.6 kWh battery and either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive for the US-spec Ioniq 5. 350 kW DC fast charging means a 5-percent to 80-percent top-up in under 20 minutes, assuming you can find a sufficiently-speedy charger. In the AWD version, with 302 horsepower and 446 lb-ft of torque, figure on 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

The general response to how the Ioniq 5 looks and its performance numbers have been positive, but Hyundai is pushing the functionality you use when it’s standing still just as aggressively. V2L – or Vehicle to Load – basically allows you to use the Ioniq 5 as a huge mobile battery pack. Think along the lines of a Tesla Powerwall on wheels.

There are two power outlets in the Ioniq 5. One is in the rear, under the second-row seats; it’s active whenever the EV is switched on. A second is located alongside the charging port on the outside, and it’s capable of supply power even if the car is off. A converter, Hyundai says, can be used for running high-power electronic equipment off that port.

Relying on an EV as a mobile source of power isn’t new. We’ve already seen experiments with V2G – Vehicle to Grid – where electric cars act as temporary storage for times of low-cost excess power in the grid, and then feed it back when rates would typically be higher. The Plug & Charge standard beginning to get more commonplace among EV chargers also includes bidirectional charging elements alongside its zero-login session management.

Still, it’s not exactly a well-known feature at present, though that could change in the near future. The outages in Texas already this year, along with sky-rocketing costs as gas and electricity demand surged far beyond predicted levels, have demonstrated just what an impact climate change could have on utilities. Even if the grid is up to the task, natural perils like forest fires can still force a switch-off, as California has discovered over several seasons.

Home backup generators, which typically run on natural gas, are available but can be expensive, both to install and – depending on prices when you need that power – to run. Meanwhile home batteries, like those from Tesla and others, are increasingly capacious and can store power from solar, but are still expensive. If you don’t have solar panels, meanwhile – or you have the wrong sort of system installed – then once the home batteries run down you’re left out of power.

If your home battery is part of an EV, however, you could in theory drive to a charger and top up. That does, of course, rely on chargers themselves having power still, and it would leave the home offline while you were away charging, but a smaller fixed battery could potentially take up the slack during that shorter period.

For now, that sort of V2L application is beyond what Hyundai is explicitly talking about with the Ioniq 5. Its focus has been more on charging things like laptops and electric scooters, or running useful appliances while camping. Those sort of applications are probably going to be more readily understood to a mass market audience still learning to see an EV as more than just a car which happens to run on electricity.

Hyundai will explain more on that front as we get closer to the 2022 Ioniq 5’s arrival in US dealerships this fall. Down the line, though, it seems increasingly likely that the concept of an electric car using its power simply to drive around will be considered short-sighted. That’s only going to be accelerated as we see more examples of just how fragile the grid we rely on every day can be.

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