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NBN has purchased almost 30,000 kilometres of copper

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(Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet)

The company responsible for deploying Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) has almost doubled the total amount of copper it has purchased since October 22, 2017.

“As at 19 February 2019, NBN Co has purchased 29,460km of copper cable, which has typically been used for the link between existing pillars and new nodes.”, the company said in response to a Senate Estimates Questions on Notice published this week.

“A significant proportion of this figure is also due to FTTC network construction for short extensions of copper lead-in cables to the FTTC DPU location.”

NBN had previously disclosed that it had bought 16,600 kilometres of copper almost eighteen months ago.

The company also revealed that less than half of the premises in its fixed wireless areas had taken up such services, and fibre-to-the-node (FttN) uptake was tracking lower than the company needed to meet its financial goals.

“In Fixed Wireless areas, which have been [ready for service] for 18 months or more, the percentage of premises with at least one active service is 45.18 per cent,” the NBN said.

“Because there is no compulsory migration off legacy copper services in fixed wireless areas, people can choose to maintain a copper service either instead of, or as well as, connecting to fixed wireless.”

Despite the low uptake, the technology has still suffered from congestion.

At the start of the year, the NBN had given itself until September to have less than 1 percent of its fixed wireless towers suffer from congestion.

The company defined congestion as being a 30-day average busy hour throughput of under 6Mbps.

By the middle of the year, the NBN said it would be set to offer a best-effort fixed wireless service that it claimed would offer 60/20Mbps in non-busy periods. It also has plans to drop its top-tier 25-50/5-20 Mbps plan by the end of 2019.

In another question answered this week, NBN said it needed a take up rate of 73 to 75 percent to meet its financial targets, however in areas where FttN has been available and the old copper network is switched off, the uptake up rate has sat at 72 percent.

NBN also disclosed that between July 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019, 114,093 technician appointments were missed, with 35,546 being completed later on the same day.

“A missed appointment refers to where a technician did not attend the premises within the agreed appointment window, as per the service level schedule,” the company said.

In many of these cases, the technician turned up earlier or later than the stipulated time but completed the job on the day. The number also included some cases where the end-user was not in attendance or where bad weather restricted the ability to complete the job.

NBN further said its average monthly download per end user was 235GB at January, with the median monthly download being 125GB.

On February 19, NBN had 5936 employees and 663 contractors on its payroll, with 762 staff in its IT department, and 71 in its corporate affairs division, 30 of which were on its NBN local teams. The corporate affairs division was budgeted to cost AU$21.7 million for the 2018-19 financial year.

In the Australian federal budget delivered last night, the Regional Broadband Scheme charge that helped fund NBN’s loss-making satellite and fixed wireless services was slated to be cut from AU$10 a month to AU$7.10 and be indexed with inflation.

However, it is not clear how much of the Budget will be enacted, as the government is expected to call a May election this weekend.

In its most recent set of financials, NBN reported its half-year revenue had hit AU$1.3 billion, and announced a 65 percent improvement in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation, up from the negative AU$1.4 billion reported this time last year to negative AU$477 million.

Earlier this year, retailer Vocus said the variable nature of the CVC pricing model used by NBN was incompatible with the fixed rates paid by consumers and that the economics did not stack up.

Vocus said NBN pricing was “simply too high”, and it was cashflow negative after providing modems and backhaul.

Consequently, the company said it would focus on selling NBN only where viable and shifting towards fixed wireless and mobile solutions. Vocus pointed to non-NBN services being simpler with lower operating costs and 5G creating a path for business applications as reasons for the switch.

Related Coverage

Australian Budget 2019: NBN regional subsidy charge reduced

The subsidy charge to help fund the NBN’s loss-making satellite and fixed-wireless regional networks has been reduced from AU$10 to AU$7.10 a month.

Canberra kicks in AU$220m to regional telco program

The government will fund two more mobile blackspots rounds with AU$160 million, and a Regional Connectivity Program with AU$60 million.

TPG quarterly profit drops 76 percent after Huawei ban

While the mobile network abandonment brought down TPG’s Q1 results, the telco also made less revenue thanks to the broadband market erosion caused by the NBN rollout.

NBN partners with Cisco for business solutions and compensation

The two will combine on business solutions across connectivity, security, collaboration, and productivity, as well as a marketing campaign and a rebate program.

Software update takes out NBN satellite users

Remedy offered to users still affected is to power cycle modem and NBN network termination device.

Vocus getting out of NBN land grab to focus on fibre links and wireless

NBN is complex and economically unattractive, and retail will shift towards fixed wireless and mobile, the company has said.

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Check out the 2+2 Chevrolet Corvette that never was

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The 60s was an iconic era in the automotive realm in the United States, with some incredibly popular cars getting their start then Vehicles like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, and Dodge Charger, to name a few. Sometimes it takes one vehicle to change the industry and spawn many similar products from the other automakers. Case in point is Ford and its Mustang, which kicked off the pony car era eliciting responses with other iconic vehicles.

Another of the iconic Ford vehicles in the era that sold extremely well was the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird routinely outsold the Chevrolet Corvette. Early in its production, the Thunderbird was a two-seat sports car very similar to the Corvette. It grew in later generations, becoming a 2+2, offering a back seat to carry more passengers. The vehicle in the image above looks like the iconic 60s split-window Corvettes that are so valuable today, but there’s a key difference.

The difference is readily apparent when you look at the side view image in the Instagram post below, where General Motors Design shared photos of a one-off design buck. A design buck is essentially the shell of the vehicle used by automotive designers of the day to get the vehicle’s design just right. This particular example was never powered and never cruised the streets.

The car was a response to the Thunderbird, adding backseats to the Corvette in 1962. Sadly, the 2+2 Corvette was never built, and reports indicate the design buck was later crushed. Another interesting tidbit is that GM reportedly brought in a Ferrari to help with the styling and proportions of the car.

As for what finally became of the project, a GM executive named Bunkie Knudsen, who was part of the styling team but wasn’t a fan of the project, reportedly worked to get the project scrapped. He believed it would taint the Corvette brand and wouldn’t sell in large enough numbers to justify building it. The only Corvettes ever sold by GM have all been two-seat sports cars.

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Alpha Motors Superwolf is a completely decked out electric pickup

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Alpha Motors unveiled a new version of its all-electric pickup called the Superwolf. The difference between this particular version of the truck and the ones that have been shown before is that the Superwolf is completely decked out with all sorts of accessories you might expect to find only on the aftermarket. One of the more interesting accessories seen on the truck is tube doors similar to what you commonly see on Jeeps.

Superwolf also has custom KMC wheels with large off-road tires, a custom front bumper with tow rings and skid plates, as well as a complete roof rack featuring an LED light bar and large locking case. In the bed of the truck is a rack that adds more style to the truck and supports the roof basket.

Under the doors are also compact step rails that look like they are intended to protect the vehicle’s body while off-roading. The truck also features wide fender flares and looks fantastic in general. Other interesting features of the truck include a bed cover that appears to be made out of aluminum and a rack that spans the bed allowing for items to be attached on top of the bed itself.

Several other accessories are available for the truck, including a bed extension and more. Other than the accessories, Superwolf features a driving range of up to 300 miles per charge. It has two motors for four-wheel drive and can reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The truck has a tow rating of 6724 pounds and features a rapid charger with battery cooling and heating.

The truck’s interior can hold four passengers and has a digital display for the driver along with the wide-format center display. Bluetooth connectivity and premium sound are also featured. Superwolf can be reserved now with a starting MSRP listed at between $48,000 and $56,000.

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Classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am racer heads to auction

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When it comes to muscle cars of the 60s, one of the most iconic is the Chevrolet Camaro. The value of a normal Chevrolet Camaro from the era is often very high. The value of this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am is even higher as it’s an actual successful racing car from the era. This vehicle is the first of six Sunoco Trans Am Camaros that Penske Racing built.

This particular car has an extensive racing history with drivers Mark Donohue and George Follmer behind the wheel. The car has been completely restored by Kevin McKay in its iconic Sunoco racing livery. The car is said to be one of the most significant Chevrolet-powered racing cars ever built. Because of its rarity and racing pedigree, the car is expected to bring as much as $2 million at auction in Pebble Beach.

The car features a 302 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 engine and a single four-barrel carburetor. It’s estimated to produce 450 horsepower and has a four-speed manual gearbox along with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. The front suspension is independent wishbone with coil springs, while the rear has a live axle with leaf springs, a setup common in the era.

The racing series the car was built for required a 302 cubic-inch engine. The Z/28 was born due to the need to produce examples for homologation. The Z/28 became the Camaro performance production model, with 602 examples being built in 1967. The first 25 of those cars off the assembly line were sent to racers. This particular car was the 14th produced and was sent to Roger Penske.

This car is the first of only six Penske Camaros built between 1967 and 1969. The auction house says that over $330,000 was spent to restore the iconic car completely. The car comes with a file documenting its extensive racing history and photos of the car as it was discovered and during its restoration.

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