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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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iPhone 14 May Debut In An Online-Only Event With Pro Price Hike

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The iPhone 14 will bring plenty of changes this year, but most of them are apparently being reserved for the Pro models. The base models are also expected to feature a big change, but not one that some people will like — Apple may finally say goodbye to the 5.4-inch iPhone mini and go in the opposite direction by introducing a non-Pro iPhone Max. While that would be a tragedy for those who love small iPhones, it would also consolidate Apple’s smartphone collection and make it easier for buyers to understand what’s available.

The next-generation iPhone lineup will reportedly have two 6.1-inch models and two 6.7-inch models split between base and Pro lines. While there will be some upgrades across the board, the biggest changes will no doubt be seen on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The most visible will be — at least according to the rumors so far — the switch to a pill-shaped cutout, which would mean finally ditching the bucket notch that debuted with the iPhone X in 2017. New and improved cameras will likely be found inside the iPhone 14 Pro models, too, as well as a faster processor.

These upgrades won’t come without costs, however, and Apple may have buyers shoulder some of that. An investor note shared by Philip Elmer-DeWitt claims the Pro models will experience a $100 price increase. The current iPhone 13 Pro already starts at $999 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max begins at $1,099, so that would be quite a significant price hike. Apple is also expected to increase the storage in these iPhone models to make those figures easier to swallow, but it may still cause some interested buyers to pause when deciding which of the four iPhone 14 models to pick.

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Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept Teases Electric Muscle Cars To Come

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Three patented new features help give the Daytona SRT an edge. The e-Rupt multi-speed transmission system offers an “electro-mechanical shifting experience that’s pure Dodge,” the automaker says. The new transmission has a PowerShot boost system similar to the one included in the hybrid versions of the upcoming Dodge Hornet. Press a button on the steering wheel and you’ll get a bit of extra horsepower and some torque along with it — it’s for those occasions when you need to power past something on a highway, or if you need to take off from a standing start fast enough to tear a small hole in the fabric of time and space.

There’s a new aerodynamic pass-through feature named the “R-Wing” that gives the concept a performance edge while connecting it with its NASCAR record-breaking ancestor. Then, for muscle car enthusiasts who are upset the switch to electric may preserve someone in their vicinity’s eardrums, there’s the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust. It’s an industry first, and as loud as a Hellcat at 127 decibels, so even though you’re being powered by a battery, people will still hear your muscle car coming. The system is a patented industry-first feature. Sound is produced electronically before being forced through an amplifier and “tuning chamber.” It is then blasted out of the car’s back end, recreating the muscle car audio experience without any of the emissions.

The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT is just a concept, so while you may be impressed by the noise both Dodge and its car are making, you won’t actually be able to buy one. However, there’s a good chance most — if not all — of its features will appear in Dodge’s first commercially released EV, which is scheduled to arrive in 2024.

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The Reason Why Lamborghini Will Never Build A Manual Transmission Car Again

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By January 2014, very few Gallardos were ordered with a manual gearbox — so few, in fact, that AutoGuide quoted company CEO Stephan Winkelmann as saying that the automaker’s team would have to double-check with the dealership from which the order was received to make sure the manual transmission request wasn’t an error.

Besides the lack of demand for cars with a manual transmission, Lamborghini’s advanced driving tech starting with the Huracán also warranted complete control over the vehicle, and the manual use of a clutch could potentially cause disharmony. In 2016, Reggiani said in an interview with Road & Track that engaging the clutch “creates a hole in the communication between what the engine is able to provide and how the car reacts to the power of the engine.”

The executive also said during the interview that even though the decision to drop the manual transmission option wasn’t easy, the automatic chassis control systems on newer Lambos meant there wasn’t really any other option. “If you want to control the power, the clutch must be under the control of the brain of the car, not your brain,” Reggiani said.

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