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Render taking Australian fibre know-how to the States



Image: Ross Kummer, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Despite Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) turning its back on a mostly all-fibre network long ago, one Australian company has been able to take the knowledge from that time to the world.

Co-founded by former NBN head of construction Dan Flemming alongside Biarri Networks co-founder Joe Forbes, Render Networks is now involved in the rollout of 3,000 miles of fibre in Arkansas, as well as passing over 105,000 homes in Springfield, Missouri.

Speaking to ZDNet on Tuesday, CEO Sam Pratt said the company was getting some wins on the board with municipal rollouts, and helping existing infrastructure operators overlay fibre.

“These companies, they usually are doing this the first time, especially here in the United States, where it’s a very disparate market. So there’s no NBN Co here in the US. There’s literally hundreds, if not thousands of private operators that are using a mix of public and private funding to build much smaller projects all over the country,” Pratt said. “And they are generally Greenfield projects, so they’re doing this the first time.”

What Render brings is an ability to digitise the construction process and remove a need to rely on paper, thereby lowering the number of physical inspections and audits required due to information being sent back from the field.

“Sometimes people don’t believe us when we put it out there. But just by removing the low hanging fruit from the distributed infrastructure rollouts, you’re able to almost go twice as fast and then about a 20 to 30% cost saving is what we’re seeing in terms of the benefit of going faster, and also less wastage, less material shrinkage, because resources all of a sudden understand that they’re much more accountable than they have been with fluid past projects,” he said.

“So miraculously fibre doesn’t go missing.”

During 2014, Render Networks was tapped for use in the infamous Melton trial, with the government-owned broadband wholesaler afterwards labelling the technology “horrendously expensive”, before having to back away from those remarks and stating it had reached most of its goals.

Although not picked up by NBN, Render continued doing business with NBN delivery partners, as well as being used on the UFB in New Zealand.

“We’ve still got a nice little business in Australia, but simply, we need to invest in the US if we’re really going to scale it and turn it into something significant, and make good on the unique approach,” Pratt said.

“We’re not relying on construction crews having to remember what they did … when they get around to doing their book work at the end of the day or the end of the week. We’re using today’s technology, mobile technology, in the field to explain to a field crew exactly what they need to do, really simplify that field process, and then capture the data in real-time and make it available to all projects.”

With the United States Federal Communications Commission recently putting $20 billion into its Universal Service Fund, Pratt said the business is in a good spot.

“We’re just excited to be a small Aussie company over here, having a go … and some technologies have certainly been grown on the back of the NBN, and Australia’s leading experience on the NBN is really being picked up and utilised at scale all over the place,” he said.

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The Bizarre Porsche Cayenne That Was Never Actually Made



Porsche’s engineers eventually came up with two designs for the Cayenne-PMF, both of which varied predominantly over the tail light. But ultimately, the entire idea was canned. With the Cayenne-PFM convertible idea, Porsche originally set to answer four key questions:

  1. If the windscreen and A-pillars are reduced, and the roof tapers over the rear half, would the car still offer a comfortable seating experience?
  2. If the Cayenne’s doors are elongated by 20 centimeters and it is offered as a two-door model, does it make sense from a practical standpoint?
  3. Is it possible to accommodate a quick-folding soft-top roof that also meets Porsche’s standards for quality and design?
  4. And the most important question of them all: How the rear should look?

Michael Mauer, Chief Designer at Porsche, remarked that “an SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally.” Mauer, who wasn’t a part of Porsche back then, added that “very strange shapes” emerge when an SUV’s bulky body is amalgamated with a convertible’s smaller, open-roof looks (per Porshe). However, it was not the just aesthetic and practical failures that put the Cayenne convertible plans on cold ice. 

“Forecasts regarding profitability were not particularly promising and doubts remained as to whether the car would look as appealing as a Porsche should,” says the official blog marking the 20th anniversary of Porsche’s venture into the SUV segment. As for the one-off Cayenne-PMF convertible unit, it lives on at the Porsche Museum in Germany’s Stuttgart.

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Tesla Body Damage Repairs Cost Way More Than You Might Expect



In a YouTube video, Ryan Shaw, a creator who specializes in Tesla and Tech content, described just how much it might cost to repair a Tesla after an accident. According to him, the repair cost of his Tesla Model Y after a rear-end collision was almost $20,000! Some of the most expensive parts that were replaced included the lift gate at $1,200, the quarter panel at $1,150, and the rear bumper at $680. Ryan Shaw’s Tesla Model Y was also involved in another rear-end collision with a repair bill that cost around $10,000. Lucky for him, the repair costs of both accidents were covered by insurance.

It’s not the first time that Tesla vehicles have proven to have expensive repair bills — a windshield replacement for a Tesla Model X could cost you as much as $1,311 without labor. Another YouTuber, Rich Rebuilds, claims he fixed a Tesla Model 3 at his garage for $700 after Tesla estimated the repair cost at $16,000. Also, a Tesla owner based in Finland decided to blow up his Model S after Tesla estimated a cost of $22,600 to replace the battery (via Gizmodo).

Similar stories are all over the internet, and even though the can’t all be verified, it’s a concern that most Tesla owners complain that repair costs are too expensive without a warranty or insurance cover. At the moment, Tesla discourages its customers from taking their cars to third-party repair services.  

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Supercar Brands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of



In 1990, an unnamed businessman from the UAE contacted German racing car manufacturer Lotec and asked for the fastest car in the world. With the promise of a blank check, Lotec began developing the car in 1991, and by 1995, the C1000 was finished. It featured a 5.6L Mercedes twin-turbocharged V8 engine that made over 1,000 horsepower. According to Motor1, Lotec claimed the car had a 0-62 mph time of just 3.2 seconds, and a top speed of 268 mph. The C1000 was strictly a one-off, but at a development cost of $3.4 million, it’s not like many other buyers could have afforded one anyway.

Creating the C1000 gave Lotec owner Kurt Lotterschmid the supercar bug, and shortly after development finished, he set about building a follow-up. By 2001, the brand’s next car, the Sirius, was unveiled. It was planned that five units a year would be created, each car selling for $462,000. The Sirius featured a mid-mounted Mercedes V12 making 850 horsepower, with many of the car’s internals derived from Lotec’s racing parts bin. It was a similar recipe to the Pagani Zonda, which launched just a few years prior, and shared the same engine. However, unlike Pagani, Lotec couldn’t drum up much interest in its ultra-expensive supercar, and only one example of the Sirius ended up being built.

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