By Steve Jenkin
May 16, 2013
The Coalition has been very silent on one of its biggest and most invasive change to the NBN:
Every DSL-NBN subscriber is going to be saddled with three unavoidable out-of-pocket expenses. All in-house cabling changes have to be done by a registered cabler, it’s NOT DIY. You may go on e-Bay and buy a $50 VDSL modem, but it won’t work.
- Install a VDSL Central Splitter and new VDSL modem to get advertised speed. [$250-$500]
- When, not if, the copper phone service is turned off or you need a second line, install an NTD (Network Termination Device) as supplied “for free” for FTTP uses. The NTD contains two voice service connectors (via an internal “ATA”) and four data service connectors. [$500-$1,500]
- Either because you want a better service or when the DSL network is turned off in, say, 2022, you’ll pay to have Fibre run to your home. Charges by BT in the UK, whom it seems Turnbull is modelling his network upon, start at $1,250 and max-out at $10,000. That’s not a cap, they just won’t go further.
Step 1. Get VDSL working
The Coalition are saving a small amount, 5%-10%, in NBN construction costs of the NBN by forcing unavoidable costs onto householders. And not once, but three times, will ordinary householders have forced and avoidable out-of-pocket expenses. What’s not to like?
When a node is installed on your line, it will be “without disruption”. Your phone will still work, and given that your ISP can and will transfer your ADSL service from their exchange DSLAM to the node, your ADSL service will keep working.
Those nodes don’t just have ~150 DSL ports, they must also have ~200 phone ports, each with a filter that works for the two different ADSL and VDSL frequencies and a second internal distribution frame or patch panel. This makes them much larger, more expensive, and more complex than they need to be. More like the double-wide refrigerators that are Telstra RIM’s (with “Top Hat” conversions) than the very modest small-beige boxes of TransACT/iiNet in Canberra.
Not only are they forcing additional costs onto subscribers, they are increasing the cost & complexity (read “less reliable”) of the nodes. They could just follow the lead of the GPON FTTP rollout and provide an NTD and massively simplify the nodes and supporting network, but in the world of upside-down economics, a lower total cost doesn’t interest the Coalition.
If you want the advertised speed, you have to purchase a VDSL2 modem. Mr Turnbull has claimed they are “$50″, but not any brand-name models and nothing in the retail shops where you can get a least a modicum of pre-sales support and post-sales service and warranty. Perhaps if you bought 1,000 directly from overseas, they’d cost you $50. Looking at British sites, I see them in the $150-$250 range.
But it won’t work when you plug it in!
ADSL and VDSL operate with different frequencies and require different “splitters”. To get reliable service – nothing special, but just what’s been advertised and you’ve paid for – your best option is to install a “Central Splitter”. If you attempt to run “in-line” splitters, they are very likely to go awry and you’ll lose your service.
The Telco phone line into your house is cut and the “splitter” is connected before the first phone point. The splitter has two output connections: one for the DSL modem, the other for the phones in your house.
The cable up to and including the first phone point is the responsibility of the Telco. Only registered cablers are allowed to touch it, with some pretty draconian legislation applying to “line tampering”.