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  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 14:48 - 26 Comments

    AT&T to deploy Gigabit fibre to 100 US cities


    news US telco giant AT&T overnight revealed it would deploy Fibre to the Premises infrastructure in 100 major US cities in the United States, delivering gigabit broadband speeds in a model which directly contradicts statements by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the telco is focusing on the Coalition’s preferred Fibre to the Node model.

    Under Labor’s previous NBN policy, some 93 percent of Australian premises were to have received fibre directly to the premise and the remainder satellite or wireless. Fibre to the Premises, as a technical model, allows very high upload speeds. Current retail NBN plans, for instance, allow upload speeds of 40Mbps on 100Mbps plans, while the long-term migration to gigabit speeds will allow upload speeds of 400Mbps.

    However, NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December last year changed the paradigm, with the company recommending (and the Coalition formally supporting several weeks ago) a vision in which up to a third of Australian premises will be served by the existing HFC cable networks of Telstra and Optus, with Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement used in other areas not already covered by Labor’s FTTP approach. Satellite and wireless is to be used to cover some rural and regional areas as under Labor’s previous plan. This new model is known as the “Multi-Technology Mix” (MTM), or “the Coalition’s Broadband Network” (CBN).

    In an interview on the Triple J radio station last week, Turnbull explicitly named AT&T, one of the largest telcos in the US, as an example of a telco which was deploying FTTN technology.

    “If you look around the world, the type of technologies that are being used, are precisely what we are proposing,” the Minister said. “Fibre to the Node, that is what AT&T have done. That is what British Telecom has done. That is Deutsche Telekom is doing. That is what Swisscom is doing. That is what Belgiacom is doing. Everyone is using a mix of technologies. The idea that the proposition that Labor put out that everyone in the world is doing near universal FTTP is a complete and utter lie. It is the reverse of the truth.”

    It is true that AT&T has deployed FTTN widely throughout the US. However, overnight, in a statement published online, the telco revealed it planned to upgrade that FTTN platform imminently to FTTP, in a major investment which will see 100 US cities receive gigabit broadband speeds.


    “AT&T today announced a major initiative to expand its ultra-fast fiber network to up to 100 candidate cities and municipalities nationwide, including 21 new major metropolitan areas. The fiber network will deliver AT&T U-verse with GigaPowerSM service, which can deliver broadband speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second and AT&T’s most advanced TV services, to consumers and businesses,” the telco said.

    AT&T will work with local leaders in these markets to discuss ways to bring the service to their communities. Similar to previously announced metro area selections in Austin and Dallas and advanced discussions in Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, communities that have suitable network facilities, and show the strongest investment cases based on anticipated demand and the most receptive policies will influence these future selections and coverage maps within selected areas. The telco said the initiative continues AT&T’s ongoing commitment to economic development in these communities, bringing jobs, advanced technologies and infrastructure.

    The list of 21 candidate metropolitan areas includes: Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, San Francisco, and San Jose. With previously announced markets, AT&T now has committed to or is exploring 25 metro areas for fibre deployment.

    “We’re delivering advanced services that offer consumers and small businesses the ability to do more, faster, help communities create a new wave of innovation, and encourage economic development,” said Lori Lee, senior executive vice president, AT&T Home Solutions. “We’re interested in working with communities that appreciate the value of the most advanced technologies and are willing to encourage investment by offering solid investment cases and policies.”

    The planned expanded availability of U-verse with GigaPower is part of AT&T’s Project Velocity IP (VIP) investment plan to expand and enhance its wireless and wireline IP broadband networks to support growing customer demand for high-speed Internet access, advanced TV services, and new mobile and cloud computing services.

    AT&T U-verse with GigaPower services are already available in Austin and some surrounding communities, and are expected to roll out in parts of Dallas this summer in the US. AT&T first made the services available to tens of thousands of households in Austin and surrounding communities in December 2013 and recently announced it would expand the fiber network to double the households in the Austin area this year as a result of “high demand that has exceeded expectations”.

    The news comes as search giant Google has revealed it is planning to upgrade its residential-grade Google Fiber broadband network in the United States to 10Gbps. Google Fiber is a broadband network which Google is rolling out in several cities in the US, such as Kansas City, Missouri, as well as Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah. The service is based on the same Fibre to the Premises model which Labor preferred for its National Broadband Network project, but offers significantly better prices, including unlimited plans for $70 per month for 1Gbps plans with no download quotas. The network, however, does not allow competitive wholesale access by other ISPs.

    Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stated that it is “difficult, if not impossible” to find uses for a broadband service with speeds up to 1Gbps — ten times less.

    Other countries which have also deployed FTTN services are also expanding plans to upgrade those networks with FTTP capabilities. For example, in June 2012 British telco BT revealed plans to modify its up to 76Mbps national fibre to the node rollout so that customers will be able to choose to have fibre fully extended to their premises, delivering a large speed upgrade to 330Mbps in the process and shifting its rollout model closer to Labor’s original, FTTP-based NBN policy.

    Turnbull additionally stated in the Triple J interview that NBN Co’s Strategic Review published last year “concluded that if we had continued with Labor’s all-fibre rollout, it would have taken us four more years to complete it, and $73 billion”. The Communications Minister added: “In order to get the project done within an affordable cost envelope, we needed to be able to give the company the flexibility to use different technology, and that is the MTM model — $41 billion — $32 billion cheaper.”

    However, NBN Co’s Strategic Review document, which Turnbull has read and is familiar with, directly contradicts some of Turnbull’s statements.

    NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December last year makes clear that in almost every rollout scenario (FTTN, FTTP, HFC cable or a mix), NBN Co would actually make a modest return on the Government’s investment in the project, ranging from 1.7 percent to 5.3 percent. This means that the Coalition’s MTM policy would make slightly more money than Labor’s FTTP option — but neither will, in the long-run, cost the Government anything. The money will be recouped through monthly broadband subscriber fees.

    Timing is also an issue. Turnbull told Triple J listeners that Labor’s NBN policy would take four more years to deliver than the Coalition’s MTM policy, but the Strategic Review document shows that if the network was re-worked, it would take only three years.

    Overall, NBN Co’s Strategic Review makes it clear that the company could deliver an all-fibre FTTP network to Australians for a comparable financial return and only three years later than the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix project. This infrastructure would be vastly superior to the Coalition’s version on a technical basis and would not need to be upgraded as AT&T and BT are upgrading their FTTN networks.

    Wow. Sounds like 1Gbps speeds are shortly going to become pretty standard across much of the United States. I wonder how long it will be before Australia will be able to say the same. Right now, NBN Co isn’t even committing to speeds above 25Mbps for the Coalition’s alternative FTTN vision. I’d say that’s a pretty substantial difference in vision.

    The irony here is also incredible. Just days after Turnbull lists AT&T as a poster child for Fibre to the Node, the telco turns around and becomes a global poster child for gigabit Fibre to the Premises. Sounds like some old-fashioned Turnbullian logic there. It appears the Minister did not consult closely enough with AT&T during his recent visit to the US.

    Image credit (map): AT&T

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    1. anthony
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink |

      Why would AT&T tell Turnbull anything RE future business plans.
      & why does what other peoples past installations influence our future installations.

      ergh, i promised myself not to question MrT anymore

    2. Ray Herring
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink |

      I’m not sure the MTM would be cheaper anyway, if i recall, the Strategic Review does not take into account the ongoing cost of maintaining the copper portion of the FTTN.

      It is nice however seeing Turnbull being shot down by making one statement and then the company he used as the ‘poster child’ turning around and going the Labor way with FTTH.

      Turnbull will of course just turn around and provide a new poster child for FTTN, he’s running out of options though, and eventually he’ll be left with no poster childs at all, but by then it will be all too late.

    3. Posted 22/04/2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink |

      I am sure Turnbull will just turn around when questioned on this to spin it into a “SEE! You CAN go from FTTN to FTTP! So, that is why we should be doing FTTN first because AT&T did!”. Obviously he would say it whilst also condemning Labor for delays and the like.

    4. Andrew
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink |

      Is there anyone left on the planet, apart from Malcolm Turnbull, advocating HFC and nodes as the next big internet thingy?
      That fibre Koolaid, Labor zealotry has spread like an epidemic.
      We will end up completing the fibre roll-out just as soon as we have finished the MTM roll-out; the single most expensive white elephant in Australia’s history.
      And guess what? The NBN will have cost more than the $90 billion MT spruked and will have taken 20 years to complete.

    5. Mic
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink |

      Seems there is more to the story

      • RBH
        Posted 22/04/2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink |

        I’ve always thought the US telecoms was cherry picking taken to its extreme – meaning some people get fantastic service and on the other side of the world that is what we hear about but the reality is that the average person is pretty well stiffed. From those links, it sounds like AT&T is continuing with that approach. That there will be no change in their capital allocation is the big give away.

        Unfortunately this is exactly what Malcolm is all about – allowing Telstra and others to cherry pick the market (again). We’ve already seen Malcolm promise one thing (and it was even fully costed!) and the reality is a wet handshake (how did we end up with a HFC network as the solution to crap broadband?!!??) – all delivered in the same time or longer for a marginally lower cost (*assuming nothing goes wrong and you pretend the future doesn’t exist beyond 2025 or 2021 depending on which options you compare).

      • thefinn
        Posted 23/04/2014 at 2:51 am | Permalink |

        Oh god, I love that, “Fibre to the press release.”

        Pretty much sums up the past couple of years of NBN talk.

      • Dan
        Posted 23/04/2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink |

        Yeah I read these too (from Slashdot)

        It looks like all they are doing is removing the (25Mbps) artificial caps on speeds in buildings that already have AT&T fibre (FTTB or FTTP) installed.

        Fibre to the Press release indeed!

    6. nonny-moose
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink |

      “up to 100 cities”

      ahh the old ‘up to’ strikes again….. id keep the salt shaker handy – Ars Tech points out “Before anyone gets too excited, AT&T isn’t promising that it will actually build in any or all of these cities. “This expanded fiber build is not expected to impact AT&T’s capital investment plans for 2014″

      and “Karl Bode of DSLReports calls AT&T’s moves more “fiber to the press release” than fiber to the home.”

      all that above said…. it is absolutely true that the more one looks the more it is clear there are more than a few other govts/telco outfits who are proceeding in precisely the opposite direction to our govt of the day – in rollout format (FTTP in preference to FTTN) and speeds (1Gbit over 25 mbit). I am embarrassed to see it but expecting anything else than jingoistic ‘this is the way!’ cheerleading from this mob is expecting far too much. i fully expect some comment pooh-poohing the decision to go 1gbit before too long.

      it only reinforces my view that there are little if any genuine underpinnings to the operation of DoC and NBNco as it stands today – its merely political gameplaying, for the sake of it. (the satellite dealy is another aspect of this – iirc MT was bashing the whole idea of any sats floated some time back; today it is longfacing about how a third sat floated might be necessitated. (hint, if the fixed lines were dealt with PROPERLY then the demand for those services might possibly be lower than would be the case under an MTM future?)).

      heres hoping AT&T fulfil the offer made, at any rate, and the more areas rolled out the better.

    7. Mr Creosote
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink |

      Turnbull used to hold up NZ as the model for FTTN – until they canned it and went FTTP. Turnbull never mentioned what is happening in NZ again. Now AT & T has done the same thing. Awkward! AT & T will be off the FTTN club Christmas card list now to. That club is getting smaller and smaller.

      The examples Turnbull keeps giving of FTTN rollouts, started many years ago. Turnbull’s FTTN rollout wont start for at least another year. Why would you start something at that point that will put us behind the rest of the world straight away? Turnbull often uses the throw away line, based on an old Irish joke – if he were going to build an NBN you wouldn’t start from here. He needs to follow his own advice. If you were going to build FTTN, you wouldn’t start next year. (You would have started years ago).

      Turnbull is rapidly moving us from leader to laggard – and we will pay the price for decades to come. Future vision isn’t this government’s strong point – on so many fronts.

    8. god
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 9:19 pm | Permalink |

      Is this blanket coverage or just cbd and select suburbs in each city like google fibre?
      Anyone know?

    9. welllol
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink |

      Well “god” if you look at the map you would see that only the largest 3 cities per state would get it. I would say this would be a 20% fiber roll-out/state.

      • god
        Posted 23/04/2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink |

        cool just checked, lucky if you live in the named city, cbd and suburbs listed.

    10. Barry
      Posted 22/04/2014 at 10:36 pm | Permalink |

      AT&T has been rolling out FTTP for many years, under their FiOS program, in cities where their ADSL couldn’t compete with coax-based services provided by cable company competitors, when those companies added Internet and, later, phone services. AT&T did it pretty quickly by simply wrapping the fibre around the phone cables which often simply hang off the telephone poles. This also let them add a competitive cabletv service, giving 2 competitive choices in many larger cities.

    11. Czuio
      Posted 23/04/2014 at 12:19 am | Permalink |

      It’s Verizon FiOS http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verizon_FiOS

    12. Jason
      Posted 23/04/2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink |

      Malcolm has published a rebuttal on this

      Actually makes sense… Isn’t this what we are doing here anyways… All greenfields get FTTH, where as Brownfields get whatever technology is best whether it be FTTH, FTTN, FTTB, HFC or LTE? Then as the assets are paid off and demand is there and it is profitable then replace it with FTTH? Seems logical, especially since NBNCo stated that the current take up of NBN isn’t as high as they liked.

      • GongGav
        Posted 23/04/2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink |

        If I could believe him, there might be some sense, but I cant. He’s selling and justifying a product, nothing more. Somehow putting 1 Gbps fibre into brownfields sites of 100 cities is akin to not being able to guarantee 25 Mbps for urban Australia.

        He is likening their rollout to Australia, when its not. The best example is FttH to brownfield sites. Turnbull is spruiking that as a possibility, when by his own numbers its an almost impossibility outside of areas already being rolled out through Labor’s plan.

        He ignores that connection completely, only comparing FttB for MDU’s, which was going to be the outcome either way.

        Sorry, there is no sense to this. If FttN had been started 10 years ago, there would have been, but starting now and basing the bulk of services on it is only going to kill Australia as a serious technical option in only a few short years.

        And for what? A few political points. 25 MBps versus 1 Gbps… Thats 40 times better connection, in an ever more connected world. How is 25 Mbps even in the picture is beyond me.

        Turnbull is playing with Australias future, and from what I can see dooming us to be the supermarket of Asia and nothing else. And thats not an exageration. We’ll be passed in every area that will matter post 2020, and be playing catchup for decades.

      • Mark
        Posted 23/04/2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink |

        That article of MT’s regarding AT&T’s 1Gbps FTTH rollout is the best load of self serving BS I’ve read for a while. However I love the comments posted in his article thus far:

        “If you

        a) Own the copper

        b) Only care about profits and the end user is not your concern

        b) Don’t really care about ubiquitous or future proof results

        Then sure Malcom, go for it. Btw, when are you going to admit that you have no interest in a GBE and that your ultimate role is the destruction of NBNco and to “let the private sector rip” in true Liberal ideological fashion?

        Oh btw, Mr. Turnbull. I remember when you were spruiking New Zealand. That’s before they abandoned FTTN and decided to build FTTH. Not a word eh? You’re grasping at straws and grasping at examples to pull. It wouldn’t be too hard to mention Google’s 1Gbps fibre builds, or a host of other countries now opting for fibre.

        Fibre is the end game Mr. Turnbull and its time you publicly acknowledged that and stopped pretending that when we spend tens of billions of dollars on a temporary network, that that’s all we have to do and somehow we’ve avoided the cost of a fully fibre network.

        No. All you’re doing is costing us more overall and deferring the inevitable.”


        “If AT&T is innovating beyond your capability you’ve got a bit of a problem on your hands.

        The most anti-competitive company in the history of the world, broken up under the most free-market government to in the history of the world, Reagan’s US, who were responsible for the invention of the acoustic coupler merely because of how anti-innovation they were…

        And you’re arguing that “we’re spending $40-odd billion in taxpayer money and they are only a little ahead of us, not that much”, of course overlooking that even their biggest competitor, Verizon, is well ahead. At $500 to $700 per home installed these days.

        While meanwhile cancelling the rollout that’s well ahead because apparently it costs $2000 each when you’ve yourself invested in an FTTP rollout that apparently costs, and I quote from this website, $237 each.

        Why not $1200 or $1500 or even $1050 (as NBN Co had been working on) instead of $2000? Well, that’s been censored with big black bars in the strategic review, sillypants. Why not $500 or $700? Because that’d disprove what the strategic review was trying to show, which is that Malcolm Turnbull is right, always right. Never wrong about even the tiniest of things. And anyone who says different is politically motivated.”

      • Posted 23/04/2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink |

        And here’s my rebuttal to Turnbull’s rebuttal:


        • Mark
          Posted 23/04/2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink |

          Hi Renai,

          Thanks for that article!


    13. quink
      Posted 23/04/2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink |

      > If AT&T is innovating beyond your capability you’ve got a bit of a problem on your hands.

      > The most anti-competitive company in the history of the world, broken up under the most free-market government in the history of the world, Reagan’s US, who were responsible for the invention of the acoustic coupler merely because of how anti-innovation they were…

      > And you’re arguing that “we’re spending $40-odd billion in taxpayer money and they are only a little ahead of us, not that much”, of course overlooking that even their biggest competitor, Verizon, is well ahead. At $500 to $700 per home installed these days.

      > While meanwhile cancelling the rollout that’s well ahead because apparently it costs $2000 each when you’ve yourself invested in an FTTP rollout that apparently costs, and I quote from this website, $237 each.

      > Why not $1200 or $1500 or even $1050 (as NBN Co had been working on) instead of $2000? Well, that’s been censored with big black bars in the strategic review, sillypants. Why not $500 or $700? Because that’d disprove what the strategic review was trying to show, which is that Malcolm Turnbull is right, always right. Never wrong about even the tiniest of things. And anyone who says different is politically motivated.

      I’d hate to think what would happen if Mr. Turnbull actually realised or even admitted he’s wrong about something. Here he’s got a house of cards all glued together and if even one of them falls there’d probably be an utterly catastrophic implosion of ego or something that could endanger all bystanders. Maybe the primary reason we’re doing Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess is because that implosion could cause more damage to this country than the mess. Which, considering the ego in play here, is completely possible.

    14. Cabidas
      Posted 23/04/2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink |

      “Sounds like some old-fashioned Turnbullian logic there”

      Nicely done!

    15. ozechad
      Posted 23/04/2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink |

      The are approx. 2.1 million small medium businesses in Australia – the economic backbone of our economy – sadly the vast majority of these SMB’s only have ADSL2 broadband – with it’s pathetic governed upload speed of around 0.8 Mbps – ranks Australia at 160th out of 170 countries as the worlds worst! We are NOW officially a 3rd world country – The internet (Web 2.0) isn’t just about downloading – it’s about collaboration, co-producing Cloud and SaaS – and to those who don’t quite get that – IT’S NOW MORE ABOUT UPLOAD .The economic future of our country is now at a tipping point – Australian business is non competitive in a global digitally connected economy. We need great infrastructure and we need it FAST!

    16. Barry
      Posted 24/04/2014 at 12:37 am | Permalink |

      Oops, yes, you are right. But the point remains that there is already increasing amounts of FTTP being deployed by traditional phone cos, where their legacy copper couldn’t compete with cable cos deploying DOCSIS-based services. Of course, difference between US and Oz is the former had widespread deployment of cable already that they found a way to make bidirectional when the Internet came along, offering some level of competition in the infrastructure. Mergers and acquisitions that have been allowed to occur have neutered that sense of competition.

    17. Ace
      Posted 25/04/2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink |

      Nice to see where the money is spent? Military aircraft.
      For the cost of these planes, the NBN could be built complete to the home. the whole country would benefit.
      Creation of 1000’s of jobs/ new industries ect.

      The aircraft purchase is in addition to another set already purchased. How many do we really need Mr PM?
      And Mr Turnbull (bull dust) where where you on this announcement?

    18. Posted 25/04/2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink |

      This would mean that the technology to be used here in Australia may be obsolete in no time, unless the tide will turn and we can finally have great and reformed infrastructure.

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