How does fibre over powerlines stack up against other potential NBN technologies?



This article is by Matthew Sorell, Senior Lecturer, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University of Adelaide. It originally appeared on The Conversation.

analysis Recent reports in The Australian call for the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout to be sped up by using optical fibre strung overhead with power lines, rather than replacing Telstra’s copper network underground.

This idea is not new and it would result in the rollout reaching more homes sooner. This method would also be cheaper in the short term, but would be unlikely to stand the test of time. There are other options, though, for a sooner-cheaper-faster NBN. How do they stack up? There are two technical considerations for the NBN:

  1. the capabilities of the type of connection technology – whether fibre, cables or wireless
  2. how that technology is deployed – most obviously above ground or below ground, but also whether there are many or few street-side cabinets, and whether you can simply make use of an existing connection to the home.

Commercial considerations include speed of deployment, peak funding, and long term costs.

What are the options?

Digital subscriber line (ADSL, VDSL and variations)
Digital subscriber line (DSL) variations are by far the most widely used technologies for domestic broadband today. The reason is compelling: the delivery channel, the plain old telephone copper wire, is already in the ground and in your home.

But the copper cable doesn’t last long – the insulation degrades, joints disintegrate, and water in the conduit shorts out the connection. The performance of DSL, which is stretching the life of the copper well beyond its engineering specifications as a voice telephone connection, degrades over distance.

For copper to be a serious contender, you need a high-quality cable, regularly maintained, and replaced every ten years or so.

The highest speed versions of DSL, known as very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line 2 (VDSL2) or, more formally, as ITU-T G.993.2, can reach 100Mbit/s within 300m of an exchange, or a street-side cabinet (so-called Fibre-to-the-node). There are further noise cancelling technologies being considered, known as vectoring, which might improve the reliability and reach of VDSL2.

This technology isn’t ready yet, and it’s only being pursued seriously by one equipment maker – Alcatel-Lucent. VDSL2, with or without vectoring, could take us to perhaps 2025. That’s a generous assessment, assuming that there is sufficient demand to justify ongoing development, and that Alcatel-Lucent’s engineers can deliver. Beyond that, copper is out of the race, even for that final 300m from the so-called node on every other street corner to your home.

DOCSIS over Hybrid Fibre Coax (Cable TV)
If you happen to live in an area where you can get cable TV, you have the option of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS). This technology takes the existing cable TV network, an optical fibre to a local node, and delivers an internet connection over the shared copper cable, with a current maximum capacity of 400Mbit/s.

However, that capacity is shared by all your neighbours, which is fine until you all decide to stream video on demand. On the positive side, the infrastructure is already in place, even if it is a thick, high visual impact cable strung low on power poles.

Broadband over power lines (BPL)
Since (almost) every home is connected to the electricity power grid, it makes sense to think about whether an internet connection could be delivered over the same wires as your power. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is not very well.

Aurora Energy in Tasmania abandoned trials of this technology in 2007. One of the many big problems is that power lines act like a big antenna, and high-frequency broadband signals just radiate away as a radio signal. On the positive side, delivering an internet connection around your home using the domestic electrical wiring is a very effective way to save rewiring costs.

802.11 (Wi-Fi)
Wi-Fi is a tethering technology – it’s great around the home or the office, and it’s even pretty good in cafes and on the streets of hip cities such as Adelaide. It does not pretend to be a technology which can deliver high capacity internet to many users at a time.

4G Cellular
Cellular networks have come a long way, from the old voice systems of 30 years ago to technologies which today could deliver over 100Mbit/s to be shared by users serviced by one cell. Cellular technology is a critical part of the pervasive internet-connected future – it’s how you connect to the internet on the bus, in your car, on the street.

But it will never have the capacity to meet total demand. History shows cellular systems can only deliver a few percent of the capacity in any given urban area, and at a high cost, with the rest relying on wired technology.

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX)
While cellular systems can’t cope in dense urban areas, wireless technology is the most cost-efficient option in low-density areas. A few tens of homes within a 50km radius can share a high-speed connection of 1Gbit/s and get quite reasonable performance.

In higher density areas, the footprint of a WiMAX cell can be decreased to target the connection to a sufficiently small number of homes, but you reach a point where a wired connection is more cost efficient, higher speed and reliable.

Geostationary satellite
In really remote areas, where population density is measured in tens of square kilometres per inhabitant, no Earth-bound technology is going to deliver a high speed connection. Even using a point-to-point microwave link, you would be lucky to get 2Mbit/s, and that’s with dedicated towers, with repeater transceivers, to deliver to a single premises.

The only viable solution is satellite, but this brings with it issues of signal delay (latency) which can affect users’ experiences in two-way communications such as video-conferencing and gaming.

Fibre to the premises (FTTP)
Much has been written elsewhere about the capabilities of optical fibre, so it is sufficient to mention here that a fibre connection to your home can easily, today, deliver up to 100Mbit/s. The only thing stopping you getting a 1Gbit/s connection is the priority of connecting your neighbours along with you, but if you are willing to pay, that high speed connection can be made. Optical fibre is the only known viable technology beyond 2025. The only justification for considering anything else in the meantime is to buy us time.

Putting the fibre on power lines?
The big killer for optical fibre to the premises is not the cost of the fibre itself, but the cost, time and effort involved in getting the fibre to your home. Imaginative solutions which have failed in the past are threading the fibre down sewer lines and gas pipes. The only really viable solutions on a large scale are to string the fibre on power lines, or use the existing conduits for the copper network.

There is a lot to like about relying on power lines. The fibre is electrically inert, so it can be simply clipped to a power wire. Unlike the thick, low-hanging coaxial TV cables of the past, which had to be strung much lower on the pole for electrical safety, the fibre barely adds to the visual impact of the existing power distribution network. Where it is technically feasible, it’s a great idea, and it is already widely used.

But there are two problems.

First, local councils have still not recovered from the bitter experience of the unsightly deployment of thick, ugly, low-hanging television cables. Convincing any local development authority that this is not the same thing is going to be a long and painful exercise.

Second, some areas have underground power cables, and in those cases you are better off feeding the cable through the telephone line conduit. Putting the fibre into the telephone wire conduit is, undoubtedly, a better long-term solution from the perspective of reliability and achieving the end game of forcing the retirement of copper.

The plain old telephone copper cables started their deployment strung from pole to pole, and it was many decades before the vast majority found their way underground. Now that we have a network of underground conduit, it makes perfect sense to deploy optical fibre underground, pulling out copper as we go. The fibre is protected from the weather and resilient when water gets into the conduit.

All of which would be fine if we were trying to minimise the total cost over 50 years. If, instead, we want to get as many customers connected as soon as possible to start generating revenues, we might do better by spending more in the long run, but cutting back peak funding.

The Tasmanian solution
Tasmania’s assertive push to keep up deployment of optical fibre, and make it cost effective by using overhead rollout, makes a lot of sense. In urban areas, no other technology has a feasible lifetime beyond 2025, and many of the existing broadband technologies are already obsolete with no hope of evolution. It will work for the vast majority of urban areas.

If NBN Co is empowered with the task of convincing planning authorities that this is not the cable TV fiasco all over again, 93% of us just might get optical fibre after all.

Matthew Sorell does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations. This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation


  1. That would work, assuming the place the fibre is going to, actually has overhead powerlines. A lot of places here in Western Australia are dropping the powerlines underground, i know in my small town we have underground power down the entire mainstreet.

    Ooops, just noticed you mentioned that :)

    • I would then hope that anywhere with existing overhead phone lines could get fttp sooner rather than later! I saw some NBN deployment this morning just around the corner from my house (for a greenfield) but I’m still not raising hopes (never even on the most optimistic plans on NBN website)

    • As mentioned in the article, putting fibre on telegraph poles is a second rate solution that will only drive up long term costs as it will require more frequent replacement due to being exposed to the elements (and birds) and also accidental damage.

      If they are going to do it, do it properly, i.e. FTTP and stick it underground.

  2. Click on the D logo on top LHS to navigate to D homepage. You can read the entire article from the homepage, and not just an excerpt! kewl bananas!

  3. Hey everyone,

    FYI I just received the following comment via email from an identified source I regard as very reliable. I obtained permission to publish it here without using their name:


    Mate, I just wanted to draw your attention to that piece from The Conversation which you re-published. I know it’s not your piece but I should let you know that is is riddled with errors!

    Even in the Vectoring section alone …

    1. Vectoring IS READY. Belgacom, Deutsche Telekom have thousands of lines in operation already – they are only waiting to do a full marketing launch in 1Q13.

    2. The news that Vectoring is only being pursued by one equipment vendor – ALU – would come as a VERY big surprise to Huawei, ZTE, Adtran, Assia, Ikanos and plenty of others!

    3. The comment about “assuming there is sufficient demand [for Vectoring]” is silly, there is MASSSIVE demand for incumbents for this – even the likes of Dutch incumbent KPN has u-turned on FTTH in favor of Vectored VDSL.

    4. The final line is simply nonsense – this last 300 meters of the network is EXACTLY where G.Fast comes into play via an FTTdP network design – this is exactly where the industry is headed!

    To be frank I get really pi###d off with academics like this guy spouting off their prejudices without getting off their backsides to actually go and find out what is happening in the real world beyond academia!

    We know that a nationwide fully ducted FTTH network would be great – who doesn’t? – but the point is that such a network is extremely tough to build and will take a couple of decades in a country like Australia.

    • Ask him to show proof or retract the parts that are incorrect – that’s what academics do mate….

      On another note, he stated the following …

      “Optical fibre is the only known viable technology beyond 2025.”

      Does anyone disagree with this? Bearing in mind that he also states that any xDSL technologies will need well maintained and regularly replaced copper (c 10 years) then we are looking at the LNP rolling out FTTN that will have a life of around 12 years.


      Do it right……

      • Yep, do it right.

        Not only will the copper pairs need maintenance, but unlike a passive fibre network, FTTN/VDSL also requires electricity supply, car batteries, fibre-to-copper switches, cooling fans and refrigerator cabinets dotted along every street.

        The idea of our spending “$29 billion” (more like $50 billion) forcing councils to agree to all this street infrastructure which has a barely ten-year useful life is quite ludicrous. And that is before considering the cap it places on wholesale revenue for NBN cost recovery, compared to the headroom of fibre.

      • Well, 12 years if everyone is connected tomorrow. If you assume that a VDSL rollout is completed by 2016, some connections will only be viable for 9 years. If you assume that vectoring is completed by 2019, vectoring only buys us 6 years.

        How much are we spending for something that will be viable for 6 years after it’s complete?

        The other thing is, the anonymous rebuttal about G.Fast only applies if we accept Matthew Sorrell’s 300m example for 100Mbps as the norm. The Coalition has in fact made it clear they only wish for a minimum of 25Mbps by 2016, 50Mbps for 90% of those in 2019; therefore, the largest and average distances would be considerably greater than 300m. I don’t think Matthew Sorrell was giving that example as the norm (people have variously floated 500m, 800m, and 1000m before). After all, he says “Beyond [2025], copper is out of the race, even for that final 300m from the so-called node on every other street corner to your home.”

        On a related note, here’s an example of tall poppy syndrome. Why do Australians have such a hatred for those with intellectual pursuits?

          • So here you demonstrate two of your biases:
            1. You hate all welfare recipients.
            2. You hate all modern academics.

            You are not a rational, reasonable person.

            And yet despite demonstrating your biases, you didn’t even say anything worthy of posting. The question I have to ask… is why bother posting at all?

      • The 2025 comment made me wonder how he arrived at the figure.
        Being an academic its a safe assumption that its ludicrously wrong; they question becomes why its wrong.

        I suspect that the 2025 figure is arrived at by extrapolating current growth in bandwidth demand into the future; this is always wrong. Trends are not predictive and there are always limits to exponential growth which kick in far before the climax. Academics never seem to learn this but I suppose thats why they are safely institutionalised where they cant do much harm and get a welfare income from the state while the rest of us intelligent people support them.

        • Your argument is that despite the fact that the historical trend indicates the 2025 limit, and experts (not just your hated academics) agree that the historical trend will most likely continue; the trend will NOT continue, yet you have provided nothing to substantiate your argument but your own wilful assertion.

          Go to the comments for the original article.

          Matthew Sorell
          Senior Lecturer, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University of Adelaide
          .In reply to Damien Westacott

          I agree that the wording around this point is not clear. Space limitations prevented mention of Nielsen’s Law, but I’ve talked about that in another article. Much of the old copper cable already in the ground would already need to be upgraded to meet the high performance potential of VDSL2. This is common industry knowledge.

          So two different points:
          1. There is consensus from multiple expert perspectives that mainstream average data rates will be in the order of 50Mbit/s in 2020, 250Mbit/s in 2025 and 1Gbit/s in 2030 – leading edge users will be demanding 2 to 5 times this rate. The only technology on the horizon that delivers is optical fibre to the premises.

          2. VDSL2 fails on two counts:
          a. Expense: the copper cable needs to be in very good condition to meet any demand (such as the mainstream average) – corroded joints, damaged insulation and water inundation are not a good combination – and this means much of the copper currently in use will need to be replaced as part of a VDSL2 rollout for a FTTN solution – and would only last 10 years (typical) to perform at the high quality level required of VDSL2.
          b. Obsolescence: by 2025, VDSL2 will suit less than half the potential market, halving its technological relevance to the market every 2 years. This makes the necessary investment in copper unviable.


          Matthew Sorell
          Senior Lecturer, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University of Adelaide
          .In reply to David Jones

          David, we appear to have responded at the same time. You are right- the article does not address future demand, but I will acknowledge that Nielsen’s observation is assumed. There was some justification in the original draft which was removed for space reasons.

          An article on predicting future demand is currently being drafted – my personal experience since 1990 is that expert predictions look wildly optimistic at the time but end up trailing behind reality.

    • Vectoring doesn’t seem to be increasing speeds on the order of 100%, which has sometimes been cited, more likely around 50%.

      Is this guy seriously sticking with the narrative that KPN saw VDSL2 was doing let’s say 50 Mbps and decided to go with FTTH based on that but then saw that VDSL2 with vectoring could do about 76 Mbps and then said ‘turn this boat around, everything has changed!!!’? Somehow I don’t think the difference between 50 to 76 Mbps is that much of a game changer, especially if the cost of deployment is higher with vectoring anyway.

      Or is it more due to the fact that KPN and the other incumbents like Deutsche Telekom now have a better excuse to kick off other telco’s DSLAMs from their network? It’s the same with any incumbent, they want to maximise the return on their investments, copper or fibre and that’s what they’re looking for. To say that KPN would have u-turned on FTTH for technical reasons, because vectoring is supposedly so much better, is a bit short-sighted and not looking at the big picture. Maybe they just want more money out of their copper and having them be the only provider on that is one way to do it.

      FTTH is a pretty orthogonal concern next to that. Not entirely orthogonal, far from it, but the two don’t follow like that in the narrative.

      That said, I definitely agree with this guy that this article is lacking.

    • I am pretty sure I know who this guy is. Isn’t claiming 300m for G.Fast just as inaccurate as his claim? VDSL2 is faster than G.Fast at those distances, below 50Mb, even with vectoring.

      If I am right, you visited someone on a 30m line, and the trial only had lines up to 90m. Also didn’t you say they were looking at about 100m for G.Fast FTTDP rollout?

      It’s all well and good to pick him up on accuracy, but I don’t think it is necessary to exaggerate the other way when doing so.

      One can only hope that those who look at this stuff in the real world tell what they really see without hyping it.

    • “1. Vectoring IS READY. Belgacom, Deutsche Telekom have thousands of lines in operation already – they are only waiting to do a full marketing launch in 1Q13.”

      Then where is it?
      1st Quarter 2013… was MONTHs ago.


        August 30, 2013
        “Deutsche Telekom has gotten clearance from the country’s regulator BNA and the European Commission (EC) to implement vectoring to increase the rate and reach of its existing VDSL network.”

        Reads as, tied up in so much red tape for the past months. Probably better than our ACCC in terms of speed.

        “With these rules in place, a competitor will be able interconnect at the street cabinet using fiber and implement vectoring, on condition that they offer an appropriate bitstream product under open access arrangements.”

        The current points of interconnect in Australia was pushed around for long enough, and to bump that up from 121 to ~70,000???
        No, something drastic would have to change in the design for it work with the current Australian design getting built out right now.

  4. Renai, thanks for a very interesting and easy to read contribution from an outside author, really enjoyed it.

    Although it was stated the unidentified source above was reliable he completely blows all the good, reasoned argument that he/she made in the earlier part of their msg by finishing with:

    “the point is that such a network is extremely tough to build and WILL TAKE A COUPLE OF DECADES in a country like Australia.”

    Laughable, even if it blew out by a few years to say 2023….Sorry but 2021 is not a couple of decades.

    Fat Pat, as usual you are spot on…..beyond 2025 fibre is THE ONLY viable tech.

    Now, FTTN…..*sigh* ….freaking N.U.T.S. but that is what you get…well done Oz.

    Tony Windsor come back and save us ffs.

    Mr. Quigley, you deserved far better than how this all turned out.

  5. Re Vectoring:

    One thing I’ve not seen discussed is the the potential for radio interference from Vectoring. If I understand it correctly, the idea of Vectoring is to inject an “equal and opposite” signal which cancels any cross-talk and interference at the far end.

    The trouble is this extra injected signal is going to make radio leakage so much worse, especially for poorly balanced lines (where the injection will need to be at its strongest). This leakage is what killed BPL and extended frequency ASDL.

    I would love to know if the Standards bodies have approved Vectoring. My experience with EMC suggests that it would fail any RF Emission testing.

    • > One thing I’ve not seen discussed is the the potential for radio interference from Vectoring. If I understand it correctly, the idea of Vectoring is to inject an “equal and opposite” signal which cancels any cross-talk and interference at the far end.


      • It says here…

        “Vectoring produces a clean signal for each line by measuring the crosstalk from all other lines and generating anti-phase signals to cancel the crosstalk signals out, resulting in almost zero noise.

        The DSLAM measures the crosstalk coupling … and pre-codes its transmission with anti-noise corrections Upstream”

        • It isn’t sending an anti signal in addition it is much more complicated.

          Think about it this way; if you had 2 signals you needed to get through to 2 seperate people and you knew what you were saying to each one, – and each message distorts the message the other receives – then you could change your messages so that even after distortion, what you get left with, is the *actual* message.

          They aren’t sending *more* signals; just changing the initial signal, so that after it is interfered with, the “interfered” signal, is the “actual” signal.

          Sort of.

          • The interference causes errors by shifting the vector point in the data constellation. To shift it back to where it needs to be, you must add a signal which will cancel the interference. This requires the original signal plus an added vector, which means more power. If you kept the total power constant, you would get a weaker corrected signal and thus lose distance.

            Remember the signal on the line is analog. It doesn’t become digital until the data constellation has been decoded by the modem.

            The method is attempting to overcome the original problem (poor balance within the cable) by brute force. If it does work, it will make a noisy cable even noisier. It will give better isolation between pairs, but will create greater radiation to the outside world.

  6. Fibre strung from power poles is the only real solution for country areas where all the copper is direct buried. While digging to install new conduit would be ok for a township, for a few houses along a long road it’s just not practical.

    There are also suburban areas where copper is laid in dirt, with the odd phone pit to feed a web of overhead leadins to houses. Those areas and places with lots of existing “ugly” paytv cabling could be good candidates for overhead FTTH.

    Insanely my own area has underground services, pits and pipes in good condition, a complete NBNco POP, and even a NBNco backhaul cable to a new estate not more than 100m away. And yet the FTTH rollout is in limbo, while Turnbull stuffs everyone around. Should be a no brainer to install a single cabinet and run a few lengths of fibre, but no as the older areas need new pits and other work, and Telstra are useless at doing it.

  7. If fibre is the only viable solution beyond 2025, where does this place those in towns with <1000 premises, and virtually all rural premises, who are stuck with satellite or sometimes wireless? The vast majority of these have copper, albeit often too far from exchanges to use for broadband. For many of these fibre over powerlines would make sense, provided that the NBN is prepared to extend coverage to non-urban dwellers.

    The suggested life of copper of 10 years I suspect is a minimum not a maximum – certainly my copper is twenty years old with zero problems to date; most of the copper in this area is forty years old, and although problems do happen, they are fairly rare. (This is in a relatively dry climate, life is probably shorter on the coast, but it does point out that blanket numbers such as this shoould be treated with caution.)

    • In 2025, I’d rather people were considering that 7% minority and trying to solve their specific problems, than worrying about 78% of the population.

      If the bulk of the population has access to 100 Mbps by then, the needs of the few can be focused on and solved. FttB, FttC, reduced costs of FttH/N by that time are all possibiliites. I think FttN for a lot of the ~1000 population communities should be an option now, given a lot of them have the bulk of their population within 500m of a centralised point.

      The specific 7% getting fixed wireless or satellite is always going to be an issue, and basically take the role most of rural Australia gets at the moment – poor cousin playing catchup. Its not nice, and I hope solutions are found sooner rather than later, but if the issues are limited to such a relatively small portion, I think they become simpler to solve.

      The “too expensive” argument goes away to a point, when the rest are generating a profit, or basic competition drives the rollout costs down. Thats always been the case, and how regional areas end up catching up – they get recycled equipment in exchanges, or it becomes cost effective to service them.

      The “too far” argument goes away when basic infrastructure is rolling out fiber 95% of the way. How far away is someone from a main road that has a trunk line going down it? What about in the future as lines are upgraded?

      But inevitably, there will always be some group that doesnt deliver an immediate risk v reward benefit, and alternatives need to be used. At least that group is down to 3% or 7% (depending on your situation) rather than 30%+ like in the past.

      Before someone has a hissy fit, that 30% is a guess, representing rural Australia that people refer to as being behind with infrastructure. It could be higher, it could be lower. Point being that in future-Australia, whatever that portion playing catchup now is expected to drop to the 7% on fixed wireless or satellite.

      • According to the NBN Co reports, the next 3% going from 93 to 96% would double the build cost. So it is significantly more expensive getting to those people.

        • Yeah, the point was more that a finding like that can change. Its expensive now, but natural progression will drop the cost per meter down quite significantly over time, so in 10 years will it still double the cost?

          I highly doubt it.

          You’ll have the expense of rolling it out dropping naturally over time, as equipment gets cheaper, and other infrastructure will also reduce the costs as fibre is rolled out down main lines that can be leveraged off. Other solutions may be good enough as well.

          I’ve said before that a lot of the sub-1000 property communities are small enough that a node would hit nearly everyone in town. At least those close enough to get the benefits of fixed wireless.

          As a side note to that, whats the effective range of a fixed wireless tower? Would it be cheaper to stick nodes in and cover the same range?

          • Most of the cost of delivering fibre comes from labour costs. Sure, if you come up with a new technology or technique that saves time there you will reduce rollout costs measurably, but the cost of the labour itself will actually increase over time.

            As for regional communities, while you certainly have a lot of town centres where houses are positioned centrally, there are still a great deal who live too far dispersed for nodes to ever be a viable solution.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against deploying fibre to regional dwellings; quite the opposite. It’s one of the reasons I’m so opposed to the LNP changes to the NBN, because once you remove FTTP you eliminate the possibility for speed tiers and thus your major profit centres (from high RPU customer connections) are lost, which results in lower revenue which reduces the NBN’s economic viability, without which it won’t be returning the billions in profits to the government the FTTP business plans projected, thus it can’t pay for its own ongoing expansion to remote and regional Australians.

            The reality is that we once delivered copper to pretty much every dwelling in the country, so if we could afford and justify that, we can do so with infrastructure that has the potential to last centuries.

          • Fair points TrevorX. What I’m getting at is that as time goes on methods should get faster, and that the natural upgrading of existing services will also help. Techniques usually do get faster with this sort of thing, as the demand creates better methods of doing things, and they can roll out the infrastructure quicker and more efficiently. Like the story here – would using the power lines make it faster to roll out FttH?

            Not saying it WILL be easier, but some of the issues may be self-resolving over the next 10 years. It’s a moot point at the moment, it either will or wont happen, but I expect that by the time the NBN is finished, in whatever form, some of those expensive-now areas will be considerably cheaper.

            As for the 2nd point about widespread areas, I fully agree. Some ARE widespread, and for those the answer is never going to be simple – thats why there are still 3% on satellite. But a lot arent. If you want a simple example, look at a map of Alpha in Queensland. Small community, can get pretty much everyone inside of 500m from one central node, possibly 2 if you want to be safe. Its repeated a lot around the country where a centralised location hits pretty much the entire main township.

            For those areas getting fixed wireless, whats the coverage area for the towers? Line of sight doesnt get everyone when there are hills in the way, so it may be that a node can deliver to everyone that a tower can.

  8. “Putting the fibre on power lines?
    The big killer for optical fibre to the premises is not the cost of the fibre itself, but the cost, time and effort involved in getting the fibre to your home. Imaginative solutions which have failed in the past are threading the fibre down sewer lines and gas pipes. The only really viable solutions on a large scale are to string the fibre on power lines,”

    Here is overhead fiber getting added to my place in Japan. Took all of about 1/2 an hour.
    This is just changing ISP (I got pissed one ISP) as there is actually multiple fiber on the power lines – bit like the Telstra Optus HFC days.

  9. Liberals are much happier spending on roads than any other infrastructure. Why don’t they dig trenches for cabling along every road as they build/maintain them? We would have a very impressive network of conduit for all cables. The amount of money spent on building roads in Australia is ridiculous, so why not add a small bit to the budget and have space for underground fibre/power cabling everywhere. Our governments never seem to plan ahead… they just like to spend on wasteful solutions, or on something where their mates get some benefit…

    • They do, and have for a long time. The problem is, what they originally put in may still be there, and not have been planned for what we need now. In fact, it probably wasnt.

    • What do you do when you need access to the conduit, though? If your duct is under the pavement (walkway) on the side of the road, no big deal. But if it’s under the road you’d need to design it as accessible tunnels so you can get to it via manholes, otherwise if you seal it under the road you’d have to dig it up to get to the ducts.

  10. The NBN has already done fibre strung from powerlines.

    2RIV-01 had large sections of overhead cabling in the design. It commenced construction in August 2011 and 27 months later is still not complete. There was an access issue with AusGrid I believe which held up the rollout where NBNco used the Telecommunications Act to get around the huge money AusGrid wanted for access.

    I also believe that there is some overhead fibre in 2HOM-02.

    You cannot say that overhead is faster – it simply isn’t based on the current experience.

    • It IS faster, when there arent blockers put in to slow it down.

      If there are no issues with the electricity companies or councils, its simply a case of stringing the fibre along the hooks, and attaching the relevant doo-dad’s to the end. If there are issues with the electrical companies or councils, its still no more complicated, but it becomes a political game of satisfying their needs before you string the fibre along the hooks.

      To over simplify it, they might need to do the equivalent of the Telstra negotiations with each and every council and/or electricity company.

      But the actual rollout IS faster, when you get past that negotiation impediment. Its nothing new, and will always be an issue with infrastructure leveraging off existing assets. The owners of those assets will want to make money out of the deal.

      But get past that through negotiation or legislation, and it would be a faster rollout.

  11. It would make sense to do this where appropriate. I have an overhead power line and a telephone cable connected to my house, I certainly wouldn’t complain if the telephone cable got replaced with a fibre optic one.

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