Saturday, 18 April 2009

Just one thing about that fibre......

It looks like they're hot for fibre to the home in the UK as well, although BT (British Telecom) don't want to do it because the economics suck.

I read today that the assumption is that the existing copper network in the UK will eventually be phased out and everyone will be forced onto the fibre.

So we have a bright, rosy future where if we want some sort of landline at home, we will have to move to VOIP. I like using something with a cable attached from time to time - I don't want to irradiate my head all day long with a wireless or mobile system.

Anyway, here's one small flaw in the fibre.

With the existing copper network, your phone at home (assuming you still have one) is powered from the exchange. If your house loses power, your landline will still function - assuming the generator and UPS down at the exchange are routinely tested and working, and the generator doesn't run out of diesel before the power comes back on.

With fibre, you need to provide power at your end to whatever network device that lights up your end of the fibre (the small unit I have linked to costs $472 ex-GST too). So if you want to have a VOIP service that still works when you are sitting in darkness, you will need a UPS and perhaps even a small generator at home.

Now you could of course say that you will be happy to fall back on your mobile phone if there is an emergency, but it's a bit hard to call an ambulance in a black out if your phone goes flat.... and how are you going to charge it then? You're also assuming that the mobile network will remain uncongested during a blackout when everyone else has also lost their landlines - which is an assumption likely to make an ass out of U and me (assume = ass-u-me).

I'm wondering how the emergency services will react to that small fly in the ointment - if they've even thought of it. The other thing is that your ISP will have no offer you a VOIP service (which the likes of iiNet already do), but I don't think the ISP's are currently offering VOIP with the same level of uptime as the Telstra landline network. It's amazing how big a gap there is in reliability between something that offers 99.999% reliability and 99.9%. Do the sums yourself.


In Bournemouth in the UK:
The fibre broadband is being delivered to the homes through the sewer network which is how the costs are being kept lower as there is 90% less digging and the fibre optic network can be laid much faster. The total cost is expected to be around £30 million.

Using the sewers? So now they will have crap flowing in and out of the house via the same pipes.

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