Turnbull shows off Sydney VDSL2 as NBN example

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered up an example of the types of download speeds NBN users on VDSL2 should expect under a potential Coalition government.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

A resident in an inner-west Sydney apartment block was able to receive download speeds of 49Mbps and 38Mbps up in a demonstration of a VDSL fibre-to-the-node connection that Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said will be similar to what National Broadband Network (NBN) users will get under a Coalition government.

Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet

The resident, Paul Shepherd, was said to be accessing a 100Mbps down, 40Mbps up service through internet service provider (ISP) Internode over Openetworks' wholesale open-access VDSL2 single-line network in the Sydney Park Village apartment blocks in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Erskineville. The network is open to all ISPs, but currently 12 ISPs have signed access agreements with the organisation.

Despite being on a 100Mbps plan, in the demonstration to the media, Shepherd was able to get a peak download speed of 49Mbps and a peak upload speed of 38Mbps.

Shepherd's apartment is approximately 500 metres from the node installed, with a second node about 100 metres away from his apartment in the village, according to Openetworks managing director Michael Sparkman, but Turnbull claimed that the speed had been affected by contention in Internode's network.

"He didn't quite get to 100[Mbps] on the download, no doubt due to the contention in [Internode's] network," Turnbull said.

"The speeds that a customer gets will depend, among other things, on the amount of capacity their [provider] is supplying back into the internet."

iiNet, the owner of Internode, clarified to ZDNet after this story was published that the resident was on a 50Mbps download speed, 20Mbps upload speed plan. His service had just been syncing higher than expected, according to iiNet.

Turnbull has faced increasing attacks from Labor over the course of the election campaign for not specifying exact upload speeds that users can expect on a Coalition NBN if the party wins government after Saturday. Turnbull did not say how quickly suburbs like Erskineville could expect to see their broadband connection upgraded under the Coalition, but under Labor's proposal, the suburb is due to have construction commence by June 2015.

The upgrade to Sydney Park Village took three weeks to complete, and so far, around 40 premises of the 850 in the apartment block have expressed an interest in taking up a VDSL service. The per-premises cost for upgrade is AU$200 for Openetworks, and to go to a vectored or bonded DSL product, which would offer even higher speeds, would cost between AU$400 and AU$500 per premises through swapping out the DSLAM for a specific apartment block. Sparksman said that providing fibre to each premises in the apartment block would be around AU$5,000.

"If we were to provide, as Labor has provided, a fibre-to-the-home solution, a buyer could order it, we could upgrade it, but it would cost a considerable amount of money to do so," Sparksman said.

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Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet

He said that much of the network equipment would need to be replaced, and it would be far more labour intensive.

"We'd be fibring through the car park, up through the rises, down through the corridors. You'd be doing repairs and maintenance to all the walls and ceilings," he said.

"At this point in time, there is no demand for it."

Sparksman said that the wholesale price for services on Openetworks is lower than NBN Co's present wholesale price. Currently, legislation prohibits so-called "cherry pickers" from building new high-speed broadband networks in profitable places to compete with the NBN unless it offers the same wholesale-only service offered by NBN Co. Turnbull said that if the Coalition wins the election, wholesale providers would still be able to compete with the NBN.

"We're not going to prevent competition with the NBN; we think that's something that certainly shouldn't be obstructed, as long as the competitors are common carriers and are providing a wholesale service, that is important," he said.

Openetworks was one of the major greenfields fibre providers to complain about NBN Co's intervention into that market, stating back in 2011 that by offering to install the fibre to new housing developments for free, NBN Co would be running the other providers out of business.

Updated at 9:15am AEST September 9 2013: Added information about the resident's service provided by iiNet, and clarified that the second node was 100 metres away

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