Future NBN Co tasked with meeting Coalition's speed pledge

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Future NBN Co tasked with meeting Coalition's speed pledge

Small nodes under big nodes required?

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull will leave it to a future NBN Co to find a technical solution to deliver a minimum downlink of 25 Mbps and determine appropriate uplink speeds on a reformatted National Broadband Network.

Speaking in an online debate with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy this morning, Turnbull said NBN Co would be instructed "to ensure that nobody has less than 25 Mbps" on the downlink.

A central plank of the Coalition's NBN proposal is to deliver a "minimum download data rate of 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016 in all areas of Australia". (pdf)

During the debate, which was hosted by ZDNet and OurSay, Turnbull raised the possibility of deploying a series of smaller nodes under larger FTTN nodes to meet the speed pledge, although ultimately it would be up to NBN Co to achieve the speed promise.

"It may be that in some areas what you would need to do is take a smaller node out further into the field," he said.

"This might be a device that is small enough to fit into a Telstra pit, for example, what some telcos refer to as fibre extension modules.

"For example, you might have a larger node which is serving a couple of hundred premises. You may have 30 premises one-and-a-half, two kilometres away from that node that were really at the end of a very long copper loop.

"So you say, 'OK, we can't give them sufficient speed. We'll take the fibre out to another node that's closer to those 30 or 40 premises' — that's what you might call a fibre extension module — and that then gives them the same outcome."

Turnbull said such a network topology is "very well understood" and "feasible" for Australia, although it appeared NBN Co would have final input on the technical solution needed to meet the minimum network speed outcome.

Similarly, NBN Co would be given substantial say in what sort of upload speeds were possible on a Coalition NBN.

"The ratio of download/upload is a commercial decision that a future NBN Co would make," Turnbull said.

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