NBN Co blames micronode problems on activation process

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NBN Co blames micronode problems on activation process
Photo credit: Stephen Shergold.

Creates new way to get users connected.

NBN Co believes a new activation process will help it finally turn the corner in getting over 40,000 ‘micronode’ users connected to its fibre-to-the-node network.

The network builder yesterday revealed for the first time the extent of the problems with micronodes it has deployed, with 99 percent of the boxes currently inoperable.

Since the problems surfaced last year, it has never been clear why the nodes – which are also known as compact sealed DSLAMs or CSDs – could not be made live.

While questions have been raised about the CSD technology itself, NBN Co denies there are problems with the boxes.

It instead blames the activation process it had initially designed as the root cause of the delays, and a spokesperson said this has now been revamped.

“Under the original commissioning model our technicians would have to open the compact sealed DSLAMs box to perform an install, exposing the electronics to the elements that led to a time and tool intensive installation process,” an NBN Co spokesperson said.

“We have since remediated this process so that commissioning CSDs now only requires modifications to copper in joints outside of the CSD, leading to a faster activation for end users.”

Exactly how NBN Co is now able to activate users without needing to open the DSLAM is unclear.

Asked whether micronode equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent had replaced some of the internal componentry to enable the process change, NBN Co declined to comment, citing commercial sensitivity.

NBN Co said over the weekend that it now expects to switch on the rest of its 1407 micronodes over the course of this year.

Though it had 16 live at the time it produced those figures, the figure is understood to have since climbed into the “dozens”.

One thing that remains somewhat unclear is how premises in the micronode footprint are accounted for in NBN Co’s reported numbers.

Where the CSD is inoperable, the premises are classified as ‘service class 10’ (SC10), which is included in NBN Co’s reported figures for SC0 and equivalent premises.

However, once a CSD is declared “serviceable”, the premises switch to codes “SC11 and above” – which is not counted in the SC0 numbers, despite additional work still being required to facilitate the end-to-end connection to the network.

iTnews was unable by the time of publication to secure a breakdown of how many micronode users were SC10 or SC11-plus.

However, it does confirm that the company's reported SC0 numbers do not include all premises unable to access a retail service, and that the actual number of such premises is likely to be higher than thought.

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