NBN Co taps 'commercial maths' for network design

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NBN Co taps 'commercial maths' for network design

Algorithms could save $200 a premises.

NBN Co has inked a $6.5 million licensing contract for network optimisation software that could reduce construction costs by up to 20 percent.

The software, from Victorian ‘commercial mathematics’ firm Biarri, combines 10 algorithms that describe existing infrastructure, NBN Co’s reference architecture, and costs.

It generates a mathematically optimal design using integer linear programming methods, and suggests solutions within “points of a percent” of the theoretically minimum cost.

According to Biarri director and co-founder Joe Forbes, the software could result in savings of up to $200 per premises.

“Obviously fibre has a cost per metre, but a far greater cost per metre is digging the trench,” he explained.

“There are a number of different dimensions to this; there’s a whole range of constraints and costs.”

Forbes said there was a “gap” in research literature to do with the $36 billion network, which presented a “unique and complex” problem when compared with traditional, piecemeal deployments.

He declined to identify Biarri’s other telco clients, which tended to use its technology as a managed service.

In contrast, NBN Co would keep its design capability in-house, with network designers using Biarri’s software on standard desktops and servers.

Biarri has agreed to provide software licenses, implementation, training, support, and ongoing research and development work as NBN Co’s reference architecture changes.

NBN Co announced last week that the contract could be extended for up to eight years.

Gary McLaren, chief technology officer of NBN Co, said the tool could determine optimal fibre area boundaries, the position of fibre hubs, and the layout and route of distribution and local fibre.

“Biarri has already demonstrated the engine’s capability and benefits on projects for NBN Co,” he stated. “We plan to use their mathematical modelling capability across a range of areas.”

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