A crucial piece in global broadband jigsaw

Earlier this year, nbn joined the Broadband Forum – the global broadband standards body – just in time to reap the rewards of some critical new work.

Broadband is a truly wonderful thing - it allows people from all over the planet to communicate in all sorts of ways.

But it’s easy to forget that this is only possible because a huge army of technology professionals are working “behind the curtain” to keep the show running smoothly.

The internet is an extraordinarily complex environment in which people are connecting via a wide array of networks and devices – and that creates extraordinary complexity in a number of different ways. 

For example, somebody could be making a Skype call from their Smartphone or other WiFi-enabled device over their nbn™ Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connection in Australia to a friend in Malaysia who is connected via a 4G mobile network to their PC – they might then patch in another friend connected via satellite broadband via their Tablet. 

What makes all of this interaction between global networks and a myriad of different devices possible are globally agreed technological standards which make sure that our communications are seamless and glitch-free because all of that kit is inter-operable and works together.

Playing our part

Earlier this year, to help play our part in this process, nbn joined the Broadband Forum, which works with telecom operators globally to develop common standards. And from the way things have panned out, we have joined at a great time!

The Broadband Forum has just created a new technical specification which establishes a blueprint for making sure that all operator hardware used to deploy new super-fast broadband technology G.Fast over a new type of broadband network (Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point [FTTdP]) is inter-operable.

This means making sure that a piece of G.Fast kit manufactured in Germany – principally the micro-nodes which connect from a ‘distribution point’ (usually in an underground street pit or from a telegraph pole) to end-user premises - can work in harmony on the same network as a piece of G.Fast kit made in China or India.

Having devices that can work together from a multitude of operators is crucial for telecom operators as it means that they can work with a range of different hardware vendors for their network hardware and are not locked into using a single vendor.

The Broadband Forum says that getting a globally-agreed specification for operators to work from will help scale up G.Fast equipment orders – and thereby bring down hardware costs for operators.

What it means for us

nbn is still in the very early stages of investigating how we might deploy G.Fast in the Australian market – our network rollout is not as advanced as the likes of Openreach in the UK or Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan – the operators most likely to be the first to launch G.Fast commercially over the next year.

However, the work being done by the Broadband Forum remains very beneficial for us as it provides a great template from which the industry can build an excellent G.Fast deployment model from an FTTdP network architecture.

In particular, it means that when nbn does come to deploy G.Fast, there is more likely to be a rapidly maturing G.Fast eco-system in the global market which we can tap into. 

And with the economies of scale on offer, we will be able to do so at a much reduced cost.