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Sunday, July 30, 2017

NBN Co explained

Yay Aussies, there is now a lot of discussion about NBN Co, how terrible they are and what not, and how they are now succeeding where they should have failed. So how did this come to be? Let me break it down for you, it's all related to this thing called the Internet which is the network of all networks.

There is a lot of discussion that the NBN Co was created to increase the speed of the Internet in Australia. This is sort of correct, but there is a lot more too it. At the time that NBN Co was conceived, the Internet (version 4), had a serious problem and that issue was not related to speed, but "addresses". Each device that connects to the Internet needs an "address" which is simply a number and version 4 of the Internet allows for 4,294,967,296 addresses. Whilst 4 over billion seems like a big number, think about the number of people and computers in the world, the reality is the "great firewall of China" saved the Internet from dying ten years ago.

Now obviously the IETF, the people that govern the Internet, foresaw this problem and met together to address the problem. There were enough disagreements that version 5 of the Internet was scrapped altogether but they got their shit together and invented a solid version 6 of the Internet. Version 6 of the Internet had 3.40282366921e+38 addresses, almost enough to WiFi enable every second piece of sand on the planet, awesome! The IETF even had this crazy idea that version 6 of the Internet should be better than version 4, for example faster! I can not find references, but there was a consensus that you needed to be fast (100MB/s) to access version 6 of the Internet.

Now the Internet version 4 and 6 needed to coexist whilst people transitioned from the old to the new. So what happened next? Everyone, and I mean everyone, even the fucking idiots, realized we'd need to replace our copper cable with fiber optic cable to get the new sweet speeds of the new sweet Internet version 6. Even the "geniuses" running NBN Co (or whatever it was called at the time) knew this at the time.

Replacing all the copper with fiber was going to cost a lot of money. Fiber had already rolled out, the Internet would never have began without it, all the cities and telephone exchanges were already connected by fiber. It was the many connections between the exchanges and the houses that would need their copper replaced. It was going to cost billions, and so the NBN Co go their billions.

So what did the NBN Co do with their billions? Figure out ways to pretend they spend it on infrastructure! Tasked with the simple task of laying fiber optic cable to every single house in Australia NBN Co decided that rather than do this it would try to make money from an infrastructure project that was never ever going to make money.

So how did NBN Co manage to take in billions whilst not rolling out infrastructure? By lying. NBN Co decided to "upgrade" the existing infrastructure. NBN Co upgraded the horrible cable network from DOCSIS 3.0 to 3.1 and simply lied about the upload speeds. Whilst they were initially honest about it, they replaced ADSL infrastructure with VDSL2+ infrastructure (ie: not fiber). Naturally they failed because VDSL doesn't work as far as ADSL so to fix this they invented FTTN (Green boxes of VDSL2+ modems you can see all over the country side). Essentially NBN Co has taken billions and changed not much, just putting VDSL2+ hardware only where it is absolutely needed where fiber should have been placed and where DOCSIS 3.1 just fucking dies, depending on who lives one the street.

So what is the end result? DOCSIS (the cable network) never has or never will meet the expectations set to the Australian public by Senator Richard Alston, will eventually be replaced by VDSL2+. All VDSL2+ boxes will be replaced by a company (most likely from Singapore) that will envisage the Australian dream of 100MB/s+ Internet speeds.

End result? The fuckers that stole billions in the NBN Co project will get to keep it. When we do get fiber to the house, as we were told we would be, we'll find we're fifty years behind Vietnam in technology.

And get this, if you're an American you may flip out, but the NBN Co in Australia is apparently compulsory.

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