Saturday, April 18, 2009

So how are they going to lay down all this fibre?

Won't they have to dig up everywhere?

And won't the cost be GINORMOUS?

I reckon it won't.

Here are 3 reasons why: (you might find the third unsavory if you are uncomfortable around toilets)

1. Virtually every time Telstra has dug up a street in recent years it has laid down fibre alongside copper wires. It costs next-to-nothing, and it is there just in case. The streets of Mount Gambier and Orange are apparently full of it.

It is known as "dark fibre" because it isn't yet lit. It is waiting for a purpose.

If Telstra does take part in the government-led Fibre-To-Premises consortium, it will tip in this valuable but otherwise useless pre-existing fibre in return for equity. It will get money for nothing (equity actually).

2. Getting fibre to houses and businesses in actually pretty easy, where there are power poles...

In the ACT the electricity authority part-owns Transact which hangs fibre cables off the electricity poles and then slings wires into houses. It doesn't use the Telstra wires. As I wrote once, the Telstra sockets remain intact, unloved and unused on skirting boards througout Canberra.

What goes in to each house is actually new copper wire, from junction boxes such as this one I photographed this morning, but the cost would be the same for stringin in a fibre - not that much. The total cost of the Transact service is reasonable Indeed, phone calls from Transact  to Transact customers (that bypass Telstra) are free.

3. But in places such as Gungahlin in the ACT and Elizabeth, north of Adealaide the electrical wiring is underground - because those new cities  were "modern" and underground wiring was thought then to be modern.  There are no poles from which to sling wires. Getting any new service into the houses is difficult. So what to do?

Use the sewerage pipes. I mean it. Have the fibre coming into each toilet bowl.  Japan and the US are already doing it. There is plenty of room within each sewage pipe, and every home already has the sewer connected. The fibre swims in the sewage and a tiny robot clears the pipes to give it lots of room - an added bonus.  It is much cheaper than digging new trenches.

Speed-of-light communication to most Australian businesses and houses could be easier and cheaper than many people believe.