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Australia's Telstra Requires Fibre Customers To Use Copper Telephone

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the v8-and-a-buggywhip dept.

Australia 217

daria42 writes "Progress is happening rapidly in Australia, with the country's government continuing to roll out a nation-wide fibre network. However, the country's major telco Telstra doesn't appear to have quite gotten the message. Releasing its first National Broadband Network fibre broadband plans today, the telco stipulated that fibre customers will still be forced to make phone calls over the telco's existing copper network. Yup, that's right — fibre to people's houses, but phone calls over the copper network. Progress."

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Typical (4, Insightful)

SultanCemil (722533) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169449)

Some cynical people might even suspect a plot here - our right wing party would love to bury the NBN and have been claiming that it'll be more expensive than ADSL services - perhaps Telstra wants to give them more ammunition, and muddy the waters at the same time?

Re:Typical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169637)

jo_ham AKA bonch is a faggot.

Re:Typical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39170427)

jo_ham AKA bonch is a faggot.

Bonch isn't a faggot.

He's one of a fistful of sockpuppets run by an advertising company's reputation management team.

The rest of you are faggots for letting them walk all over you instead of tracking them down and exposing the filthbags.

This is Australia calling. (4, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169685)

It's Telstra, what do you expect. This is the company that has kept regional centres on dialup and whilst giving a RIM-job [] to major urban centres.

They have repeatedly been busted for telling other telco's "there are no ports available at X exchange" but then selling Telstra ADSL services from the same supposedly full exchange.

Do you honestly expect Telstra not to try and screw up the NBN.

Re:This is Australia calling. (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169975)

Sounds simple enough to me: They have low moral standards and are trying to maximize profits. Welcome to the real world.

(This applies to the summary too...)

Re:This is Australia calling. (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170521)

Do you honestly expect Telstra not to try and screw up the NBN.

Well, telstra is selling the copper network to the NBN, so who knows, telstra is going to make a packet at the taxpayers expense. I personally think there's merit in maintaining the copper network, only because, it doesn't switch off in a blackout, but i suppose, with the prevalance of mobiles, it's probably much of a muchness.

Could make sense (5, Informative)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169451)

Fiber requires external power for the lasers.
Traditional phones lines are powered by the telco so they'll work during a standard blackout.

Re:Could make sense (5, Informative)

miaDWZ (820679) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169463)

Traditional phones lines are powered by the telco so they'll work during a standard blackout.

All NBN endpoints have a backup battery to allow phones to continue to work for a good few hours even in a power outage.

Re:Could make sense (3, Informative)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169477)

All NBN endpoints have a backup battery to allow phones to continue to work for a good few hours even in a power outage.

The telco (unless it is third world) will have massive diesel generators (and a stock pile of diesel) to keep things operational in an emergency. As long as there is electricity or diesel the phones should continue to work.

Re:Could make sense (4, Insightful)

miaDWZ (820679) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169515)

The telco (unless it is third world) will have massive diesel generators (and a stock pile of diesel) to keep things operational in an emergency. As long as there is electricity or diesel the phones should continue to work.

That's true. Although, in reality I think 9/10 households will be using a cordless phone which will be useless in a power outage, regardless to how you're hooked into the phone network. Speaking of which, can you even buy non-cordless phones these days?

Re:Could make sense (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169573)

I bought one in September 2010...


Re:Could make sense (2)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169621)

Whether they are using a cordless one doesn't mean they don't have corded as a backup? I know we do.

Re:Could make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169733)

Yah, but you're one of the few people who looks past the end of your nose to see what's going on.

I'm not going to give up the plain old copper phone line and at least one simple phone set that it powers for just the reason that it will still work if all the other power goes out. Everyone else will be clogging up the cell bandwidth and we'll still have a direct line.

Re:Could make sense (1)

Mr0bvious (968303) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169773)

Whilst this may be true, I don't see the relevance - Those handsets will operate exactly the same in both circumstances.

Re:Could make sense (4, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169987)

They won't operate the same at all.

If "copper telephones" are anything like what we have in the US, a corded telephone connected to the wall receives all the power it needs to operate from the CO (central office) in the street. In this situation the telco does not need to concern itself about any equipment on-premises. As long as the customer has a standard cordless telephone that is enough to place a call.

This is the primary reason why people claim that corded telephones and copper service is the most reliable method of communication in an emergency. Which is true as long as you place zero responsibility on the consumer beyond the possession of a standard telephone required for service.

The alternative is still fairly cheap, but it requires telcos to actually upgrade. There is no reason that the same battery/diesel backups in the CO's can't be used as a backup for fiber.

What is not solved is that you now need battery backup on-premises. That is not an insurmountable problem. Most cable companies in the US have been offering VOIP service for years with equipment that has built-in battery backups. It varies, but I have seen VOIP only equipment that allows a standard phone connection, and cablemodem/VOIP combos that do both. In any case, $50 at any electronics store will get you a battery backup capable of a few hours with the load from a base station for a cordless telephone.

The biggest challenge in the US has been providing emergency phone call support. For quite some time VOIP services offered by the cable companies did not have the capability of connecting you to the correct PSAP and transmitting the correct information. To my knowledge that has been largely solved. The major VOIP providers I deal with have been offering e911 services for almost two years and I have been able to offer 911 on any VOIP desk phone in any branch office with only minor coding efforts.

I don't know how much money the telcos would gain by getting rid the COs entirely. I am betting that they are staying on copper for telephone because it is cheaper than upgrading all the COs to fiber and providing customers on-premises equipment that they have never had to provide before.

Also remember, that battery/diesel backups don't last forever anyways. That goes for cell phone towers too. Any major disaster with sustained power outages for more than a day or two is going to see severe impact in service for all communications.

Re:Could make sense (4, Informative)

Mr0bvious (968303) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170067)

Indeed - sorry I must have been half asleep (perhaps fully asleep) when I made that post - for some reason I thought the OP I replied too was claiming that the cordless phones will be useless in a power outage when the fibre replaces the copper - obviously upon rereading that post I was actually in fierce agreement with the OP..

I'll get back in my box now..

ps, I'm an Australian and pretty much everyone I know uses their mobile (cell) phone as their primary voice contact device - we use our copper lines for our ADSL connections... I don't even have a handset plugged into my copper outlet.

The rental on a copper line from Telstra is over $30 a month - all we get for that is the ability to make charged phone calls - I make none, so I pay $30 a month to Telstra for my phone line just to get ADSL from my ISP over. My ISP charges me $50 a month for a 100GB of data over a ADSL 2 connection over that Telstra copper - I can only acheive a very poor 1 - 2Mb over that very poor and under maintained expensive Telstra copper and I'm in a nice dense suburban area. So I end up paying over $80 a month for a poor 1 - 2Mb connection.

I can go 'naked' - that's the term for having a internet connection without paying Telstra for the copper - you pay the ISP instead, and the ISP install hardware in the Telstra exchange to handle their own back haul. But this saves only $60 a year as the ISP need to pay telstra a portion still, hardly worth it for the down side... Basically Telstra applies a tax on the entire copper system, that I'm sure I've paid for now at least 10 times over.. Its a hideous monopoly that I can't wait to see the back of.

9/10 households (2)

6031769 (829845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170493)

If you believe the stats which are constantly flung at us, maybe 90% of adults have a mobile phone. Certainly, if I were concerned about the reliability of a fibre link to the premises for phone calls I would be using mobile as a backup, not copper.

Re:Could make sense (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169527)

At least that is how it is suppose to work ..Unless of course the guy who architects the backup system uses an electric pump to push diesel from the tanks to the generator... and that pump is tied into the standard power grid :)

Re:Could make sense (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169593)


While this may sound crazy I've met plenty of people over the years who'd actually be stupid enough to do that.

Re:Could make sense (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169831)

Even then, hook up the pump to the backup, manually transfer some fuel to the generator and start it up

Re:Could make sense (1)

AgNO3 (878843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170077)

except that most of these generators or TURBINES that once started generate all their own power to run themselves.

Re:Could make sense (3, Informative)

deek (22697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169623)

Fibre based phones requires power to devices on both ends. Copper based phones can (and are) powered by the telco on their end.

So those massive diesel generators aren't going to be much use in an emergency, for a fibre network.

Re:Could make sense (3, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169495)

Power failures can last several days. Parts of the north eastern U.S. and Ontario have been blacked out for several days at a time. Montreal was hit by an ice-storm that caused them to lose power for several days too.

It doesn't happen often, but the problem with big disasters is that they are big. Emergency equipment still has to run.

Copper phone line work well as a backup.

Re:Could make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169751)

If ice storm knock down the power line, it will knock down the phone line too. During big disaster the phone lines, if working, are unreliable. A day worth of battery backup is adequate. Pass 24 hours, you will be on your own with or without phone lines. Make a plan today; a safe place to meet for your family or an other way of communication.

During a disaster the emergency services will be overloaded. Who are you going to call anyway?

Re:Could make sense (5, Funny)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169817)

If ice storm knock down the power line, it will knock down the phone line too.

It just goes to show the cavalier attitude of the Labor government that they haven't adequately planned for vast tracts of Australia being taken out by ice storms.

Re:Could make sense (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169825)

The only reason I have a land-line is because I have to have one to get ADSL. I haven't had a land-line phone hooked up in years and make all my calls on mobile phones.

In cases of power outages, if I do need to make a phone call for some reason (e.g. to the power company to check on the ETA for power coming back on) I use my mobile (and with one exception during a MASSIVE city-wide storm) I have never had the mobile towers go down even during blackouts.

And yes I am in Australia and want NBN when it hits my area and will be glad when I can say goodbye to Telstra forever.

Re:Could make sense (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169839)

Phone line:Underground
Power line:above ground
Why will both be knocked down together?

Re:Could make sense (1)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169841)

Not many ice storms in Australia, mate. Perhaps in the Victorian/New South Wales highlands but most of the phone lines are run underground anyway.

Re:Could make sense (2)

atomicthumbs (824207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169867)

I live in California, in the Bay Area. In 2001, our power went out for a week after a big rainstorm. The telephones worked fine the entire time. We wouldn't have been able to check on my grandparents if we had had one of today's fiber telephones.

Re:Could make sense (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169807)

Southwest Arkansas and northeast Texas had an ice storm, and some parts of the area were without power for 47 days. My house was near the end of the line for repairs, at 32 days. I don't think there is anyplace in the world immune to the wrath of Mother Nature.

Re:Could make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169503)

Of course this is just my experience, but several years ago my city was hit hard by a windstorm. We didn't have power for over a week, but our phones worked just fine throughout.

Re:Could make sense (4, Interesting)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169611)

Mod Gradparent Up !

In some magical land, all endpoints have battery backup. In Romania, for example, they don't - a backup battery must be replaced every 3 years or so - which can become expensive. I refused to allow the local telco to install FTTH in my apartment building as all the cooper landlines (powered by the large battery pack + diesel generator at the CO) would have been replaced by VoIP over that fibre. Lousy audio quality, no battery backup, end-point equipment usually locks up during brown-outs. I'm ok with slower ADSL that works 24/7.

Way to go, Telestra ! They still have some smart people in charge.

Re:Could make sense (2)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169797)

In Romania

I work with some Romanian developers (and I'm Australian), and our infrastructure in this regard, is a LOT better.

Re:Could make sense (1)

Antarell (930241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170019)

I'm ok with slower ADSL that works 24/7.

Way to go, Telestra ! They still have some smart people in charge.

And how do you power your ADSL modem in the blackout? UPS? The same as the NTU in the FTTH can have? Personally I can't wait until the NBN get's here. If we have a blackout I tether my mobile to my laptop to keep in touch with the internet if required. Otherwise I joy the novelty of it with the family (the kids think it's a hoot!). Seriously not having the internet/phones for hour/day isn't the end of the world. They lived without them both not so long ago.

Re:Could make sense (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170397)

Don't underestimate my UPS :-)

I have seen the insides of the "pizza boxes" they house their endpoint FTTH equipment into. Not a single battery in sight. I specifically checked for this.

Re:Could make sense (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170055)

You realize that (1) like the entire telecommunications infrastructure is digital from the exchange onwards right? It's all a-law or -law from that point on. (2) Your perception of VOIP is largely based on the unreliable and slow upload speeds of ADSL2 connections (which get contested by all your other internet access) and (3) how many types of disaster do you think are actually prevented by the telephone system's remote power requirement, given that it's not actually guaranteed nor particularly reliable for the vast number of cases it may happen: around Sydney if a storm knocks out the power it's also going to have taken down the phone lines.

Re:Could make sense (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170375)

1) Yes, i know. I worked for that telco.
2) The endpoint VoIP equipment is not carrier-grade. It's lower-bidder, lowest-bandwidth grade. Huawei if you're lucky. I have a VoIP phone line from their competitor - all calls sound like on a GSM phone or worse.
3) In order to call the Power company to report a blackout, you have to dial their "short" number. Free on a fixed line, extra cost per minute from a mobile phone. And if your mobile phone is low on battery, good luck navigating their voice prompts and waiting on the line. Here the phone lines are usually buried. And never fail.

Re:Could make sense (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170331)

What I don't get is why they don't just use the old copper to power the CPE. Surely it can't take more than a hundred milliamps to run the laser and a little embedded processor, and perhaps a bit more to ring the phones.

Re:Could make sense (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170433)

Here, the endpoint boxes they install in apartment buildings use power from the hallway lighting. Which is paid by the owners of the appartments. And not by them = savings. And after everyone is converted, the cooper trunks can be dug out and sold for scrap as the prices of cooper have skyrocketed. And if you no longer have a cooper line to the CO, you can no longer call on that anti-monopoly laws which allowed you to get a different ADSL provider on those lines.

Re:Could make sense (1)

Antarell (930241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169641)

It could make sense but how many have line powered phones anymore? We haven't for at least 10 years (about the same length of time I have had a mobile funnily enough!)

Re:Could make sense (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169741)

I was thinking the same when I first read it. They've also copped flak in the media in the past over sob stories where someone who lives in rural Australia demands their phone have 100% uptime because they have a sick kid, yet they don't want to pay for a satellite phone backup or move to an area with closer medical facilities. It's probably a fair call until long-term reliability is known.

Also it sounds like you only need copper for a traditional phone account, you can still go with cell and/or VoIP only. I guess the main people it sucks for are completely new installations where you may have to pay extra to get a combined copper / fiber install, although the last time I got an extra line installed it must have been subsidised a lot because it was $150 odd even when they had to dig up parts of the street etc.

Re:Could make sense (4, Insightful)

atomicthumbs (824207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169871)

Should someone really have to buy a very expensive satellite phone + plan, or move somewhere else, because their telephone company wants to replace their (perfectly fine) POTS connection with something that stops working a little while after the power goes out?

Re:Could make sense (2)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170513)

Well the TFA is about Telstra not wanting to replace their perfectly fine POTS connection, presumably for that very reason. I was commenting that even with the good old POTS system they expect 100% uptime and immediate fault resolution. In remote areas much of the fiber will run above ground, as does most residential mains power in Australia. About 90% of my local power outages are a result of vehicle accidents, how fast can they expect a fiber cable to be replaced when it's 100KM from a major center and services 10 customers?

Re:Could make sense (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169827)

Don't kid yourself. Telstra are doing it for one reason: Money. They have an existing copper network, if it fails to generate revenue it turns into a worthless multi-billion dollar liability that they will still have to maintain year after year.
Their New Zealand subsidiary, TelstraClear, kicked up a huge fuss about over-building their docsis cable network with a government subsidised national fibre network build. They threw their toys out their cot and threatened to shut up shop and leave the country.
Last time I was on their cable network you couldn't buy internet services without a $50/month phone line.

Re:Could make sense (1)

mvar (1386987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169933)

Although POTS telephony is indeed better in a power failure case, on this occasion i think it has more to do with the provider's infrastructure. If you were to deploy telephony over fiber, that would probably be voip telephony which translates to the cost of an additional SIP-capable (or some other protocol) modem, and a whole shit of infrastructure changes on the provider's backbone like class 5 soft-switches, customer provisioning, personnel training etc, it's a nightmare. And as we all know, if it ain't broken don't fix it

Re:Could make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169939)

A phone line offers no advantage over cell so allot of people simply don't have copper phones any more.

progress (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169467)

Australians' do not require Telstra.

Re:progress (5, Insightful)

Ghaoth (1196241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169571)

I suggest you don't live here. There are many parts of Australia where Telstra is the only supplier. their mandate, aparrt from making money, is to provide communications to all of Austrlaia. Most of the other companies suck in rural and outback areas. It there was an alternative, that would be called competition.

Re:progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169949)

There are many parts of Australia where Telstra is the only supplier.

And then there are many parts on the outskirts of Sydney where the Vodaphone and Optus cellular networks simply cannot hack it. There's competition, but Telstra is the often the only option that actually works.

100Mbps with a 200gb cap (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169473)

what is the point of a speed that fast with a download cap that small?

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169529)

Umm.. Because a file download 10 times faster than ADSL? I'm a pretty average user, and don't need anything close to 200GB.

But a 1GB video would download in about a minute at 100Mbps, vs about 10 minutes with ADSL. Then there's the latency of fibre vs copper (not to mention wireless).

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169703)

Is that 1GB video file less than 10 minutes long?
If it is, then it must be pretty high quality... If not, then you can just start watching it before the download is complete so the download speed becomes irrelevant once its faster than the playback speed.

A 200GB cap equates to around 600kbit/month, so what your actually getting is a 600kbit connection which is burstable to 100mbit.

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169791)

Fine - CD or DVD images, then.
Just because I'm not downloading at 10MB/s 24/7 does not mean that I am unable to appreciate it finishing more quickly when I am downloading.

Oh, and did you read what you just wrote?
"download speed becomes irrelevant once its faster than the playback speed." -> "... a 600kbit connection ..."
What if I want to watch a video with a higher bitrate than 600k? Is that unreasonable, just because I won't be streaming video constantly all month?


Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169963)

Is that 1GB video file less than 10 minutes long?

If you're really that lacking in imagination, what the hell do you need 200GB/mo for? If the most bandwidth intensive thing you do is download streaming media, and you prefer your porn^W video at 1.5Mbps, you really watch more than 8 hours of video a day?

Some transfer protocols don't support reliable streaming. Streaming just doesn't make sense for the most bandwidth intensive tasks.

A modern game typically takes me more than 2 hours to download (with my ~2km ADSL connection). That'd be ready to go in 15 minutes at 100Mbps.

A 200GB cap equates to around 600kbit/month, so what your actually getting is a 600kbit connection which is burstable to 100mbit.

Now you're getting it! The original question was: "what is the point of a speed that fast with a download cap that small?". The answer is kind of obvious, right? "[The] connection [...] is burstable to 100mbit."

Not sure of the relevance of 600kbps is though - I don't know too many people that aim to spread their quota evenly throughout the month. Most downloads are bursted.

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169545)

The Average Usage even on a lot of large cap plans for those with decent connections in Australia is around 30GB, 10mb connections to 100Mbps is not going to suddenly make 10 times more content available. Sure there are those fringe users that try to download the entire internets porn collection every month, but they really are the minority (even if I do happen to be one of them).

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169883)

Don't forget that Telstra's internet branch - Bigpond, doesn't count downloads off their own servers. It's free. So if they retain that policy, you can stream stuff for nothing and doesn't add to the plan. Uploads are NOT free and are counted towards the plan.
Bigpond competitors have much bigger cap plans as a response, so you're more likely to get a 1T plan to cater for video streaming which will become the defacto standard when the NBN is finished.
It is crazy though as here we have Satellite for video, copper for phone and ADSL and Towers for mobiles (Cell phones) - soon Fibre. So an average household would have all or a combination of these.

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169561)

Overage charges? (I don't know that they have those though).

Re:100Mbps with a 200gb cap (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169881)

There are 1TB plans out in the marketplace, why would you assume that the cap would remain constant?

No doubt someone will come out with a 100Mbps 'unlimited' plan.. of course, the contention ratio would be a very big number.

Really a big deal? (3, Insightful)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169475)

POTS infrastructure is fully depreciated, lines are self-powered and system is completely compatible with all existing equipment. Even if you put a fibre-based POTS system in every exchange you'd still need to keep the copper running for non-subscribers. Seems like a reasonable trade-off if they are taking the savings and using the capital to accelerate the roll-out of fibre internet.

Interested to hear from an actual telecom engineer about how hard/expensive it would be to update the exchanges.

Re:Really a big deal? (4, Interesting)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169549)

All copper lines in the fibre footprint under the Australian NBN rollout are being decommissioned, the only people who will remain are those getting wireless or satellite broadband services, for POTS usage.

Some would argue that Telstra, by keeping the copper lines active until forced to decommission them (as is the deal), makes it easier for a future opposition government to scuttle the fibre rollout.

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169851)

Some would argue that Telstra, by keeping the copper lines active until forced to decommission them (as is the deal), makes it easier for a future opposition government to scuttle the fibre rollout.

Well, Verizon with their FIOS service in the USA will actually REMOVE the copper POTS cable entirely, so you can't go back to POTS/DSL even if you (or whoever you eventually sell the house to) want to.

Verizon will charge up the wazoo to put in a fresh copper cable.

Re:Really a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169553)

"you'd still need to keep the copper running for non-subscribers"

How long after the uptake of fibre do you think Telstra will continue to maintain aging and progressively less profitable copper infrastructure?

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169627)

This is not a reasonable trade off.
Telstra has a monopoly on copper, but their agreement with the government owned NBN Co
is that Telstra will switch its internet customers to NBN fiber when it rolls out to their area.

What the contract doesn't stipulate is telephone usage.
So Telstra is trying to squeeze the very last drops out of their copper network while they can.
That is the only reason they are making it a forced bundle.

What we're seeing are the final struggles of a dying monopoly.
Unfortunately, Telstra will never go away, as the NBN will be leasing
access to ducting and exchange space until fiber is no longer needed.

The big deal is... (1)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169653)

For this to be a successful bit of infrastructure the government needs the NBN to reach a point where they are self sustaining in a reasonable amount of time. This means that the large ISPs had to sign contracts to move people away from ADSL. To combat this, the ISPs seem to be pushing their customers to move to cable, they are trying to keep customers on their old telephony infrastructure, and are holding out on negotiating some things with the NBN Co.

In essence, they are using their market power to push back on the NBN, to try get the most favourable contracts possible, while locking their customers into old infrastructure technology, which means the NBN may take a lot longer to become a viable project.

"'d still need to keep the copper running for non-subscribers"

There aren't supposed to be any non-subscribers, as all telephone, internet, and eventually television, is supposed to run over fiber.

"Seems like a reasonable trade-off if they are taking the savings and using the capital to accelerate the roll-out of fibre internet."

They aren't. They are doing this, if anything, to hamper the roll-out of the fiber. It's also good to remember, that this company (Telstra) was essentially given this infrastructure by the government, as it was previously Australia's telecom monopoly. Now they use that infrastructure as a weapon. The NBN Co (the people rolling out the fiber) are a completely separate entity.

"Even if you put a fibre-based POTS system in every exchange..."

You don't need this, as VoIP has been around for a fair while now, and many ISP's bundle their internet with VoIP. Most modern routers have ports for it, so it's not a problem. They aren't self powered, but most people have mobile phones which work fine most of the time, and many people have wireless home phones which also don't work when the power goes out. I'm sure that if this was a real problem, more solutions for self-powered would come up.

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169709)

And it's not like stationary SIP is difficult to set up. Hell, most routers I've seen lately have an actual RJ-XX (the one that looks like a smaller RJ45) socket for phones, specifically for use with SIP... I know mine does.

If you really want voice over your new fibre: Set it up yourself. If not, well, just keep using POTS, because you probably won't know the difference anyway...

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170135)

Really? Most routers I have seen have RJ-11 socket so you can connect it to the phone line if you have DSL.

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170243)

Really. Here's a picture I just snapped of the bog-standard router that came with my DSL package: []

As you can see, phone jacks, and there's a whole fully configurable SIP stack in the web interface. The one all the way on the left is the DSL line, and I'm assuming the one on the right is for some special kind of phone (ISDN maybe).

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169943)

The fiber system is being paid for by the government, not Telstra. Every fiber box includes a battery-backed VoIP gateway device that you plug a PSTN phone into (either line powered or wall powered) and which sends phone signals over the fiber link back through the network to the "point of interconnect" where the ISPs all connect to the network.

At that point, the ISPs take the VoIP data and run it into some sort of carrier-level gear that talks whatever VoIP protocol the NBN is using.

That said, I can see why Telstra is doing this though, they dont want to have to maintain both copper PSTN gear AND NBN Fiber VoIP gear in a given area if they can avoid doing so and want to hold off buying and installing the Fiber gear for as long as possible (i.e. only doing it when they need to service an area with no copper or where the copper has been decommissioned)

Personally I would like to see other ISPs like Optus, iiNet and TPG run a marketing campaign specifically aimed at showing how they are just as good as Telstra without the huge price tag.

Re:Really a big deal? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170199)

Actually it's better then that - the fiber-equipment boxes can also emulate an ADSL2 line apparently.

DEPRECATED not depreciated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39170089)

For fuck's sake, get your language fucking right.

Why not? (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169493)

Copper means no need for converters/change of instruments at client side AND a single power source. If the exchange has power, the phones work
Fiber needs power at more points

Re:Why not? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170103)


You asked Why Not? Well my simple answer is that it's a service that not everyone desires and not everyone is willing to pay $30 / month for (which is what Telstra charge for copper line rental).

If this is a critical service then LET people pay the $30/month, don't FORCE them to do it. Why should I be forced to pay for something I don't want? Also given the cost of copper line rental I'll take a battery backed phone which needs new expensive batteries ever few years any day over paying the line rental fee. Incidentally this is also the proposed solution. All Network Termination Devices will have a battery backup allowing phones to be operational for a limited time during a power outage.

Also as I pointed out in my other posts the ability for landlines to ride through a blackout is not as critical as it once was. Mobile phones keep working, and they also only need power at the one source, and even if they didn't there's a very large portion of Australian households which have a cordless phone and thus wouldn't be able to use the phone during a blackout anyway as the basestations are invariably 230V powered.

Copper POTS required (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169563)

The important part here is that Telstra REQUIRE you to subscribe to a POTS service (via copper) in order to be able to subscribe to a fibre internet service. There is no 'internet only' option, nor a VoIP option. Most rational ISP's (there are several mentioned in the article) give discounts for bundling, but will still sell you a service without POTS or other voice service.

Please correct me if I'm wrong,..... (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169585)

To my knowledge NBNCo is rolling out their own new fibre system to places which are not currently cabled for fibre. Including the original Tasmanian trial etc.

Telstra has their own fibre network which must be near 10 years old, using their own concentrator (correct term?) and their own modems. This older system is still of course fibre based (well to the street, I don't believe it is to the door)

If I recall, the Govt / NBNCo are trying to take a shortcut on wiring places up by using Telstras existing Bigpond infrastructure in locations they've already cabled up with fibre. I can only wildly speculate here but I'm pretty sure it's fibre to the street, not to the house. There would be significantly less fibre laid then 'proper' NBN installs.

So, seeing as the fibre doesn't come all the way to the house, they can't use the standard NBNCo equipment. [] (4.5mb)

So basically I'm guessing anyone put on the "Telstra version" of the NBN is basically just getting Telstra Bigpond cable, at new NBN prices and I (guess?) with all the speed caps removed for the modems.
I'm also going to guess, for the sake of saving even more money, rather than issue a mini UPS / replacement modem with VOIP built in (basically what NBN customers get) Telstra can't be bothered replacing this equipment and that explains the rule to stick with copper (likely free / subsidised) once the deal is agreed to.
I mean logically there's no reason "Telstra Fibre" (cable) customers couldn't just use a new, standardised piece of equipment which offers full VOIP, Battery backup and a highish quality modem which delivers decent (although sub fibre) speeds

This information is absoloute speculation but something along the lines of what I think is going on, if this is not the case and someone has a better clue (very likely) let me know where I went wrong. Regardless, I suspect money is the culprit behind this one and saving a hell of a lot of digging up places.

Re:Please correct me if I'm wrong,..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169647)

I think they settled on $11 Billion, to use existing Telstra infrastructure, and Telstra dragged their feet agreeing to that...
This bundling plan is more to do with the conduits running past every house, that Telstra is supposed to make available for the NBN Rollout...

If they have 'contracts' with customers (I am also guessing that most of these Testra NBN contracts will be 24 month duration), and they have to provide copper as part of it, then they cant empty the conduit for NBN use.. So sorry.

Re:Please correct me if I'm wrong,..... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169971)

All of the Telstra infrastructure (including the HFC network and the copper network) is to be decommissioned as part of the NBN roll-out. So no, the government isn't taking a short cut here.

There IS a plan by the federal opposition to scrap the NBN and build a cheaper alternative using existing infrastructure (including both the Telstra and Optus HFC networks) but that wont happen unless the opposition wins the next election.

What the $11 billion being paid to Telstra by NBNco is buying is the abillity to put NBN gear in Telstra premises and NBN fiber in Telstra ducts and cable runs and stuff.

Some bits are even older than copper (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169603)

The Telstra wires are lead with paper insulation in my pit, and it's only a 30 minute walk to the centre of a state capital.
Because Telstra have a monopoly on some segments and close to a monopoly on others they can mazimise profit by doing as little as possible. They are an evil beast that screws over the customer the way that only a former government body that has picked only the worst aspects of private enterprise can do.

Re:Some bits are even older than copper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39170037)

Vietnam food with the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective to reach a fine taste, Vietnam food can be considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide. Please come to Vietnam and you can enjoy many kind of traditional food such as special noodle soup (pho), spring rolls, grilled shrimp paste, grilled minced fish, etc

you FaiL It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169615)

the project to on 8y Pentium Pro

Nothing new for Telstra (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169625)

Telstra have a history of offering wholesale products at greater than retail pricing. They've enjoyed a monopoly position for so long they've forgotten how to compete.

The sad part is the number of customers they somehow manage to keep. I have no idea why there are so many stupid people out there. I think it's probably because they spend a lot of money on marketing.

Re:Nothing new for Telstra (1)

Teeroy32 (2512400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169731)

Well I'm one of those people who you think is stupid, but I do live in a rural area so the service from every one else is dismal. On the internet front I could get more downloads from another company but the few I tried ripped me of by saying I was on a cap but charging me standard rates on top of the cap (AAPT) and if I move to another house they treat as breaking the contract and charge me extra (westnet), and the bloody mobiles, telstra works every where with a next g phone, and good reception on digital out of town, I had a vodaphone, virgin and Crazy johns and their signal would die as soon as leave a town. Plus because my bills a paid on time they give me discounts, happy to add and change a plan for me, the service from them has been awesome, especially when I was a bit younger and some times struggled to pay bills I could ring them and other to pay it of in instalments, unfortunately AAPT wouldn't give us the same option, even though I couldn't pay it because it was too high because of there fuck up. The idea of keeping the copper lines is a brilliant one, especially in the country where we have quite a few power failures and the phones just keep working wich is an absolute releif when I have small children, I pay more but moneys no substitute for service and reliability IMHO.

Re:Nothing new for Telstra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39170537)

You must be very lucky because I have had no end to troubles with Telstra and their network. Black spots in their mobile network in the middle of the second largest city in NSW, ADSL that goes down at the blink of a eye, tech support who can barely speak English (I have no issues with foreign call centres as long as they speak well enough to understand over the average telephone).

They are running on their image as Australia's premier telecommunications network but reducing the quality of the services as much as they can to make more money. It is only a matter of time before people realise that the other telecommunication companies are better...

Incumbent operator provides poor value for money (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169633)

Newer operators provide competition.

News at 11.

FILM at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39170315)

Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169651)

This is a fucking joke Telstra. The whole reason for the NBN is to get rid of copper, not run it along side it. Get your services working with the ONT, we know you can do it since you run the same hardware on the Velocity/Smart communities networks and customers ONT.

If this is not done, people will go to other providers who can and are already doing it and your poor shareholders will ask why this decision was made when there is less profit made.


Battery packs are the issue (1)

dackroyd (468778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169657)

Basically in the first areas where the NBN has been deployed the biggest complaint from the customers was about the need to have battery packs inside their homes and the fact they will need to be replaced periodically.,nbn-users-complain-about-battery-backup.aspx []

Although some people or businesses may need to have working POTS during a black out I'm not convinced that it is appropriate to have it in all premises, particularly in a country like Australia where everyone has a mobile phone anyway.

However it is currently a requirement for the NBN installation that the phones work during powercuts. Stopping the mass installation of batteries and instead requiring people to keep their copper lines until either a better plan or smarter requirements can be implemented seems quite sensible to me.

TFA may have a point about prices - but no one is forced to choose Telstra. I'll be sticking with iinet and getting twice the data allocation and about six times the speed that I'm currently getting on ADSL.

Re:Battery packs are the issue (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169727)

You must live in one of the major coastal cities. I live in a little place called Canberra, I can't even get reliable mobile reception from my house in the outer suburbs. Large areas of Australia still have extremely patchy or non existant mobile coverage outside the major capitals, many of those areas are also being covered by the NBN.

"Nothing New Ever Works" Weinstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169701)

(Quote from W's "Secrets of Consulting")

If you have a Plan A (fiber),
. Have a Plan B (copper).

But - really, Telstra - make the bloody copper link FREE.

IMO, the -reason- Telstra's share price has hovered around Au$ 3.00 for years... is because people too often choose Telstra by "force" not because they love Telstra... Telsta is - once again - playing the monopolistic "heavy" even in 2012.
Testra is NOT "too big" to fail. May it fail -sooner- rather than later,
thereby making way for smaller., more flexible / creative mini-telcos
replace it.

Much cheaper (1)

Casandro (751346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169745)

The technology to run telephony over fibre is extremely expensive. It's much cheaper to just run Ethernet for the Internet and leave telephony on ISDN.

Yes, one could do VoIP, but that's just *juck*. Not only will you have huge delays, modems won't work (still essentialy for many businesses), but it still requires seperate networks with complex configurations so it'll still work when you use the Internet.

(Don't get me wrong, there are situations where VoIP has its uses, but it's certainly no alternative to plain old ISDN)

oh the irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169759)

the big deal about this, and the reason for such irony, is that Telstra, as part of the NBN deal, was excempted from an old law that forced it to provide a copper line for every house. Now i'm unsure of the exact specifics of the law but the practical result is that every new house built for the past 30 odd years required a line and it was at telstra's expense in most cases (approx $2000 each).

What is really happening here is that telstra has a national copper network thats now become irrelevant. Much like how most ISP's required you to have an "active" line rented before allowing you to get DSL on top, Telstra will force clients to have a copper line to qualify for fiber. And further more in a few years, just like with the invention of "Naked DSL" (DSL without a rented line), Telstra (and others who follow telstra down this path) will invent something along the lines of "Naked Fiber".

On a side note, there was, and still is, a decent chance that telstra will dig up part of its copper network and onsell the copper metal raw material. Copper has roughly trippled in price over the past few years so the economics are being reviewed.

Beware the Abott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169763)

The opposition leader wants to tear out the NBN, and reinvest the money in more roads for Western Sydney.

Re:Beware the Abott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169821)

The opposition leader is Australia's equivalent to Santorum.
'nuff said.

Phrasing (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169869)

"Copper telephone" means a telephone made out of copper. "Copper telephone lines" is what the headline of course meant. I came here thinking the story would actually be interesting--why in the world would a company want customers to use copper telephones? Why a company might want customers to use copper telephone lines is pretty obvious: you can charge more for two services than for one. Nothing interesting to see here (though I hope for Australian's sake the situation changes); move along.

Get in the game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169891)

Poor Old Telstra - It just doesn't get it.

We are talking 19th Century technology here - and Telstra prefers this over fibre for phone calls? Please - get in the game.

How is running Telstra? Who thought this was a good idea?

Eh, whut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39169931)

Progress is happening rapidly in Australia, with the country's government continuing to roll out a nation-wide fibre network

No it's not. It's happening at a snail's pace you doofus.

... more bandwidth for internet/torrenting? (1)

ardiri (245358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169955)

... why should they allow phone calls to congest the bandwidth for all those torrents and downloads?
if the copper wires are still there and function without any problem, why remove them? classic saying "don't touch what aint broke"

And nobody cares (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39169997)

The copper's in place and it's voice-grade communication we're talking about here. Oh and why is anything a population half the size of California does even /.-worthy?

We get to pay twice (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170079)

The answer is more likely quite simple, Telstra are profit whores. Imagine being able to sell your customers expensive FTTH yet still charge them $30/month rental fee for a copper landline that they may or may not be using. The fact is that Naked DSL has been cutting into their landline profits. On top of that when the ACCC forced them to open up the copper lines to competition that has further eroded their cost structure when you can now get fully unlimited internet and telephone line rental for $60 from a competitor rather than paying $50 to the competitor and still $30 to Telstra for line rental.

Interesting the number of people who point our the power issues being the critical deciding factor here, as if Telstra somehow mandates that an entire country should have phones working during a blackout. These days that doesn't even work anymore. Setting aside the people who have Naked DSL and use VoIP for their home phone, or the people who don't have a home phone at all simply instead using their mobiles, there are a really large portion of people who have a landline with a cordless phone attached to it. Guess what happens to the cordless basestation during the blackout?

If you want to ensure quality of service give people the option. I'd be happier if they dedicated their efforts to ensuring the backup powersupply at the local mobile tower was up to the task rather than offering me a fibre phone with a battery backup. But then again if someone actually desperately NEEDs the ability for a landline to ride through a power outage, why not simply fork out the $100 every 5 years or so for a decent battery?

not telstra's fault (1)

jampola (1994582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170189)

The ACA probably still has requirements for a fixed copper line to be present at every household to ensure people can dial 000(emergency) - especially since fibre has not been tested enough in various situations like floods, fires, storms etc. This makes perfect sense to me.

Wow (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39170369)

I'd like to say screw them, get fiber + cell phone and tell their landline to suck it but from the article you can't, you get a copper line no matter what. Personally I think cell phones are underrated. Cell phone towers have huge battery backups and beyond that usually generators like COs, if they go down in a storm they have portable towers too. My cell phone probably has a good charge already. I can pilfer some off my laptop, there's emergency chargers and if need be I can plug that into an UPS or generator for power. Plus I can charge it where there is power and bring it where there is not. And all towers from all providers in range will route our version of 911 calls unless they're all down.

Here in Norway about a third of all landlines have disappeared the last decade and the trend is still strong downwards. People simply aren't interested in maintaining and paying for a copper based network simply to be a backup. Give me fiber, give me cell phones, put the rest into giving the power grid redundancy because it sucks when nothing but the phone works. Deploy a satellite phone and generator in each population center for when both power and phones go down to use in real emergencies, it's the only thing that's really guaranteed to work if the local infrastructure is toast. In such cases a lot of the time the answer will be that they can't reach you so you're on your own anyway.

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