A CIO's Guide to the NBN

A CIO's Guide to the NBN

Australia's $43 billion National Broadband Network will usher in a new era of connectivity and business innovation. Here’s what CIOs need to know. . .

Tampling’s big tip for Australian CIOs is to study closely what happened in the UK when the British Government split the wholesale and retail divisions of BT and created Openreach, a new independent, wholesale company. Tampling says it is a fine case study of what happens when a new network is created under a new regulatory regime. “You might also want to Google ‘Project Canvas’,” Tampling adds, referring to the BBC project to create an on-demand service for television sets via Internet-connected set-top boxes.

How the NBN will inspire new IT transformation projects

Bhatia, Simon and Yuile all agree the NBN will inspire a cornucopia of new business applications, services and models, some of which are still to be imagined.

A list of their most likely would include virtual, multi-media contact centres; telepresence -- state-of-the-art video-conferencing that produces full-size, life-like picture quality; e-health that will connect doctors and patients thousands of kilometres apart; smart metering of homes by water, gas and electricity utilities; movies and television programs via IP (Internet Protocol) TV; video-phones to become commonplace; and Internet-based learning that is more widespread in schools, universities and the workplace.

As Finland becomes the first country in the world to make broadband Internet access a legal right -- rushing through legislation that will force telcos to offer speeds of at least 1 megabit per second to 5.3 million people -- workmen are digging trenches in Tasmania to lay the first fibre optic cable for Australia’s NBN. By next June, three pilot towns -- Scottsdale (pop 1904), Smithton (pop 3361) and Midway Point (pop 2589) -- should be enjoying connections speeds of 100 megabits per second.

Telecommunications could be the most boring business in the world if it didn’t affect everyone and wasn’t vital to the future of national economies everywhere. This instead makes it one of the most dynamic.

But as any telecommunications engineer will tell you, fibre optic technology is to networks what asphalt is to roads -- even at German autobahn speeds. The magic of fibre optics at 100 Mbps comes in what we do with it.

SIDEBAR: NBN: the facts

  1. The NBN will connect 90 per cent of all Australian homes, schools and workplaces to broadband services with speeds up to 100 megabits per second.

  2. It will connect all other premises in Australia with next generation wireless and satellite technologies with speeds of 12 megabits per second.

  3. The new superfast network will comprise optical fibre to the premises (FTTP), extending to towns with a population of about 1000 or more.

  4. It will be Australia’s first national wholesale-only, open access broadband network.

  5. It will be built and operated on a commercial basis by a company established at arm’s length from the Federal Government.

  6. It will be rolled-out, simultaneously, in metropolitan, regional and rural areas -- and completed in 2017.

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