NetComm Wireless CTO Steve Collins explains the real-world path to Gigabit in an interview with Paul Miskimmon (PM). Steve will share further insights in his keynote presentation at Gigabit Access 2017 in Brussels on 5th April, 2017.
PM: What is your view on the journey to Gigabit?
Steve Collins: Everyone is talking about getting to Gigabit. The reality is that across all the different technologies – coax, fibre, copper and wireless – Gigabit will be reached at very different times. Our view is that we need to get to Gigabit, but in the meantime, make the most of the investments and the infrastructure that you already have in place. We see our job at NetComm Wireless is to innovate solutions to allow operators to deliver a consistent service across all technology types in a reasonable and cost-effective way, while allowing an upgrade path to Gigabit.
PM: NetComm Wireless is providing Fixed Wireless and Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp) equipment to nbn for Australia’s National Broadband Network. What regulatory pressure is being put on operators?
Steve: In Australia, there is a Government initiative to get high-speed broadband to every home and business nationwide – and nbn was created to build and operate the new nbn™ national broadband network. Because of that, regulation is being introduced to ensure that broadband services are delivered in a sensible, equal and fair way.
This is a sign of the future – and it is the way that many countries are headed as governments start to treat broadband as a service.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is starting to put the onus on Internet Service Providers (ISP) to put in place an open performance metric system, and provide accurate speed numbers to customers. Speed claims must be based on the real speed and performance that customers can expect; and the service that you promote as a service provider must have the capacity to be remotely diagnosed and managed.
The days of delivering a best effort scenario and promoting theoretic peak speeds are gone in Australia. You must be able to say “this is the actual speed that you will get, and here are the systems that we have in place to deliver those speeds”.
PM: What steps can be taken to extend network ownership and meet customer expectations?
Steve: NetComm Wireless’ view of the world is very different. We engineer equipment that extends the “trusted zone” by working with the operator to develop edge network devices that are considered part of the network infrastructure - but it’s right on the edge to give the network operator the opportunity to own, measure and look after the service all the way to the consumer.
Unlike traditional CPE, our equipment is often installed by the operator and forms a part of the network infrastructure with features such as high-grade network diagnostics, prioritisation of traffic, Quality of Service, software features that bind it into the operator’s back-end system and a certain level of uptime and longevity in harsh environments that are subject to the elements.
NetComm Wireless allows you to extend your trusted zone as close to the customer as possible.
PM: When should you consider purpose engineered technology over off-the-shelf options?
Steve: You can’t buy an off-the-shelf piece of equipment that integrates into the network. NetComm Wireless uses core technology building blocks such as VDSL2, Gfast, GPON, DOCSIS 3.0 and LTE 4.5G, moving to 5G – and we build them into a variety of form factors tailored to fit specific installation scenarios. Every operator has its own physical and software requirements – and we tailor the end device to match various use cases.
PM: How will Gigabit services be delivered in a Broadband-as-a-Service world?
Steve: You need to take ownership of the delivery of broadband all the way to the customer’s premises – and get as close as possible so you can differentiate your service. It’s very different to the way that broadband services have traditionally been delivered – where you’ve got a node, a base station and then the rest is up to chance.
The time has come to move your architecture all the way to the customer’s premises, and then you get a known performance level that you can trust and promote as a point of difference over the competition.
Gigabit performance is where we are headed – but very high speed broadband, and I’m talking 100Mbps and above, can be delivered as a known service today, using your existing investments.
Gigabit is not going to be provided by one service on its own. There will be a combination of services – Fixed Wireless will serve some parts of the country, other areas will receive VDSL, Gfast or Fibre.
In the end, you need to deliver Broadband-as-a-Service that delivers certainty in broadband performance outside of the test lab.
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ABOUT NETCOMM WIRELESS
NetComm Wireless Limited (ASX: NTC) is a leading developer of Fixed Wireless broadband, wireless M2M/Industrial IoT and Fibre and Cable to the distribution point (FTTdp / CTTdp) technologies that underpin an increasingly connected world. Our Listen. Innovate. Solve. methodology supports the unique requirements of leading telecommunications carriers, core network providers, system integrators, government and enterprise customers worldwide. For over 35 years, NetComm Wireless has engineered new generations of world first data communication products and is now a globally recognised communications technology innovator. Headquartered in Sydney (Australia), NetComm Wireless has offices in the US, Europe/UK, New Zealand and Japan. Visit: www.netcommwireless.com.