Forget about VDSL2 and go FTTP: Vector

CEO says even the fastest copper technology is outdated

Copper has run its course and should now be decommissioned in favour of fibre-optic says Vector, and warns that delays in delivering fast broadband to everyone will see New Zealand fall further behind its trading partners. Vector’s view is that fibre to the premises is the only option to deliver the targets set by the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband programme. Referring to OECD economist and telecommunications specialist Dr Taylor Reynolds speech in Wellington in April this year, Mackenzie says “no-one’s talking about rolling out VDSL2 anymore.” “Advanced countries like Japan and Korea are abandoning VDSL2 according to the OECD,” Mackenzie says. Japan and Korea have the most VDSL2 subscribers in the world. Copper is legacy infrastructure, Mackenzie says, and says it’d be “a hard sell to ask anyone to invest in it”. Telecom offering to de-merge or split off Chorus as an independent unit in the hope of taking part in the UFB won’t change this fact, Mackenzie says. As for overbuilding Telecom’s copper network, Mackenzie doesn’t see it as a problem. “Telecom did just that when they overbuilt their own CDMA network with XT – why would a fibre network be any different?” he says. Telecom Wholesale is presently preparing to further trial VDSL2 service with customers. It will be from exchanges and from its fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) roadside cabinets that are being deployed around the country, with the aim to eventually provide a premium, high-throughput broadband product. An earlier, VDSL2 pilot showed promising results, according to Telecom Wholesale’s head of broadband Tim Pegler. Customers on the pilot have been achieving 50-60Mbit/s downloads and 10-15Mbit/s uploads. In comparison, the government’s UFB programme aims to provide 100Mbit/s downloads and 50Mbit/s uploads with the bandwidth being dedicated and not shared with hundreds of users as it is on DSL. Vector is pushing its open access fibred-up vision of the future hard at the moment, with Mackenzie saying fast broadband is “absolutely fundamentally critical for New Zealand as destination to live and to establish businesses in.” Building a fibre network is also a perfect fit for Vector, which is in the business of providing infrastructure assets says Mackenzie. According to Mackenzie, an investment in fast broadband needs to be looked at from a broader societal perspective, as it confers many benefits and savings in areas such as transport, education and health. The OECD says “spill-over effect” is estimated to provide 0.5 to 1.5 per cent savings on government expenditure. That alone is enough to pay for the investment required to build a point-to-point national FTTH network, Mackenzie says. New Zealand politicians understand this, Mackenzie says, and describes Prime Minister John Key and Communications Minister Steven Joyce as “the two greatest broadband evangelists in the country.”

Copper has run its course and should now be decommissioned in favour of fibre-optic, says Vector.

The fibre provider warns that delays in delivering fast broadband to everyone will see New Zealand fall further behind its trading partners.

Vector’s view is that fibre to the premises is the only option to deliver the targets set by the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband programme. Referring to OECD economist and telecommunications specialist Dr Taylor Reynolds’ speech in Wellington in April this year, Vector CEO Simon Mackenzie says “no-one’s talking about rolling out VDSL2 anymore.

“Advanced countries like Japan and Korea are abandoning VDSL2 according to the OECD,” he says. Japan and South Korea have the most VDSL2 subscribers in the world.

Copper is legacy infrastructure and Mackenzie says it’d be “a hard sell to ask anyone to invest in it”. Telecom offering to de-merge or split off Chorus as an independent unit in the hope of taking part in the UFB won’t change this fact, he says.

As for overbuilding Telecom’s copper network, Mackenzie doesn’t see it as a problem. “Telecom did just that when they overbuilt their own CDMA network with XT — why would a fibre network be any different?” he says.

Telecom Wholesale is preparing to further trial VDSL2 service with customers. It will be from exchanges and from its fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) roadside cabinets that are being deployed around the country, with the aim of eventually providing a premium, high-throughput broadband product.

An earlier VDSL2 pilot showed promising results, according to Telecom Wholesale’s head of broadband, Tim Pegler. Customers on the pilot have been achieving 50-60Mbit/s downloads and 10-15Mbit/s uploads.

In comparison, the government’s UFB programme aims to provide 100Mbit/s downloads and 50Mbit/s uploads with the bandwidth being dedicated and not shared with hundreds of users as it is on DSL.

Building a fibre network is a perfect fit for Vector, which is in the business of providing infrastructure assets, says Mackenzie.

According to Mackenzie, an investment in fast broadband needs to be looked at from a broader societal perspective, as it confers many benefits and savings in areas such as transport, education and health.

The OECD says “spill-over effect” is estimated to provide 0.5 to 1.5 per cent savings on government expenditure.

That alone is enough to pay for the investment required to build a point-to-point national FTTH network, Mackenzie says.

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