VDSL2 in basements and carrier powers

In Australia companies that sell telecommunications services are called Carriage Service Providers. They don’t have to hold a “carrier license” to sell services.

A carriage service provider that wants to own cables or run radio links must hold a carrier license in Australia. This costs money and comes with compliance overheads. In exchange the government gives carriers certain rights, particularly “land access” which means the carrier can install cables on crown land like footpaths and even on private property like farms, basements and even your back yard.

These access rights are limited. For instance building owners own the cables in the risers in buildings unless they were installed by a specific carrier who has labelled them as their private property. The right is specific to servicing a customer so you can’t demand to install your cable on the off chance of landing a customer later. Finally, the carrier doesn’t have a right to have power delivered to active equipment. The access powers were designed in an earlier era of copper cables.

Of course carriers have been able to strike access agreements with building owners to provide access to power and building cables.

Where all of this gets interesting is when a carrier like NBNCo or TPG wants access to a basement. They are entitled to serve notice that they need to install cable to service one or more customers. The building owner has limited rights to refuse access but isn’t obliged to provide access to power or in-building cabling.

So when a carrier comes and demands access to your building and the terms of their access agreement state no other carrier is entitled to “interfere” with their services when they use your building cables and that you are obliged to provide them with electricity think carefully before signing the agreement. The TIO arbitrates land access disputes so you might like to call them if you think you’re being treated unfairly. You must allow licensed carriers to access their customers in your building but they must pay for power if they need it and they can’t demand exclusive access to your riser cables. They can install new cables in the riser at their expense.

Of course the whole issue of in-building interference is mostly a reason to insist on access monopoly. The real reduction in speed over sub 200 metre loops inside buildings is negligible, from 100Mb to perhaps 90Mb but that isn’t the narrative most people want to hear. That avoiding this reduction in potential maximum speed comes at a premium cost of say $200 per year of lost competition won’t dawn on them until they get the bill.

Don’t believe me? Go read Ericsson’s document, page 9.

Click to access Vector_globecom2009_final_v2.pdf

The image at the top of the post is from that page and shows performance of VDSL2 over 0.5mm copper loops commonly found in riser cables.

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