Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

March 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda
1 Comment

A memorable March

This month was very extraordinary as I celebrated the birth of my first child, a baby boy.

They say child birth is a life-changing experience and they are not wrong. It’s one of those things that you only understand the gravity of once you’ve experienced it for yourself.

With a new baby you immediately realise how insignificant everything else in life is.

There are quite a few sleepless nights, but, hey, sleep is overrated, right?


When life is getting you down, just put your fingers in your ears.

January 30, 2014
by Rodney Gedda

New smartphone options for local telcos

These days you can buy a smartphone from almost anywhere, from a mobile carrier to a grocery store. This month we put out an announcement on how this trend might impact telcos. Now, the telcos may turn around and say “that’s good, we don’t want to be smartphone retailers anyway” as their core business is mobile services, not handset sales. The problem is they risk loosing their advantage of being a trusted advisor for valued-added mobile services as well, particularly in the business space.

The smartphone market has rapidly solidified around the two big incumbent platforms, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. BlackBerry and Microsoft are holding their own, but the new range of smartphone operating systems:

  • FirefoxOS
  • Ubuntu
  • SailfishOS
  • Tizen

may also help carrier differentiation, in addition to consumer choice. There are already handsets available running each of those and 2014 is looking like a big device launch year for Ubuntu and Tizen.

Telstra has already signaled its intention to evaluate FirefoxOS as an alternative smartphone platform. It will be interesting to see if all three mobile carriers come through with a alternatives to the incumbents. The reward could mean more than just handset sales if they provide a path to more value-added services.

December 31, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

2013 is over, best wishes for 2014

With 2013 behind us all the best for 2014. I hope 2014 is a good one for you.

I’ve seen so many 2013 year in review articles over the past week, the journos are really link baiting, big time.

It’s difficult to pick a highlight of 2013, but may as well take a stab at it:

In 2013 the church labeled capitalism an hierarchical, inequitable, exploitative, unjust, immoral and evil organisation… Takes one to know one.

You heard it here first ladies and gentlemen, now go and spread it via any social channel you can get your hands on.

Happy New Year!

November 30, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

What to do when the NBN comes to town: Connection day

nbn_fibre_splitWith the CPE boxes installed and the fibre tail dug into your house, the third, and final, NBN contractor appointment brings the two ends together.

The fibre tail is connected to the internal cable at the external ONT unit. The technician will then “make a phone call” to test the connection and do a fibre signal quality test.

When the work is done (about 15-30 minutes) the internal ONT will display a green light for the active fibre connection.

With all the physical networking complete, it’s then just a matter of getting the authentication details from your RSP and connecting to your newly provisioned fibre service. I did hear conflicting reports that this can take from one to 48 hours so your mileage may vary. In my case I contacted my RSP and within a couple of ours I had my authentication details.

Actually conneting to an NBN service is much the same as DSL. Simply plug in your wireless router with the Ethernet WAN port to a UNIV-D port on the ONT, put in your auth details and connect with PPPoE. Your IPv4 and DNS settings will be obtained by the router.

On a side note, the default login and password for my new wireless router was “admin/admin” so little wonder I went ahead and changed it.

Preliminary testing

What do you do when you’ve got NBN connected? Notice the speed difference of course!

As part of this whole experiment I opted for an entry level NBN plan of 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up (12Mbps/1Mbps). The DSL service I have is the theoretical maximum of 24Mbps/buggerallMbps and I’m not that far from my exchange (about 1Km as the crow flies).


12Mbps/1Mbps NBN FTTP speed test





24Mbps ADSL speed test




A simple real world test immediately proved that the SLOWEST NBN plan is FASTER than the FASTEST ADSL plan available on the market. Of course, YMMV, but I believe I am not alone by any stretch of the imagination and thousands of people will experience the same outcome when moving from DSL to FTTP – let alone the high-speed fibre plans. This is the “real world” speed problem that FTTP overcomes. All FTTN will do is waste a lot of money reducing this problem and not solve it.

Next, I’ll do some testing of VoIP over the NBN.

What to do when the NBN comes to town blog series:

October 31, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

A week in Darwin

croc_jumpingI was fortunate enough to spend last week in Darwin, a place I’ve always wanted to go to but never had the chance. It was great. We went bushwalking and swimming at Litchfield National Park, on an Adelaide River crocodile tour, on a dinner cruise, fishing of Darwin harbour, and toured the city shops and markets.
Darwin is very different to the other capitals and has quite a special character of its own. The weather is quite hot and changeable, but it’s certainly not an uncomfortable place to be in October, the cusp of the dry and wet seasons.

Did you know? Darwin is home to one of three enclosed coral reefs in the world. Its owner runs the aquatic centre on the waterfront filled with educational marterial about Australia’s sea life.

I think Darwin is more strategic a city than it’s given credit for. It’s really geared as a tourist town (with prices to reflect that), but could easily be Australia’s gateway to Asia and the world. A northern pearl in the sourthern hemisphere.

I hope to return sometime soon.


September 29, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

What to do when the NBN comes to town: ONT time

nbn_outside_box_installAfter waiting some time expecting to be notified of fibre availability in my area, and with the election nigh, I went ahead and selected an RSP (ISP) for a FTTH service. The installation date was booked, text messages were sent confirming the time and the optical network termination (ONT) units were installed without a hitch. The fibre connection, however, still needs to be dug in.

Having watched the fibre roll out with zeal, I was surprised the notice of availability didn’t appear in my letterbox sooner. It eventually did a few weeks after I had kicked off the FTTH provisioning request.

In any event, I certainly didn’t want to leave it until after the election. I put a request in with my new RSP and it was able to approve the new service as it already had access to NBN’s availability status in the suburb. If you are in an early release area and wondering if you can get a residential fibre connection my advice is to go straight to an RSP.

Anyway, back to the installation.

Everything went on time and according to plan. There are a total of three boxes that need to be installed.

  • The external ONT
  • The internal battery backup box
  • The internal voice and data switch

nbn_internal_ntuIf you need the internal boxes installed on a wall not adjacent to the external box like me, just ask the installers where you want it and they should be able to do it depending on level of access they have to the wall.

All up it will take an hour or two to complete the installation. When the fibre tail is dug in and connected to the external ONT, you don’t need to be home for this. So far I have not been give any indication of when this might happen only that there is a backlog of 170-odd premises in the area waiting to be connected. This translates to a few weeks wait time. Not long until the fast fibre flicks on.

My opinion is the move to FTTP and FTTN (where appropriate) should have happened progressively over the past 15 years. But I’ll save that for another blog.

What to do when the NBN comes to town blog series:

August 30, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

What to do when NBN comes to town: fibre fandango

nbn_sign_over_pitA few weeks after the pits have been upgraded in your area the product at the centre of the whole national broadband network debate – fibre optic cabling – will be installed. And it’s about time we were given the option of switching on the fibre fantastic.

The aggregate fibre optic cabling is an unmistakeable bright green colour and is fed through the new and existing telecommunications ducts and pits. The main fibre lines are controlled at fibre distribution hub (FDH) boxes.

Speaking with one of the contractors, these unassuming white boxes are capable of controlling fibre distribution across an entire suburb, a far cry from fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) which promises large cabinets on every block.

Once the aggregate fibre cable is installed, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) lines are “split” and connected to the building.

I have already ordered a basic fibre service from an NBN Co retail service provider (RSP), but more about that in the next post.

For now, keep an eye out for the bright green cable.

What to do when the NBN comes to town blog series:

July 29, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

What to do when NBN comes to town: RSP redux

Telstra marketers think the NBN presents an amazing opportunity

Telstra marketers think the NBN presents an amazing opportunity

When was the last time you received some internet service provider advertising material in your letterbox? AOL CDs anyone? When the NBN comes to town you can expect to receive promotional letters spruiking the arrival and benefits of fast fibre in your area. The retail service providers – RSPs in NBN Co parlance – are all vying for your business again and the opportunity to churn is clear.

One of the big promises of a national broadband network owned by the government is the open access afforded to private sector ISPs. I won’t bore you with history, but the biggest mistake made by the government during deregulation of the telecommunications market in the nineties was not to separate the infrastructure from the retail providers. Hence we ended up with Australia’s largest wholesaler also being Australia’s largest retailer. Whether more structural separation was possible I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure not a great deal of effort was made to open up access and spur competition.

iiNet is ready for the NBN, apparently

iiNet is ready for the NBN, apparently

The NBN demolishes all this. Any retailer has the same wholesale costs and can thereby compete more on pricing, bundles, support and value-added services. No more excuses from RSP marketing directors, right? In thoery get your name out there are get NBN customers.

Before you can get a FTTP service you will get RSP brochures lobbing into your letterbox. So far I’ve received Telstra and iiNet and someone I know who does have NBN access was wooed in by iPrimus.

It’s kind of like 1999 all over again – it’s cool to be in the internet industry and customer are getting something they have not yet experienced.

With so many RSPs offering what is ostensibly the same service how do you decide which one to go with? The reasons are many and varied, but here are the main ones:

  • Availability (some traditional ISPs don’t offer NBN yet, including mine annoyingly enough)
  • Brand loyalty
  • Cost of access speed (bandwidth)
  • Access shaping speed
  • Cost of data download allowance
  • Customer service and support
  • Value-added services (telephony, etc)

I recommend using the NBN as an opportunity to look at an alternative ISP and excercise some competition. I think I’ll give my existing ISP all of about a month to see what NBN package it can come up with. If nothing surfaces I’m off to the best value plan around in two shapes of a fibre tail.

What to do when the NBN comes to town blog series:

June 30, 2013
by Rodney Gedda

What to do when NBN comes to town: it’s the pits

nbn_worker_roadsignWho would have thought boring telecommunications pits could attract so much media coverage. That’s the PR magic the NBN carries with it as it performs work on thousands on pits around the country.

Pit and trench work began in our suburb a couple of months ago. Since then we’ve seen new pits installed and old ones upgraded by contractors for both NBN Co and Telstra.

This post is timely as there is a lot hysteria about pits containing asbestos and how they are being handled by the contractors at the coalface. Thankfully, most of the pits in our area are either cast iron or PVC polymer. There are a few cement pits that, according to Telstra, might contain asbestos. The problem is not that they contain asbestos, but when they need to be worked on or removed there is the potential for asbestos fibres to be disturbed. Asbestos itself is a stable material, but when it is cut the loose fibres can be breathed in which can lead to cancer. If Telstra commits to removing the older pits in once piece (as opposed to smashing them to pieces) then it should be a safe transition for workers and residents.

All newly installed pits appear to be made from PVC with cement lids.

During the pit upgrade process there will be quite a lot of work done in your area, including digging and concrete cutting. I have overheard people complaining about NBN work, but in my experience it’s really not that disruptive. We even let a contractor park his mini excavator in our driveway for one night so he wouldn’t have to load it back on the truck and unload it again the next morning.

The contractors all seem to be friendly and in good spirits. Feel free to ask them about the progress and what any of the components will be used for.

The new Telstra pits have the unmistakeable Big T logo on them, but you may also find new pits plainly labeled “Communications” by NBN Co.

Once the pits have been upgraded the stage is set for the cable laying. Until next time.

What to do when the NBN comes to town blog series: