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How to Get Your FttH Connection Inside Your House

The Optical Network Terminal (ONT) is the piece of equipment at the end of the Fiber to the Home (FttH) network; the connection to the premises. From here the various services can be delivered to the end-users.

In Australia the FttH infrastructure company NBN Co is in favour of having the ONT on the outside of the premises, as that would be the cheapest option and would also allow for easier maintenance.

Only in multi-dwelling buildings the ONT will most probably be installed within each unit.

One of the more problematic issues here is how one goes about bringing electric power to the ONT. An interesting solution could include cooperation with the electricity company, which could arrange that and at the same time use it for its smart meter rollout.

But this might be the easiest problem to solve.

Providing access from the outside ONT to the interior of a dwelling represents a more serious problem. First of all there are the technical issues such as drilling through walls, but also issues relating to how one goes about powering and grounding the terminal equipment Recently this has become somewhat simplified, through the use of one of several IEEE Power over Ethernet (PoE) standards, assuming the provider and its vendor both support it.

But also this is still reasonably simple to resolve.

The real issue is who is going to do the job? Will it be DIY house-owners, regulated installers, the first telco to arrive on the scene, the utility to install a smart meter or the healthcare organisation that has a patient to monitor—or perhaps the council needs to be involved?

If this is not carefully thought through it could amount to opening a Pandora’s box. There are legal issues, safety issues, security issues and, perhaps most importantly, financial issues.

The NBN is a national government infrastructure project and people will expect to be able to use that service. If it is placed outside the building for many people it might just as well have been installed in the next city—it is not going to provide access. There is no doubt that some users will be happy to pay for this; however most people will have major issues with it.

On the supply side, once the connection is inside it will be much easier for providers to offer their services. So will the first one to offer a service have to pay the total cost of bringing the connection inside? Again I can foresee many disputes.

People are beginning to understand the utility function of broadband. When one starts looking at how other access to such services is managed it quickly becomes evident that many solutions, in one way or another, involve a regulated connection charge, a council rate, a government tax or combinations of these.

These might be unpopular political issues to discuss but once you start moving in this direction these are the consequences and they need to be addressed upfront. If NBN Co has its way and the ONT is placed outside premises then the government will have to formulate a policy on how that connection gets inside the dwellings.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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