Home ISPs Set To Be Hurt By New Broadband Network

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Internet service providers are likely to play a lowlier role in Australian homes as the National Broadband Network spreads across the nation, networking equipment maker Ericsson has predicted.

Ericsson briefed Australian media on its outlook for NBN technology directions in Sydney yesterday, and will brief analysts at a separate session today.

Vice president Tony Malligeorgos said one of the most likely models to be adopted by the new NBNCo in Australia was an “independent” model, in which ISPs simply provide Internet access, while providers of services like smartgrids, healthcare, home security, VoIP and movie downloading would have their own direct access to the NBN, bypassing ISPs.

An alternative “hybrid” model would see some staying independent while others,­ perhaps movie services and VoIP operators,­ would continue to work through ISPs.

Ericsson maintains that a well-designed fibre-to-the-home network will incorporate both point-to-point and PON (passive optical network, or point-to-multipoint) options as wholesale open access bitstream services. Retail gigabit point-to-point services would be offered to corporate customers like banks, and PON services to residential and small business customers.

It predicts single households may have multiple POTs and VoIP telephony providers, and all video services, including free-to-air TV, pay-TV sports channels, video-on-demand and Internet video apps like YouTube are likely to be provided via IPTV. There would be no need for traditional RF video which Ericsson maintains does not support end-user choices.

A services interface would be built in, eliminating need for a set-top box, said Colin Goodwin, Ericsson Australia’s broadband strategy manager. “If we build the network the right way, there’s end-user choice. If we build the old way, there’s less choice,” he said.

The current copper PSTN ­ and very likely the HFC pay-TV cable networks ­ would “die out” over the next 10 years.

Ericsson is predicting a bright future for its LTE (long-term evolution, or 4G) wireless technology as an alternative access technology, along with satellite, in the 10 percent of premises not served by NBN fibre.

It predicts 150Mbps download peak speeds for basic LTE, 200-600Mbps for LTE+ from 2011, and 1Gbps, using carrier aggregation, for LTE Advanced in the 2013-15 timeframe.

A timeline chart shows HSPSA (3G) technology currently used in Australia hitting 42Mbps­ twice the current maximum- later this year, and expanding to 84-168Mbps in 2010-11. ­

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