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Fixing Ireland’s telecommunications infrastructure mess

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  • 12-04-2019 2:29pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,667 ✭✭✭


    Ireland’s telecommunications regulatory mechanism is failing to address the realities of the ‘new’ telecommunications infrastructure, in an intelligent way.

    Fiber to the premises (ie broadband internet) (FTTP, FTTH etc) is being needlessly duplicated – with at least two separate fiber grids – ie siro.ie and eir.ie. Virgin Media’s coaxial network is a third semi-fat pipe infrastructure. All three operators appear to me to be not very customer oriented. Most European countries, including IRL have electricity generation competition – but only one network which is shared among vendors. Similarly there is only one gas pipeline serving most premises and one water (originally was 'waster', a combo of water in and waste water out) pipe. Duplication and triplication is wasteful, and increases the fixed cost of installation and maintenance.

    5G mobile will, in general rely on much higher air interface frequencies. High frequency radio means a short range. In urban areas, every country will need a 5G cellsite on ‘virtually every lamppost’. One might have 40 to 100 5G cellsites in time, per km2, in urban areas.

    There are currently three mobile phone networks. In general, coverage is patchy, especially in non-urban areas and along railway lines and country roads. The same case can be made for a single 5G cellsite network. It avoids triplication not only in terms of cellsite investment and maintenance costs – but also in planning ugliness, which in turn offers poorer overall coverage of the entire country. A single 5G platform would offer the best overall coverage, at lowest cost.

    Taking the two platforms together, 5G cellsites will require far more backhaul to the network core bandwidth (than legacy cellsites) because of the higher data speeds and volumes of data traffic. The volume of data transported is doubling every few years. If Ireland had a single fiber platform, it could provide FTTP internet/telephone directly to each premises in the state. The same fiber infrastructure could provide backhaul to all / most mobile phone cellsites.

    A single air interface platform of cellsites could be shared among all mobile networks. In effect, their customers would be engaged in national roaming on the single national cellular platform. Existing legacy cellsites could be pooled into the new single 5G infrastructure.

    The total cost of 5G and fiber to the premises infrastructure using a single platform concept would probably work out at about 50% or less (than the cost of 3 competing fiber and three competing cellular air interfaces).

    There is also the issue of Eir’s legacy ‘plain old telephone service’ and ISDN system. The switching fabric is over thirty years old. Andorra has a single fiber to the premises platform, and it has replaced cable TV, competing internet infrastructures and conventional PSTN and ISDN phones. Telecom Andorra has been able to focus on a single fiber platform using SIP instead of old fashioned copper pair phones. Which means one less network to maintain, provide power to etc. Andorran homes that just require a landline are given a fiber box with sockets for telephones to be plugged into. Andorra started this transition over a decade ago, and is now reaping the benefit of rational planning having being well implemented.

    Ireland could save customers a fortune by rationalising the delivery platforms for both fiber and mobile and deliver close to nation-wide coverage for both systems.

    The cost of capital and the return on same is a key issue in terms of the scale and quality of coverage. The existing ramshackle triplication of ‘in the field’ network infrastructure will probably be economic in a few cities – albeit with the added visual and radiation pollution caused by the 5G infrastructure using higher frequencies. It will not be economic to build out three 5G networks on a national basis, with the result that rural areas, railway lines and country roads will be left with no service or patchy service, at best.


Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,015 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    If the tech was static there could be one network and companies could rent usage off whom ever owned it but different companies opt for different tech not to mention it's ever changing. Might there be a case for some all company, state supported entity to carry out works to give access to all so the customer can then decide who they want to go with, maybe just for rural areas where most don't see enough profit in going it alone?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,667 ✭✭✭Impetus


    If the tech was static there could be one network and companies could rent usage off whom ever owned it but different companies opt for different tech not to mention it's ever changing. Might there be a case for some all company, state supported entity to carry out works to give access to all so the customer can then decide who they want to go with, maybe just for rural areas where most don't see enough profit in going it alone?

    The tech is largely standard since GSM days (eg one can take a box from Nokia Networks and connect it with a box from Ericsson or Samsung and they will work together to a common standard. Tech changes and the common standards are updated accordingly). The 'tech' has not stagnated between GSM and 5G - it has just evolved, and most networks have or planned to follow. In IP communications (which today includes mobile, as in VoLTE and regular broadband), I see no problem with a shared platform keeping up to the European/international standards. One of the few world class accomplishments of Europe over the past 30 years or so - ie to create a global standard as in GSM, which provides mobile phone roaming all over the world, and virtually all countries use the same standard, so one's phone works virtually everywhere. Ditto, once one decides on a single fiber platform. It should not require state financial support. I am talking about saving hundreds of millions in CAPEX here as well as annually RECURRING operating expenses. And infrastructurial 'visual management' in cities, towns and rural areas. If the plan is well conceived, should one operator decide to go it their own way, they would be in a very platform expensive position -v- those who joined the common platform. And the refusnic operator would be faced with the full rigours of Irish planning law, which are mighty and destructive of entreprenurial sprit in the extreme. However there is no excuse in the event of a common platform being made available.

    The 'eirgrid' (broadband/mobile phone single network equivalent) could be owned jointly by the 'SIM card issuers' and re-sellers of internet connectivity, TV, security services, IOT etc. The re-seller concept could be extended, as we have apps in mobile phone and PC land. The app concept, where entrepreneurs create their own 'thing' which runs on a standardized platform (eg a mobile phone) has been a mega driver of mobile telephony etc. Whether it is an app, SIM card or TV card that works in a standard CAM (conditional access module) there should be a pathway for the service provider to share their inventions on a common platform to everybody who wants to avail of same. Otherwise we have a monopoly which is illegal under EU law. Especially when it comes to licensed providers where the number of competitors is limited - who might otherwise decide to refuse connectivity to protect their walled garden.

    If Ireland adopted this open fiber and mobile cellsite single network standard, it could become a focal point for developers of this stuff (call it internet of things+++), globally.

    Speaking of 5G cellsites on nearly every electricity pole, I have a secondary house in Ireland, and fiber was installed from pole to pole (by siro.ie) along the road for about nine months. Neither I nor any neighbouring house can use same as of 12.04.2019. What a waste! There is a big sales/marketing disconnect from infrastructure installation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,554 ✭✭✭Charles Babbage


    Whatever about the duplication in urban areas, there is a strong case for putting fibre on the electricity network in outlying areas and dismanting the copper Eircom network in such regions.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,667 ✭✭✭Impetus


    Whatever about the duplication in urban areas, there is a strong case for putting fibre on the electricity network in outlying areas and dismanting the copper Eircom network in such regions.

    One copper line has a weight of about 45kg per km. Copper is worth about EUR 5'000 per tonne. The country has 15 pair Eir cables strung along the countryside from coast to coast. A 200 pair phone cable weights about 2 tonnes per km.

    For every million PSTN/BRA channels (lines) in use, assuming each loop is 3km on average (rural lines are much longer in practice), gives one about 3 million kms of copper, weighing 45kg/km = 135 million tonnes of copper at EUR 5k per tonne (less recycling (ie removing plastic and dismantling cost).

    One could get drowned in zeros, and much has to do with the recovery rate. However it seems to me that the money would pay for everybody in the country to have 10 GB fiber optic internet to the door, capable of carrying 10'000 Mbits/sec internet, several thousand video or tv channels, 32 VoIP landline channels per house, and provide backhaul for 5 and 6 and 7G into the future.

    The duct space released in urban areas could be used for car battery charging among other services - as electricity can run in parallel with fiber optic cables (unlike conventional copper phone cables).

    It looks like a no brainer to me... Xavier Neil would be able to buy that part of Chantilly that he does not already own, and then some! It it any wonder that the Andorran government has been taking down the copper lines.... (it owns Andorra Telecom).


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,667 ✭✭✭Impetus


    Information on the French electricity market and using Frenchgrid for electricity transit

    Europe is the most interconnected region in the world with 600 million electricity consumers and about 4’000 TWh of demand.

    FR has 37 international interconnectors (will be 38+ when Ireland joins the system via Hibernia link)
    10 state frontiers (ie FR <> DE, IT, ES, BE, LU, MC, CH, AD, GB and in due course IE) – might be 8 after Brexit, but back again to 9 in terms of electricity state frontiers when Hibernia HVDC and hopefully others goes into operation.
    14 GW export capacity
    11 GW import capacity
    133 GW domestic French production capacity (550 TWh production total pa) of which wind is 15 GW and 9 GW solar PV. (38% renewable in total, and 48% nuclear in capacity terms).
    Major grid connections in France run parallel to the autoroute and TGV networks, sur le grand plan, - environmental planning issues have been taken care of from day one

    https://www.rte-france.com/sites/default/files/plaquette_interconnexions_anglais.pdf

    Average daily price of interchanges = EUR 50 to 70+ EUR/MWh

    The latest French electric energy industry Statement of Condition:
    https://www.rte-france.com/en/

    Mobile phone apps for Frenchgrid:

    Android: http://bit.do/rtefrapp

    iPhone: http://bit.do/rtefrappiphone


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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,282 ✭✭✭✭Eric Cartman


    eircom networks still behave like they were state owned, inefficient, lazy and not customer friendly. Getting anything done is a challenge especially if your bill provider is not eir at the front.

    Years of not labelling things and installing sub standard cabling leave many properties unable to get broadband even within 1km of the cabinet.

    To fix our mess you have to open up the copper network to more authorised providers and seperate completely from the old 'telecom eireann' working mentality.


  • Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 28,793 Mod ✭✭✭✭oscarBravo


    eircom networks still behave like they were state owned, inefficient, lazy and not customer friendly. Getting anything done is a challenge especially if your bill provider is not eir at the front.

    I don't know why that myth still persists, but it needs to die in a fire. There are many, many service providers using open eir's network to provide services, and if you think that getting things done is easier with eir as your service provider, you haven't been paying attention to the reams of complaints from eir's customers lately.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,282 ✭✭✭✭Eric Cartman


    oscarBravo wrote: »
    I don't know why that myth still persists, but it needs to die in a fire. There are many, many service providers using open eir's network to provide services, and if you think that getting things done is easier with eir as your service provider, you haven't been paying attention to the reams of complaints from eir's customers lately.

    its like pulling teeth trying to get 'open' eir to do anything, but if your bill isnt from eir, your issue is at the bottom of their queue. Nobody is trying to say eir are any good at anything.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,533 ✭✭✭kub


    There was me believing that all analogue lines were going to become VOIP by the end of 2020.

    In my own area I have noticed a lot of civil work going on by contractors in what looks like running new lines in 30 year ole housing estates etc, these vehicles have Huaewi stickers on them so i assumed it had to do with upgrading the telephone infrastructure.


  • Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 28,793 Mod ✭✭✭✭oscarBravo


    its like pulling teeth trying to get 'open' eir to do anything, but if your bill isnt from eir, your issue is at the bottom of their queue.

    Repeating this won't magically make it true. If you have evidence of this, kindly supply it to ComReg, who will file open eir literally millions of euros if it's true.

    If you don't have evidence of it, please stop spouting crap about stuff you know nothing about.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,282 ✭✭✭✭Eric Cartman


    oscarBravo wrote: »
    Repeating this won't magically make it true. If you have evidence of this, kindly supply it to ComReg, who will file open eir literally millions of euros if it's true.

    If you don't have evidence of it, please stop spouting crap about stuff you know nothing about.

    Im still waiting after almost 60 days to have a PRI installed and block migrated , billed by vodafone.
    Had one that was billed by eir completed in 28 days to the same street on the same cabinet , ordered after the first one.


  • Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 28,793 Mod ✭✭✭✭oscarBravo


    Im still waiting after almost 60 days to have a PRI installed and block migrated , billed by vodafone.
    Had one that was billed by eir completed in 28 days to the same street on the same cabinet , ordered after the first one.

    Has it ever crossed your mind that you might be dealing with Vodafone's incompetence, rather than open eir's intransigence? Having had dealings with both Vodafone and open eir over the past couple of years, frankly I'd much rather deal with the latter.

    I have an anecdote too: two companies in the same building ordered FTTH connections on the same day, one from eir retail and one from a small local ISP. The former's reason was exactly what you described: he was convinced that if he had any problems, they'd get sorted more quickly when dealing with eir.

    A week later, the business that ordered from the local ISP was up and running. The business that ordered from eir was attempting to get a sloppy install amended, and was running the gauntlet of eir's famous customer care in the process.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,447 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell


    National Broadband Plan faces further delays by Government
    The project has been a commitment of the Government for several years

    Has anyone actually determined how many subscribers (%) in Rural Ireland will actually pay for FTTH broadband - or even how much that will cost.

    I live in Dublin 4 and cannot get FTTH.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,015 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    Eir are private and pretty much have a monopoly on the network. If they were state owned you could take it up with your TD. Also we'd have rural broadband everywhere. I always find it odd people think private companies will go the extra mile because they are private.
    I left them years ago and kept receiving bills. Each time I received one I'd call and say I'd closed the account. They'd apologise and the next cycle I'd get another bill showing I hadn't paid the previous one. This happened 3 times so I wrote a registered letter to the head of that department, never got another bill.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,447 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell


    There is an event on Thursday night with Eoin Reeves who advised the government on the national broadband plan who has written a report about PPPs using the broadband plan as a case study and talking about the risks of exporting the model to the developing world. https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/public-launch-buyer-beware-a-critique-of-ppps-tickets-73293622197

    Date And Time
    Thu, 26 September 2019

    19:00pm – 21:00pm

    Location
    Carmelite Community Centre
    56 Aungier Street
    D02 T258 Dublin 2

    It should be interesting. Free entry - all welcome.


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