Fibre to the Home

Stage A of Carlyle Gardens West (The Far Side) in Condon has multiple optical fibre connected from the Carlyle Gardens Administrative area to around 64 homes in Carlyle West. Connections pass via a 32 port passive optical splitter to each home. Some homes in Stage A are not connected (homes are generally connected in groups of 32). This fibre to the home can potentially provide TV, data and phone connections to homes in Carlyle Gardens, Townsville.

Future Proof Carlyle Gardens with Fibre

Future proofing Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village was the theme of project manager Peter Kirkham's talk at the Carlyle Gardens Computer Club Info night on 24 March 2009. Peter described the Opticomm optical fibre to the home setup to Stage A of Carlyle West (The Far Side). This fibre optic cable installed by OptiComm can potentially provide TV, data and phone connections. Peter hoped eventually for a fibre cable retrofit for all the original Carlyle Gardens homes. This extension is now unlikely unless the government National Broadband Network reaches the area.

Peter suggested a local TV channel from clubs in the village. Plus CCTV from security cameras at the entrances. Later the possibility of buzzing in visitors via the gates some residents expected at the entrances.

There may eventually also be opportunities for metered power and water systems, with billing automated via Carlyle Gardens operating as a wholesale distributor. This may allow some savings via bulk purchases. This possibility is mentioned in some lease documents.

Television via Fibre

Carlyle Gardens started distributing a TV signal in 2009. A free to air (advertising sponsored) TV antenna is at the office. A couple of satellite dishes appeared outside the administration building. The head end room of computers behind reception feeds the digital TV signals to the home. In addition, they convert digital to analogue, so older TV sets can also pick up a suitable signal. That means no set top box is required by any TV, and no satellite dish nor any TV antenna for any home in future.

Austar connected their pay TV system and I believe SelecTV did also. Up to 64 homes in Stage A can receive Free to Air (advertising sponsored) TV via the optical fibre. These same homes can also optionally pay for satellite fed pay TV. All Stage A homes should already have two separate TV feeds in the living area, suitable for an Austar Pay TV box.

Future High Speed Internet Access

High speed internet at up to 100 Mbps is the major reason for fibre to the home. An Internet Service Provider had not been selected at the time the former project manager, Peter Kirkham, left.

Here in the Townsville country regions we may have much poorer data backhaul facilities. There is no indication of any connection from the fibre to the home network to any optical backhaul to the closest Telstra exchange at Kirwan, or anywhere else. No time frame on when internet via fibre might be available. Probably not until the National Broadband Network overruns the existing Telstra networks.

I note that Internet Service Provider Internode has (27 February 2009) started offering internet service over OptiComm fibre at a retirement village outside Brisbane. The Australian FTTH News blog mentions OptiComm fibre network and Internode for housing estates. The best article on Internode fibre to the house was in APC magazine. This includes Internode boss Simon Hackett's reply to questions.

Future Phones over Internet Protocol

Phones would have Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) available, once the internet is connected. This would technically permit free calls within the village, and cheaper calls elsewhere.

Video calls were also mentioned by former project manager Peter Kirkham in a talk about future proofing Carlyle Gardens with fibre.

Opticomm Fibre Infrastructure

OptiComm, fibre connected communities is a Hills Industries joint venture. They use Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (GEPON) infrastructure from Alloptic that fully complies with the IEEE 802.3ah networking standard. OptiComm can provide 100 mbps broadband internet to each home. Telephone, both POTS and VOiP. Free to Air, Free to Satellite and Pay television. Plus security, surveillance and environmental monitoring. See a OptiComm brochure that covers their community digital lifestyle options.

OptiComm installed head end equipment in the Administrative building. Free to air connection equipment is relatively inexpensive (four figures), however pay TV requires accounting, and tends to be mid five figures. The largest expense is probably the optical rack, simply because this is not yet a mass market item. You can expect Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers (EDFA), which avoid converting light back to electronic signals for optical boosting. In addition, 1550TX/1310RX style Bi-Directional Transceiver chassis cards acting as a single data link over a single mode optical fibre. These interfaces to Gigabit Ethernet are typically around A$2000 each.

An OSP Enclosure would typically hold up to a dozen splitters. OmniComm use 1x32 splitters, so each fibre optic in the (assumed) 72 fibre bundle can be shared between up to 32 homes. So one fibre distribution hub (FDH) can handle up to 384 homes. You just add more splitters as more homes are added. If it really expands, add another OSP Enclosure. It is all nicely scaleable.

OptiComm would doubtless be using pre-terminated optical drop cables such as ADC Krone's OmniReach to avoid specialist optical splicing. Details of OptiComm Services, including a download of all OptiComm brochures for residents.

Hills Home Hub

Each home in Carlyle West has an Alloptic Home4000 optical network unit (ONU) in a box on the outside wall. This ONU is capable of delivering high speed internet data, voice (phone and VoIP), video on demand (VoD) signals, as well as RF for television.

Once in the home, data is distributed via structured wiring through the home from a Hills Home Hub in the garage cupboard. All future homes will also have the same data facility.

Telstra and Fibre Communities

Despite the legal requirement of a Universal Service Obligation (USO), Telstra stays out of open access estates, according to complaints elsewhere. If a developer installs communication infrastructure in a new estate, Telstra opt not to install their infrastructure. Residents of housing estates with fibre networks other than Telstra Velocity often can not access Telstra's internet services. To meet USO, Telstra sometimes provide individual fixed NextG connections at land line prices.

Opticomm said Telstra did not offer services in any of the estates it had wired. Opticomm, which is backed by Hills Industries, had some 50,000 greenfield lots under contract for fibre rollout. In Carlyle Gardens we have Opticomm wholesale open access fibre in the section A of Carlyle West, however there is no fibre connected ISP or backhaul (internet connection) involved so far.

Telstra connections are via separate copper wiring, probably specifically to avoid this problem. Government policy is likely to favour fibre roll out in greenfield estates for a National Broadband Network Plan (see also supplement) in the future in any case.