Monday, 11 March 2013

Time to give NBN a good plug

imageBrunswick was one of the first suburbs in Australia to get the National Broadband Network. And I guess that also means we are the first to realise its limits.

One of the issues with NBN is that it is dependent on electricity supply. In the copper network, if the power went in a home, it was still possible to made a call. That’s important, as it may be an emergency situation like a fire outbreak. So NBN have tried to cover this by installing a backup power supply with the modem. Even if the power goes, there should be enough in the battery to keep you connected. All well and good.

However, rather than having a plug that can be inserted into the power unit, the power from the modem is hard-wired. As we discovered four days ago, this means that, when the backup unit goes, you have no connection.

A little ironic, eh?

We’ve certainly had time to appreciate the irony, but will not miss it when as hoped the crew arrive tomorrow to fix or replace the box.

So why did they decided to hard-wire it? It seems bad engineering to add another link in the chain that can break. If it was a plug, we could simply take it out and add it directly to the mains outlet – thus ensuring consistent access, as intended.

Someone at NBN didn’t trust us to use this wisely. What could go wrong? Maybe we’d decide it wasn’t necessary and re-locate it elsewhere in the house – or sell it in a garage sale.

So this is what it’s like in a technocracy. One hard head at the table says we need to be able to make calls if the power goes. Another says we need to hard-wire it to prevent illegitimate use. But then we are left with a far worse problem when we aren’t able to make the simple work-around ourselves.

Let us help you make it work, eh?