Inverted Capacity Extended Engineering Experiment (ICE3)

High Speed Broadband

The primary thrust behind the ICE3 project is the idea that capacity over the last-mile will exceed or equal the capacity available in the network core. We could term this type of access network as High-Speed Broadband as opposed to conventional Broadband.

Higher bandwidth access links are becoming common place in many parts of the world, and have become a key future platform in Australia as part of the NBN project.

The Australian National Broadband Network

The Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) is a government funded network infrastructure project to provide high-speed Broadband access to all Australians. Due to the nature of the Australian landscape, with a small number of densely populated areas and very large sparsely populated areas, access will be provided via a number of technologies.

  • Fibre - Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) access will be provided in the more densely populated regions. This will encompass approximately 93% of Australian premises
  • Wireless - Smaller regional areas will be catered for with wireless technologies
  • Satellite - Some remote locations in Australia will be provided with Satellite access
The primary goal is to provide broadband access at equal pricing points for all users. The NBN will provide Layer 2 connectivity to end-user premises, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will then sell Internet access to the end-users. Each user will be able to access multiple service providers for different purposes, including phone, television and other streaming services.

While it is expected that many end-users will choose to connect to the NBN at rates of 12-25Mbps, the network will allow for up to 100Mbps dedicated bandwidth to each premises within the Fibre network. Future developments promise to provide connections with up to 1Gbps to the customer.

Rollout of the NBN to selected (Stage 1) Trial sites has already commenced in Australia, with initial customers connected to the NBN via NBN certified service providers.

What does this mean for ICE3

With the provision of high-speed broadband access planned to be made to a large proportion (~93%) of the Australian population, the technology to enable an inverting of the capacity hierarchy will come online in the near future. We will begin to see the effects on the network of increased number of users utilising increased access bandwidths, and whether this will change both user behaviour or the suite of applications utilised on the Internet.

All of a sudden, particularly as the number of connected users increase, the capacity of core links - both within Australia and those connecting Australia to the rest of the world - could rise to the point where contention becomes a problem.

The design of the NBN will allow ISPs to connect via multiple (up to 121) Points of Interconnect and may allow for ISPs to site content caching systems closer to their end-users. Similarly, we may see larger premises of traditional citizen public services (such as Libraries, Town Halls, etc.) provide data caching facilities to improve perceived access speeds for local citizens.

The exact impact of this change on the performance of networked applications cannot currently be properly quantified. Estimates typically have to extrapolate data from lower-speed Broadband access, or simulate outcomes. The rollout of the NBN will allow for more experimental - real-world - data to be gathered to better analyse network behaviour under these changed circumstances.

Last Updated: Monday 29-Aug-2011 12:07:19 EST | Maintained by: Jason But (jbut@swin.edu.au) | Authorised by: Grenville Armitage ( garmitage@swin.edu.au)