NBN for Dummies

 My wife announced to me the other day that she had signed up for the NBN which we would get for free. Now free is a key word for me so I put down what I was doing (solving a set of differential equations) and cautiously asked for some more details. Apparently the NBN company would put the optical fibre to our house, install the modem and wire it into our computer all for free and, as a result, we would have a download speed of 4 billion gigabits per second. I did query her last statement and suggested mildly that our faithful Intel Duo machine would undoubtedly suffer indigestion trying to swallow gigabits at that rate. As is her want when cornered, she went off at a tangent. Apparently our emails would be much quicker and we could also send more photos. I did refrain from pointing out that a nano second here and there was not likely to be noticeable, and that if she rose from bed a few minutes earlier each day that would more than compensate. Anyway the die was cast and NBN were coming to lay the cable.

 Now the grand kids, who were staying over for a few days, were listening to this conversation and immediately asked if Minecraft would be better, Barbara assured them it would be much better and thus enlisted some supporters for her NBN. I was not sure why they were happy since at the moment Minecraft was banned by their father – that morning following some transgression he had yelled at the eldest “Right that’s it - no more privileges for a week”. Five minutes later when she was quietly drawing, I asked her casually (I was a little suspicious), what were privileges. She replied with a shrug and equally casually “I don’t know but they’re gone”. I managed to make it out of the room before collapsing hysterical with laughter as I shared this gem with Barb.

 I had plans for these kids since earlier they had sought permission to plant a rather large seed they had found. I had agreed and they duly dug a hole, planted and watered it.

 The next morning the NBN crew arrived, that is two fourteen year olds in a lime green HSV ute with P plates. I went down and asked them what their plans were and was informed that they would tunnel under the drive way and lay the fibre to the junction box. In the meantime I went off to watch the kids as they tumbled out of bed and raced down stairs to see how their tree was going – I had assured them that we had good soil and great water and that it would grow quickly. They were ecstatic, their tree was a foot high.

 In the mean time the NBN crew had dug two large holes one each side of the driveway and were attempting, with a large sledge hammer (price sticker still on it) to drive a pipe with a sharp point attached under the concrete drive. Thirteen feet they told me and when it came out they would remove the point and pull the cable through. Seemed like a plan so I left them to it. The kids had departed for some outing so it was time to attend to their tree.

 Later I returned to the P platers who had backed their HSV up on the lawn and were trying to pull the pipe out. We struck some thing large and couldn’t drive the borer through they explained, and it had broken. They were not sure what they had hit. I suggested an errant asteroid, but they simply looked at me speculatively and whispered something. Not sure what but it did sound suspiciously like ‘A few sandwiches short of a picnic’. In the meantime the kids had arrived back and I could hear from their yells of excitement that their tree was now three feet high. So of course they needed to water it some more, growing is such thirsty work. As night drew in the P platers filled in their pits, borer and all and departed, as we were later informed never to be seen again.

 The following day Telstra rang to say they were coming to do the connection, Barbara did try to explain that the cable was not through but it said it was through on their work order so they were coming – implying that what would she know about the cable. On arrival and after digging out the pits there was much scratching of heads and phone calls until another Telstra vehicle arrived. Clearly some one of importance given the way the others were deferring to him. He knocked and explained to us that the cable was not through (surprise, surprise !) and that they would have to get an NBN crew out to put in the cable. Another NBN crew we pointed out. So the pits were duly filled in again as we awaited the next NBN outfit. In the meantime the kids had departed for the beach so it was time for their tree to do some growing. Which it duly did.

 The next NBN crew arrived bright and early, this time their HSV was canary yellow and had no P plates. As I explained to Barbara clearly a much more experienced crew since they were off their P plates. Once more the pits were opened up and a new borer installed. They would go a bit deeper this time they said to avoid whatever stopped the last crew. Also and more importantly for me they informed us that they were on an hourly rate not piece work and would be there for as long as it took – they were the fixit crew. The pounding with the sledge hammer woke the kids who headed off immediately to check their tree. Beside themselves with excitement, they dragged me around to the tree which was now five feet high and had red berries on it; not only was it growing rapidly but was also changing species. More water was required despite the fact that the area around the tree was starting to resemble a swamp.

 I returned to NBN Yellow who were at eight feet and going strong, won’t be long now they said. Some time later I checked in to find them busy with a tape measuring the driveway once again. We are at sixteen feet they said but it does not seem to have come out the other side, might actually be a bit more than sixteen they admitted. I looked at the angle of the pipe and pointed out that it seemed to be pointing down a bit. After examining it once again they thought it might be deeper so decided to dig out the pit on the far side to find the end. By nightfall this pit was six feet deep and still no borer. In fact when I looked out from the balcony I could not even see the NBN guy in the pit, just the shovelfuls of dirt erupting out of the pit. Another day gone but at least this time the pit was so deep that they used barricades rather than filling it in.

 The next day dawned so in due course the kids would want to check their tree which was now fifteen foot high and higher than the roof of the garage. And NBN Yellow would resume their tunneling efforts. Yellow were off to an early start having decided that they were deep enough so they would extend the pit along the side of the driveway until the wandering borer was located. Moreover they had called up reinforcements, a very large truck with a water cannon and sludge pump, hydraulic mining must be the answer.

It was. They found the end of the borer underneath the fence in the neighbor’s yard, at eighteen feet and just under six feet down. Success. So now I had a quagmire in the front yard as well as the back yard around the tree. But at least we had the cable through and all that now remains is to convince Telstra that it really is through and to come out and finish the job.

 That way we can get our 4 billion gigabits per second and then we will be too fast for the human eye. The kids are leaving today and have issued me with strict instructions to keep watering their tree, I think they have visions of building a tree house in it when they next stay.

 I refrained from pointing out to NBN that I had a tree grow fifteen feet while they were putting in the fibre..