Telstra Open Day at the Albion Exchange & Museum

By brendon on March 13th, 2012

Kudos must go to the Telstra staff who contributed and ran the Open Day at the exchange at Albion on the Saturday just passed. A very interesting and informative event with everything from 4G & fibre splicing to hotdog eating contests and face painting. As a self-confessed geek I often find I cannot speak with the right person to understand the whole picture of “how stuff works”.

While at the event I had the opportunity to grill engage with many different departments; techs were available from research, design, implementation, testing and maintenance. All within line-of-site and all happy to discuss the technology to great detail. It is difficult to find technical information published on the Telstra Velocity/ NBN network equipment being deployed around Australia. We know that it uses fibre to provide up to 100Mbit/s internet, phone and cable TV but what you don’t know is the HOW.

From my discussions I learned that the fibre based Ethernet+ PSTN+ Cable services being deployed utilise a type passive hub or one-to-many fibre splice connecting a single service from the Exchange to 24 nodes. All 24 end nodes will receive the same light transmissions from the exchange relying on the end hardware to select traffic destined for the appropriate serial number to process. At present a standard light wavelength will be used for each of the Ethernet/ PSTN & Cable service; each signal from the fibre using encoding unique to the appropriate port signal. Every premise will send & receive on the SAME light wavelength meaning that there must be some time-splicing or multiplexing built into signal transmission.

To my fortune, a Telstra Account Executive had invited me along to the day and was able to arrange for a personal tour of the live Exchange. Seeing the technology advance from a wall off rotating counter wheels soldered directly to telephone wires using string for cable management; to the racks of POTS switching equipment right through to the “new” ADSL DSLAM units connected by only a few strands of fibre was simply amazing. So much of the exchange is now empty where Moore’s law has reduce the space used by active equipment by 1/5 while still servicing the heavily populated inner-city suburbs.

There isn’t time to cover the relics and equipment in the Museum side of the Exchange, the only word that can sum up all the experiences from the day. #BestOpenDayEver