Assignment 1 – The Last Mile
This assignment is to develop a (short) technical report that deals with a variety of network design
aspects relating to building a last-mile network, with the last section making a specific design
recommendation for a semi-fictitious rural setting.
You are encouraged to research widely, then interpret and present your findings. More marks will be
given for deeper analysis than just repeating lecture content. You will need to find more background
information to answer all the questions in good depth.
• This assignment is worth 10% of the final course mark.
• It is due by 23:59 Tue 31 March AEDT
• Late submissions will not be accepted, except in special circumstances
o Extensions must be requested well before the due date, via the course convenor, with
• Submission will be via TurnItIn through the link on the wattle page for this course.
o You can work together on the research, but your submission must be entirely your own
work, with appropriate citation of your sources. You should look at the feedback from
TurnItIn to ensure you have properly referenced external materials.
• Reminder: There are four questions; please check you attempted all four before you submit.
For the three brief questions Q1-Q3, each answer should be about 0.5-1 page long. These questions
help set the scene for your analysis in Question 4 – you can reference your Q1-Q3 answers there. [The
percentage in brackets indicates the available marks]
Q1: Why is the Last Mile an important and complex issue in Networking and Communications?
Q2: What are the main, typical, options for delivering Last Mile networks in Australia? [15%]
Q3: What are the inherent (physical) limitations on data-rates across typical Last Mile networks?
The above answers are input to the following design challenge. Your report for Q4 should be about
1200 words long. You are strongly encouraged to include appropriate diagrams and tables, to help
explain your arguments.
Q4. Develop a basic network design to meet the following needs of a rural community [55%]:
Home broadband can be delivered through a range of cabled and wireless methods, each with their
own costs, limitations and benefits. For this part of the assignment you need to provide a brief
technical report for a rural community network organisation. Please write to a reasonable level of
technical understanding, but don’t blind them with jargon.
The community wants to build a shared network for 900 farms, across their 30x30km square region,
through a common infrastructure – i.e. everyone gets the same connection, if not the same
performance, to keep the maintenance simple. The minimum requirement is that every farm gets
50Mb/s down, though of course anything better is welcome.
Conveniently there is a perfectly uniform 1km grid-layout of homes and roads across the area, every
home is 50m from the road, and every home has a working phone landline (POTS) from one of 16
evenly distributed and nearby (~4km away or less) exchanges. There’s also 4G mobile phone
coverage from towers across the region. Both the exchanges and the 4G phone coverage provide
connectivity back to the wider internet.
a) Describe the various FTTx/HFC cable approaches that could be deployed and what a
deployment would look like in this situation – what kind of equipment and cables
(copper/fibre) are needed where, and how much is needed. Simple diagrams will be very
helpful. Contrast the cabled results, and compare them to some reasonable off-the-shelf
wireless options. Your analysis should include expected downstream/upstream
performance, any limitations, as well as describing any capital and operating cost concerns
for the whole system. Explain what it would take to run your network for the next 30 years.
b) Explain what you would recommend, and why. Highlight any assumptions or simplifications
you need to make. It’s only a first report for the organisation, they’ll need to go get a lot
more data based on your advice, and detailed quotes for the actual network elements.
c) Use the following indicative pricing to estimate what each design you propose would cost to
deploy. Note that not all the necessary equipment is priced here, so you should flag
anything else that is needed, as well as what operational costs you might expect (people,
a. Fibre: $10/meter for the cable, and $500 for terminating each end
b. Copper: $3/meter for the cable, and $150 for terminating each end
c. Wireless transmitters: Omnidirectional = $20,000 each to cover a circle 5km wide,
and $500 per house. Point-to-point links with 10km range = $600 at each end.
Assume towers with infinite holding capacity already exist where you need them…
(Yes, these numbers are extremely rough, but they do cover outdoor grade coax/UTP/fibre, they
include the active equipment at each end, and they magically support whatever kind of LAN-protocolspecific equipment is needed for each technology. It’s a start).
Note, there is no single ‘right’ answer, and without a specific site survey and more detailed pricing it
is hard to define the ‘optimal’ answer. The aim is to analyse the problem, develop potential
solutions, and make an argument as to which options lead to the best outcomes.
For all questions, cite all your sources appropriately (use whatever citation style you are familiar
with) and be clear where you are quoting and/or paraphrasing your sources.
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