Telstra/NBN FTTB trial hits 90Mbps



blog Wondering how NBN Co’s Fibre to the Basement trials in the Melbourne suburbs of Carlton, Parkville and Brunswick are going? Well, we already know that they’re likely to garner some pretty high speeds. Similar commercial deployments in Sydney have delivered speeds of up to 100Mbps, after all, and NBN Co’s own testing in laboratory conditions in late 2013 showed similar results. The first actual speed tests have been disclosed by Telstra at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney this morning. ZDNet reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Telstra’s group executive of regulatory affairs, Tony Warren, has said Telstra’s trial for fibre to the building across eight apartment blocks in Melbourne with NBN Co has delivered peak download speeds of 90Mbps and upload speeds of 30Mbps.”

I’ve argued for quite some time that it would be an obvious quick and easy win for NBN Co to switch to a FTTB model for apartment blocks and some multi-dwelling units, due to the fact that the company has historically found it extremely difficult and time-consuming to get fibre directly in to each apartment. Leveraging the existing in-building copper cables is a logical solution to quickly dealing with those situations. It can also be upgraded down the track to in-building fibre or even just Ethernet. Either way, it’s good to see this work progressing and decent speeds being obtained, even if not everyone will agree FTTB is the right path forward for MDUs.


  1. “Telstra’s group executive of regulatory affairs, Tony Warren, has said Telstra’s trial for fibre to the building across eight apartment blocks in Melbourne with NBN Co has delivered peak download speeds of 90Mbps and upload speeds of 30Mbps.”

    Peak speeds hmm? What then were the average or, god forbid it be known, the trough speeds? I don’t have a problem with FTTB for MDUs, but can’t we find out exactly what sort of speed range we’re actually talking about? It’s all very well for Telstra to say they recorded peak speeds of 90/30mbit, but if only one apartment actually achieved that (and possibly only briefly) then it doesn’t mean much.

    • Exactly. Without more comprehensive data on the spread of speeds achieved in a decent sized MDU, the numbers are meaningless. It’s like saying “Look – we achieved 24/1 with ADSL2+ in a house connected to an exchange!!”. Never mind that house was next door…

    • It’s copper.

      No particular speed can be guaranteed, even with brand new copper. Brand shiny new copper will give the best possible outcome for an xDSL service, but two brand new shiny pieces of copper of the same length can give you a different result – there are a number of variables.

      Anyone provisioning a service over copper of any state can’t – (and won’t) – guarantee a certain speed, simply because there are so many factors that have an effect in determining the final speed attained.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m not necessarily supporting the continued long-term use of copper, but “guaranteeing” a certain speed over copper might leave an ISP open to litigation if they haven’t covered their asses in their TOS.

      You can’t even “guarantee” speeds over fibre, though dimensioning a fibre network presents less hurdles.

      • I’m aware…And this was one of the selling points of the nbn. But nbn 2.0 is all the joys of the old Adsl system with out the speed.

        • So what’s your point then? You can’t guarantee speeds on copper, you can’t guarantee speeds on fibre. So you have to say something. If you can’t say “guarantee”, the logical statement to use is “up to” the theoretical maximum.

          I just don’t see using “up to” as a problem.

          • Sure, they can’t prove that they will be able to meet a specified minimum speed even on fibre.

            But… they CAN still guarantee a minimum speed. Meaning that when they fail to deliver on this guarantee there is some form of penalty applicable.

            We guarantee minimum delivery standards on a whole lot of products. It’s not impossible that there is less than 750g of Cornflakes in the box – but if the label says 750g, and if there’s a penalty to the company for providing less than that, then they’ll be far more likely to err on the side of caution.

            Using the ‘up to’ measure for broadband service delivery means that the best-quality connection can be used as a justification for the worst-quality one. Using a ‘minimum guaranteed’ measure means that the provider has an immediate reason for upgrading the worst connection first (or for lowering their ‘minimum guaranteed’ speed).

            In a situation where ‘up to’ is the standard, why on earth would a provider focus on fixing up the worst quality connections? Better to funnel the money into improving the showpieces.

            That’s where we are now. And that’s why it needs to change. IMHO, of course.

          • The minimum speed is currently defined (I use that term loosely) as 25 megabit.

            “We will issue a revised statement of expectations directing nBn Co to provide broadband services with a minimum download data rate of 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016 in all areas of australia, and 50 megabits per second by the end of 2019 in 90 per cent of the fixed line footprint.” –

            The ‘revised’ outcome is yet to come; multiple reports not-withstanding.

            “Under the Coalition’s NBN all premises will have access to download speeds 25mbps to 100mbps by the end of 2016. The minimum speed will rise to 50mbps by the end of 2019 for 90 per cent of fixed line users.” –

            It amuses me that 2016 is still listed in current policies and press release, despite that date being implausible.

            The rest of the numbers don’t match reality. 90/30 is awful close the 100mbit; until you realise that was achieved under ideal conditions, and no other metrics have been released.

            We have nothing to compare the singular result with. How does that compare with FTTN? What’s the median (or average)?

            Maybe Telstra are regularly hitting 50mbit+? Who knows. We sure don’t. And they’re not telling.

            Don’t get me wrong. 90/30 versus 24/2 (or in a large percentage of cases much less) is a huge improvement.

            I’d sign up for that any day of the week. Really. Get on it. Make it so. I’ll take it if FTTH is genuinely off the table.

            I just don’t accept a single value outcome, as indicative for the entire trial. It is never ever that simple. ;)

  2. Will be interesting to see once the full figures come out, averages, peaks, bottom floor, top floor etc.
    But hey, something is better then nothing :/

  3. 90/30 peak is actually pretty poor. This is supposed to be the best possible situation for copper and they can’t even get 100/40, let alone the promised 300+Mbps.

    • “90/30 peak is actually pretty poor”

      Excuse me? I think it’s pretty decent. Most Australians are receiving 1/4 of the speeds, currently …

      • Renai, if their peak speed is 90/30, then more than likely their median/average speeds are significantly lower. And this is using in-building, non-weathered cables. They’re going to put the same gear into a node and run it over weathered copper for longer distances.

        If their peak speed in an FTTB trial, using 100m runs will be far less. 25Mbps may not even be achievable!

        The fact they’ve chosen to disclose only their ‘Peak Speed’ figure obviously suggests they don’t have a very good minimum speed. If their minimum speed was 25mbps, you would be guaranteed they’d be beating every tech commentator around with a stick right now!

      • I think you’ll find 1/4 of these speeds for most Australians is incredibly optimistic.. My copper peaks at less than 1/10 of this.

        I’ve been on the FTTB bandwagon for a while, as an interim step for apartment blocks. I don’t think it’s a final solution, but it’s sure to speed up the rollout of the NBN and alleviate some major complexity. Although I’m less sympathetic since switching to the CBN alternative for the rest of the country.

  4. What these figures mean for the wider FTTN deployment is more telling IMO. If they are only managing 90/30 peak in a closed environment (I’d take that in an instant but hear me out) on copper that is largely in far better condition than most streets. What are they going to get on my crappy copper that drops out every few days and has flooded pits? I really don’t see most people getting anywhere near those figures. I imagine I’ll be up around 25mbps considering I sit on 6-8 ATM with significant noise and dropouts. Hardly worth spending the money we are to only gain adsl2+ speeds.

  5. I find it funny and annoying that once again only the absolute best possible peak speeds have been advertised, which are no doubt a one off, the moon was in the right position and they held the VDSL modem in the right direction, but advertising the less then peak speeds is “too soon for meaningful averages” and the IT media Renai included seem to be gulping it up and not questioning it at all, apart from a few journalists.

    Yes I’m happy for those that can now get FTTB, as I do believe it provides an easier low cost upgrade path (Replace Telstra copper with say Cat 6 as an upgrade path, down the track), but I can already predict the future of today and tomorrow. Malcolm Turnbull will be on this like no tomorrow, I expect within the next few hours or days at most he will be on TV trumpeting these results. He will order that Fibre is not necessary given such a great result, and do his best to get rid of the evil labor fibre. A few years will pass as people barely even get 25Mb if not lower, and we will have spent all this money and have to spend billions more to upgrade.

    Don’t even get me started on the resubsidisation of satellite connections Turnbull has announced.

  6. Awesome. So on a good day, 90/30. Up to.

    However, we don’t know what that ‘good day’ actually represents. What happens on a bad day?

    This is also in-building cabling, so any relevance or comparison to street based nodes is redundant. The line lengths are almost certain to be different (and if ACCC has it’s way and there’s not one, but 5 cabinets in each location then vectoring won’t have the same benefit) so I’ll reserve until I see some trials extending into the CAN.

    Not even responding to median related questions, however, is disappointing. What’s the average connected speed? That’s actually more valuable. Because that’s what people will generally see and can have some expectation towards.

    Right now it’s a skewed result; I’d be damned cautious about inhaling this as a ‘win’.

  7. And this discussion is now, effectively, redundant.

    Mixed Technology with FTTN it is.

    Turnbull hasn’t waited for the discussions with Telstra to conclude; FTTN cannot reasonably occur without the owner’s consent.

    I presume we are just going to throw a lot of money at it to make the problem go away. Or hand a large percentage of wholesale back.

    There are only so many ways this can play out.

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