Two years later, NBN Co finally launches FTTN


news The NBN company today took a major step towards its goal of implementing the Multi-Technology Mix approach which Malcolm Turnbull has brought to the project, formally launching its Fibre to the Node product as an option to retail broadband providers some two years after the 2013 Federal Election.

The original Labor vision for the NBN called for a near-universal Fibre to the Premises rollout, which would have seen fibre deployed all the way to almost all Australians’ premises. However, the Coalition’s model for the NBN has significantly watered down that model and will see fibre deployed only partially to many customers’ premises, re-using the copper and HFC cable networks belonging to Telstra and Optus.

In a statement issued this morning, the NBN company announced its commercial FTTN product was now available.

“Our FTTN technology delivers fast broadband via fibre-optic cable that runs to a neighbourhood node/cabinet and from there using the copper lines to deliver high-speed broadband ultimately via VDSL technology,” the company said.

“This makes deployment faster than other broadband technologies such as FTTP, as the entire connection from the exchange to most homes and businesses won’t need to be replaced – but with short distances between end-users and the FTTN cabinet very high speeds can still be achieved.”

The company’s initial FTTN rollout has launched in Belmont, NSW. It aims to have 500,000 FTTN premises Ready for Service (RFS) by mid-2016 and 3.7 million by mid-2018.

The NBN company said with a “much simpler installation process on FTTN (as compared to other technologies such as FTTP)”, it expects that it will be able to activate end-users much faster than on other broadband technologies.

The company expects more than 1.6 million homes and businesses to be connected to the NBN network via FTTN technology by mid-2018.

The NBN company has signed Wholesale Broadband Agreements (WBA) with over twenty Retail Service Providers (RSPs) including Telstra, Optus, Optus Wholesale, Exetel, TPG, iiNet, AAPT, SkyMesh, Harbour ISP and M2 Group (Dodo, iPrimus, Commander) to sell FTTN services.

John Simon, Chief Customer Officer at the NBN company said:

“The launch of FTTN technology will help us get fast broadband to Australians more quickly and with less inconvenience to end-users. We are looking forward to getting this part of the NBN network fully built out and allowing Australians to enjoy the huge benefits of fast broadband.”

Tony Cross, Chief Architect at the NBN company said:

“Overseas experience in markets like the UK and Germany has proven the value of FTTN in delivering fast broadband services to millions of premises both quickly and cost effectively. Our own FTTN end-user trials have been hugely encouraging in showing that FTTN can deliver great speeds to Australians, with most end-users on the trial getting wholesale speeds of 100Mbps (download) and 40Mbps (upload).”

Using the multi-technology-mix, the NBN company aims to connect eight million homes and business, providing wholesale download data rates of up to 25 Mbps to all premises and at least 50 Mbps to 90 per cent of fixed line premises as soon as possible.

There have been extremely long-standing criticisms of the FTTN network rollout metholodogy which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has long preferred over the FTTP model the previous Labor Government initiated for the NBN project.

From today, I suspect we will get an increasing set of results from early FTTN NBN customers showing whether that criticism was valid, or whether it was misplaced. Will the FTTN aspect of the network be too slow, too buggy, too problematic when it rains, and require unacceptable maintenance costs? We will start to get some real-world data on those questions very shortly.

I’d love to hear from any early FTTN NBN customers. Please feel free to use the comments below, or Delimiter’s anonymous tips form, to let me know what your experience with the technology has been.

Image credit: Mikael412, used with permission


  1. I for one welcome us entering the brave new world of where we should have been in 2005. In all seriousness, it will be illuminating to finally get some real-world data on what FTTN looks like on Telstra’s thin and poorly maintained copper.

    • But it’s unlikely that we’ll get the real story from NBNCo (sorry, nbn™) as to what average rollout costs, performance, and maintenance issues are, considering they squashed the results of the Melton FTTP trial for political purposes.

  2. Wait till more people connect. Speeds will drop by 30% due to crosstalk.

    Another problem. Has Telstra been replacing copper in these areas?

    • To be fair, my ’30Mbps’ Telstra HFC connection struggles to deliver files at that speed, depending on where they’re coming from. I’ve seen a bit higher than that for some local sites, but not often.

      • 12mbps is likely to be the plan he is on. Odd* that the article didn’t mention that…..

        *Not odd at all

        • BruceH
          If he was on the trial they would have gotten max speed to test so if 12Mbps was his max speed kind of raises questions

    • I get 12 mbps now and it’s excruciatingly slow compared the 110/2.25 mbps cable I had at my previous address.

      Stuff that used to take less than 15 mins now takes at least an hour!

  3. Despite being under a “green splodge” up until that fateful 2013 election, we are still languishing on mobile 3G internet because there have been no (RIM DSLAM ADSL1) ports available for our area for over 400 days.

    As much as I was hoping to have fibre NBN when we bought the house, I am now resigned to FTTN. Today’s news just gives me some hope that it will be here in the next 400 days or less.

  4. “download data rates of up to 25 Mbps” is an important statement. 12Mbps was mentioned as a minimum guaranteed speed with the 50 for 2020 after they turn off adsl after the first 18 months of delivering both adsl and FttN at the same time to give people time to switch. Anything over the 12 might fall under the “up to” fine print of adsl2.
    It will be very interesting to see actual FttN plans from the isps to see what speed tiers are offered

  5. This is a great move not we will jump from the 44 th slowest to 43 rd slowest well done….they do the same with any infrastructure eg roads hospitals police etc our polies are useless oh can’t spend money on it but can get a chopper ride for 5000

  6. Are we really going to keep seeing these “operational matters” statements from the NBNco, where they say “things” are happening, but we can’t actually know what they are, because it’s an operational matter?

    Not once have I seen what the median line length, and maximum supported are. There are published specs for SNR and so forth for ADSL, where’s the guts of the VDSL model?

    Worse – why say VDSL; is it VDSL2 with vectoring, or not? NBNco, for the love of god do your job and publish some of this shit.

  7. It’s been interesting they have chosen very select areas most likely due to copper condition and performed large amount of remediation running new copper cables. I wonder if they will continue this level of remediation for the whole roll out or just at the start to silence the critiques.

    • I have a feeling this is exactly what is happening. Of course they would want to trial in select areas. They need good results to give them a reason to keep rolling out FTTN. I also wonder if they will continue to remediate copper later on once they find out how much it really costs them. At some point they will come up with some excuse to not remediate the copper because they realise almost all of it needs remediation. They will make up something on the lines of “it appears good enough” or they will lower their speed promises because the speeds which they’ve proudly announced from their trials could only be achieved on a new or extensively remediated copper line. If any customer complains about their speeds, they will be told that their copper will not be remediated as long as the phone still works.

      Here’s a thought though: It is mentioned in the article that UK and Germany have been able to roll out FTTN quickly and cost effectively. How’s that working for them? Internet in both countries is ranked somewhere between 20th and 30th so not that far ahead of us. Australia doesn’t need internet quickly and cost effectively if means the politicians get to keep their overpaid jobs a bit longer while we get a second rate service that loses even to Romania.

  8. Does anyone know how to request FTTP? Didn’t Malcom say they would provide the option to pay for FTTP during the rollout?

    I am not willing to pay for FTTN since it will not provide a guaranteed service. I would rather pay the up front cost of getting fibre. Stupid damn politicians.

      • It’s around $40k for a 150m fibre extension in a CBD with minimal civil works using existing pits and pipes.

        FoD from the NBN is basically b.s. It’s a political construction with no intent to deliver.

        • Of course it is BS, that’s why there’s a $330 application fee. When somebody is charging you $330 just for the privilege of paying another $330 for a quote, it’s obvious they don’t want you to buy anything.

  9. We have a trifecta can now scratch more affordable off the list.
    Now that Telcos are charging to same price for FTTN as for FTTP

    • “Telcos are charging to same price for FTTN as for FTTP”

      Personally this really gives me the shits. Why should an inferior product cost the same?

  10. “Our FTTN technology delivers fast broadband via fibre-optic cable that runs to a neighbourhood node/cabinet and from there using the copper lines to deliver high-speed broadband ultimately via VDSL technology”

    aka a bottleneck.

    “This makes deployment faster than other broadband technologies such as FTTP, as the entire connection from the exchange to most homes and businesses won’t need to be replaced”

    466 days to go!

    “very high speeds can still be achieved”


    • You see, that’s the problem with undefined terms, you can say anything and make it true. ‘Very fast’ is all about perspective – compared to dialup it is phenomenal. Compared to fibre? Laughable. I’m excited about the new 40base-T Cat8.x standards being officially ratified next April so we can upgrade a heap of gear – we’re bulging against multiple 10gig aggregated trunks and being able to quadruple that in the same footprint will be a breath of fresh air. If only we could get customers linking up at gigabit speeds via fibre, we could turn the whole industry on its head. But instead we have to look at selling internationally to someone that can actually make use of our tech.

      My long winded point is, words like that are useless – they are political because they are too imprecise to be useful. When a technical, engineering based company like NBN is using language like that and refusing to talk real numbers, you know something very dodgy is going on.

      • NBN refuses to give up the real numbers for this FTTN rollout because they aren’t looking good. We know this already costing much more than the Liberals said it would back in 2013. They only tell the public everything that is positive in order to gain support. Once the rollout picks up and it’s too late to do anything about it, they will brush off all responsibility and find someone to blame. They’ll probably blame Labor.

    • And those green boxes look so fetching too…

      I bet Mal and all of his cohorts, well let’s face it, in fact all of us, would love nothing more than possibly being so privileged to be “the chosen ones” to have one of these cool, monolithic, phalluses out the front of each our homes – oh please let it be out the front of mine King Mal…

      … if for no other reason, but for me simply to boast about the last century/nay last millennium cool retro/vintageness out front my place and of our governments brilliant foresight. Plus of course, to boast about my associated blazing (*UP TO *) 25Mbps (* UP TO* twice as fast as we will need for the next decade)… whilst beating my chest with great pride.

      So I for one can’t wait (well I have waited two years and will probably wait 2, 4, 6 or more for the faster yet slower network with green phallus) but you know what I mean.

      Go Mal you are the man…btw how’s your overseas shares in FttP going?

      • At least if they stick it outside your house your FoD will be a great deal cheaper (particularly if you helpfully dig a trench and lay some conduit yourself!). If I could get FoD they could build a fricken great wall out the front of my house!

  11. And those green boxes look so fetching too…

    omg indeed rizz they are so beautifoul. Like you I cant wait until there is one in my street looking so green but not actually matching with anything including the grass. I will look at it in awe and thing to myself: “holy shit, the effort required to get such limited speeds to everyone by putting exchange equipment out into the streets certainly is amazing” and by the time it arrives I wont even be thinking about what could have been, no I’ll be laughing my ass off at the ones further from the nodes getting even slower speeds than me. I know my region, chances are they voted for this rubbish.

  12. Will we still have to pay $$$ for a new VDSL model out of our own pockets, or will this be funded/subsidised by NBNCo?

    • Yep, looks like it’s now confirmed that the VDSL/HFC NTD (aka Modem) will be owned and supplied by the ISP’s and thanks to dimwitted political interference NBN co tm will lose control of their own network endpoints.

  13. If FttN is an example of Malcolm’s drive for Australia to be “innovative”, I’m a bit concerned about where we’re heading…

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