news Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has praised the controversial Fibre to the Node technology which the NBN company is launching at the moment as part of the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix vision, describing FTTN as “superfast”, despite the fact that some residents may only get speeds of 50Mbps.
Yesterday Senator Fifield and Liberal Member for Dobell, Karen McNamara, visited Telstra’s Gorokan Exchange to mark the official launch of Telstra’s retail broadband plans over the NBN FTTN network. Other retailers such as iiNet have also begun selling services.
In a statement, Fifield said the NBN company would make FTTN services available to more than 20,000 homes and businesses on the NSW Central Coast over the next four weeks. More than 8,200 homes and businesses in Gorokan and Belmont are now able to order a service on the NBN FTTN network, according to Fifield.
The Minister’s statement said: “Tens of thousands of homes and businesses will be able to connect to superfast speeds of greater than 50 megabits per second before Christmas.”
“This is great news for the Central Coast, and proof of this Government’s delivery to our region,” said McNamara in Fifield’s statement.
By using the existing copper infrastructure running into homes, the NBN company can quickly build out the network, Fifield said, saving on construction costs and reducing the time residents must wait for broadband upgrades.
“The first commercial FTTN services were connected at Belmont in New South Wales last month and already many users are enjoying superfast broadband and a simple connection process,” the Minister’s statement said.
“Under the Coalition Government’s broadband policy, NBN has shaved years off construction time while still delivering superfast broadband to more than nine million premises nationwide over the next three years. The Central Coast and Hunter regions are the first to gain access to the FTTN-based network.”
The FTTN services will deliver maximum wholesale speeds to retail services providers of up to 100Mbps (download) and up to 40Mbps (upload).
At the moment it’s not clear precisely what speeds Australians can expect from the Fibre to the Node network the NBN company is building.
When the network launched in September, the NBN company said about 60 percent of premises to be covered by the network were within 400m from the current Telstra distribution pillar. This means that they can expect speeds close to the 100Mbps theoretical maximum. However, it’s less clear what speeds the rest of Australia will be getting … if you are beyond 700m, you can probably expect speeds closer to the minimum of 50Mbps.
Is 50Mbps still classed as “superfast” broadband? I am sure many Australians would be more than happy to be getting such speeds in 2015. However, I’m less sure that such speeds will still be sufficient as we push into the 2020’s, and especially as we get beyond 2025. At that point you’d have to argue that Australia is still going to be locked in a digital divide if these copper loops are not eventually upgraded.
Image credit: Office of Mitch Fifield