news It could be economically viable for Australia to eventually shift from fibre to the node (FTTN) to fibre to the home (FTTH), but the lack of commercial competition could be an impediment, telecoms expert Paul Budde has said.
Writing on buddeblog.com, the telecoms consultant said that European telcos which rolled out FTTN solutions around 10 years ago now believe that “a profitable business model for a full FTTH network is within reach”.
Uptake of higher-speed packages is “steadily increasing”, and those firms still operating ADSL and HFC networks will move straight to FTTH – “FTTN is no longer on the agenda”. he said.
The move will not happen overnight: while FTTN and HFC are still performing well commercially, European telcos anticipate upgrading possibly in 3-5 years’ time. However, the shift will “most certainly” happen within 10 years.
Such a schedule fits in with those companies’ investment models. Budde said: “Most of the FTTN models were based on a 15-20 year investment plan and a return on their FTTN investments can be reached within this timeframe,” he said.
Australia is some years behind the European and American FTTN cycles, and it is “unlikely” that the country will be able to catch up in the next 10 years, Budde said, because even the initial FTTN networks are not yet in place.
Hence, it is likely that many other nations’ full-fibre networks will be well underway by the time Australia has completed its FTTN rollout.
However, Budde said that if Australia is determined to roll out FTTN, “we need to have a plan in place that will bring us to the next phase of full fibre deployment”.
Based on the overseas situation, it is now clear that it is economically viable to move from FTTN to FTTH, he said, warning:
“An issue here could be that the Australian government has a monopoly on the NBN and so market pressures to upgrade to FTTH might not exist, or might be hampered in our country.”
The Labor Opposition recently announced a new policy on the NBN that would see it support FTTP, yet still keep the legacy HFC networks currently being upgraded to provide fast broadband for the NBN in some areas.
Labor said it would also commission the development of a plan that outlines how and when the parts of Australia still receiving services via FTTN should be transitioned to fibre-to-the-premises.
This plan would be commissioned in the first term of a Shorten Labor Government, the party said. However, with the Coalition claiming victory in the election this week, it now looks unlikely to go ahead.
Image credit: Paul Budde