Fibre to the node becomes default NBN deployment

NBN Co has formally ended the plans to roll out fibre to the premises to 93 percent of Australian premises, mandating that fibre to the node should be the default technology choice.

Australian homes and businesses not on the schedule to get fibre to the premises (FttP) on the National Broadband Network (NBN) today will likely not get FttP under the new plan from NBN Co.

Since the change of government in September 2013, NBN Co has moved from a 93 percent fibre-to-the-premises rollout to be "agnostic" in its technology choice for the NBN, opting for a "multi-technology mix" where the most cost-effective technology for each area is determined when the company moves into that area and assesses the quality of the copper network to meet the government's minimum 25 megabits-per-second download speed guarantee.

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NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow had said that NBN Co would like to roll out more fibre to the premises than fibre to the node if cost savings could be found.

"I would love to be able to find enough cost reductions in fibre to the premises, where we're doing more of that than of fibre to the node," he told ZDNet in September .

However, NBN Co appears to have abandoned plans to continue the fibre-to-the-premises rollout in a statement on Thursday, suggesting that it is unlikely any customers not currently in NBN Co's fibre-to-the-premises rollout plans would get FttP under the new rollout principles.

"Where the NBN fibre-to-the-premises network has been deployed or is in advanced stages of being built, will remain part of the FttP rollout, and where the NBN fixed-wireless or satellite networks are earmarked for deployment, will remain part of the fixed-wireless or satellite rollout," NBN Co said in a statement on Thursday.

The 3 million premises covered by the HFC networks owned by Telstra and Optus would likely get connected to an "upgraded" HFC network on the NBN, and those already in the fixed-wireless and satellite footprints would stay on those technologies.

For everyone else, NBN Co said it will likely be fibre to the node or fibre to the basement.

"All other communities are likely to receive fast broadband over fibre to the node (FttN), and, in the case of multi-dwelling units such as apartment blocks, fibre to the basement (FttB)," NBN Co said.

"In order to optimise the benefits of a digital economy we must first and foremost address the under-penetration of broadband access as soon as possible. Universal access, sufficient speeds, affordability, and the time to build are all key factors necessary for us to achieve these benefits, and the [multi-technology mix] guidelines were developed with these in mind," NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said in a statement.

In addition to new housing developments with more than 100 premises that will still receive fibre to the premises as planned, NBN Co is looking to expand its fibre-on-demand product to allow communities to invest in paying the company to roll out the full fibre to the premises in their area under a co-funding model.

NBN Co has made the announcement ahead of finalising agreements with both Telstra and Optus over the ownership and access to the legacy copper network and the HFC networks, and ahead of testing the quality of the networks in order to meet the Coalition's election promise of providing at least 50Mbps download speeds to 91 percent premises by the end of 2019.

The Coalition's first election promise was broken almost a year ago , when NBN Co indicated that it could not provide 25Mbps download speeds to all premises by 2016.

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