NBN fibre-to-the-node trial reveals slower speeds

In contrast to NBN Co's initial trial results, iiNet has revealed that one customer was only able to get 50Mbps on their trial fibre-to-the-node service.

Australia's third-largest telco, iiNet, has revealed that the fibre-to-the-node (FttN) trial is slower for some of its customers than the figures that NBN Co has reported to the public.

As part of the company's shift away from fibre to the premises to the so-called multi-technology mix, NBN Co commenced trials of fibre to the node in the New South Wales central coast town of Umina several months ago, and in August reported average speeds of around 98Mbps down for some customers.

The announcement was heralded by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a good indication that the government could deliver the NBN sooner and at less cost to the taxpayer, although the cost of the trial was not disclosed at the time.

Since then, NBN Co has added more active services on the trial in Umina, including eight with iiNet.

In a blog post last week, iiNet said that while some customers in the trial were getting over 90Mbps down, one of its customers was only able to get 50Mbps over their copper line.

"Recent trials by iiNet on one of our first fibre-to-the-node connections on the NSW central coast resulted in download speeds of around 50 megabits per second, with upload speeds of 19 megabits per second, while some of the first fibre-to-the-node homes are seeing speeds of more than 90Mbps," iiNet said.

"These speeds aren't the norm, however, and not all homes will be this fortunate, because you're still at the mercy of the condition of the copper line between your home and the node."

The customer, Chris Parncutt, lives around 640 metres from the node, according to iiNet, further than the 515 metres for the furthest customer mentioned in NBN Co's August announcement. Despite this, Parncutt is still pleased with the speed boost provided by the upgrade.

"Everyone seems happy with our new NBN FttN service. So far, everything is going quite well," he said.

iiNet told ZDNet that across its eight services, the average sync speed was 88Mbps down and 38Mbps up, with an average distance of 429 metres from the node. Three of the company's trial customers are getting top speeds of 107Mbps down and 48Mbps up. iiNet has been testing the services using Netcomm NF4V and Budii Lite VDSL modems.

The ISP, however, flagged that while the customer at lower speeds is further from the node than the average, other issues, such as the quality of the copper line, may also impact the speed of the connection.

A spokesperson for NBN Co said that there are now 50 end users on the trial, and the average speeds are 90Mbps down and 36Mbps up, "achieved at the network boundary".