NBN FttN users increasingly opting for slower speeds

As more customers are connected to the NBN's fibre-to-the-node network, the vast majority of users are going for 25/5Mbps and 12/1Mbps services.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Over one-fifth of all NBN fibre-to-the-node (FttN) services are sitting on the slowest speed tier available: 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up.

The stastics were revealed by the company responsible for rolling out the National Broadband Network (NBN), in response to Questions on Notice from Senate Estimates.

According to NBN, in January this year, FttN customers were opting for 12/1Mbps plans 15.5 percent of the time; 25/5Mbps plans made up the vast bulk of users at 71 percent; 25/10Mbps barely registered with 0.1 percent; 50/20Mbps racked up 4.7 percent of users; and 100/40Mbps was purchased by 8.7 percent of customers.

By March 3, the percent of users on the lower two tiers had jumped to 89 percent, according to more detailed numbers provided by NBN.

The 12/1Mbps tier increased to 22 percent, 25/5Mbps recorded 67 percent, 25-50/5-20Mbps held 4 percent of users, and 25-100Mbps/5-40Mbps plans were used by 7 percent of customers.

Following the Coalition's election at the end of 2013, NBN moved away from Labor's full fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) rollout to the present so-called multi-technology mix (MTM), which proposes to cover 20 percent of the population with FttP; 38 percent with FttN and fibre to the building (FttB); 34 percent with hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC); 5 percent with fixed wireless; and 3 percent with satellite services.

For the other technologies used in the NBN, FttP users went with 12/1Mbps 33.6 percent of the time, 45 percent chose 25/5Mbps, 25/10Mbps represented 1 percent of customers, 50/20Mbps was in use by 4.7 percent of customers, and 100/40Mbps was selected by 15.7 percent of users.

One-fifth of FttB users went with 12/1Mbps, 62 percent chose 25/5Mbps, only 0.5 percent of users had 25/10Mbps, 50/20Mbps held 3 percent of customers, and 100/40Mbps was purchased by 14.5 percent of FttB users.

The MTM NBN is expected to cost up to AU$56 billion in peak funding, and is due to be completed in 2020.

At the end of February, NBN said it had 23,232 FttN services activated. In December last year, almost a full 14 months since NBN announced construction work would begin on FttN, Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield proudly announced that in 51 days, 1,000 customers had signed up to FttN services.

Looking ahead, according to data provided at March 1, NBN said it expects to have 1.8 million premises set to be served with FttN covered by a build contract, and 3.4 million issued with contract instructions for design by June 30. By September 30, the numbers are set to increase to 2.4 million premises under build contracts for FttN, and 3.8 million premises covered by design contracts.

NBN noted that these numbers are updated daily.

For the HFC rollout, NBN confirmed the 10,000 HFC premises ready by its HFC launch date on June 30 will be confirmed to the Redcliffe trial area.

Earlier today, Telstra announced it had signed a AU$1.6 billion HFC contract with NBN to provide design and management services within its HFC footprint.

"All design, program management, construction management and scheduling activities will be undertaken by Telstra," Telstra said.

"Construction is split into two areas -- field construction activities will largely be performed by NBN's MIMA [Multi-technology Integrated Master Agreement] partners, while in-exchange construction activities and limited upstream in-field activities will be undertaken by Telstra."

On Friday, Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten confirmed in a speech that Labor is looking towards a hybrid NBN policy with more fibre.

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