NBN's first FttC installation sees 100/40Mbps speeds

NBN has announced the activation of its first fibre-to-the-curb connection, with speeds of 109/44Mbps across 70m of copper using VDSL technology in Melbourne.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The National Broadband Network (NBN) company has announced activating its first premises on fibre-to-the-curb (FttC) technology in Coburg, Melbourne, saying it attained speeds of 109/44Mbps during initial testing across a 70-metre copper line.

Slated to cover 1 million premises across the nation, FttC will be launched with VDSL technology initially, using the copper between the premises and a distribution point unit (DPU) in a pit located close by the premises.

"NBN Co is leading the world in the deployment of FttC technology, and is planning to launch commercial services in the first half of 2018," the company said on Monday.

NBN commenced building its FttC network in June, starting with a trial of its construction and installation process in Coburg.

It plans to commence construction at approximately 318,400 premises nationwide, including in the Greater Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, and Perth regions, along with Melbourne's CBD and Queensland's Sunshine Coast, between June and December 2017.

NBN had moved 1 million premises from fibre to the node (FttN) and from Optus' "not fully fit for purpose" hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network over to FttC, signing new fibre construction contracts with Fulton Hogan, Downer, and Service Stream in December 2016 covering around 525,000 premises throughout Sydney and Melbourne, "most" of which would be connected by FttC.

It also signed NetComm Wireless to supply its FttC one-port and four-port DPUs and related services in November 2016.

ZDNet had revealed last October that FttC will be launched with old VDSL technology instead of G.fast technology, despite G.fast being ready in 2017 and FttC not launching until mid-2018 -- and in spite of NBN demonstrating the upgrade paths for all network technologies and commissioning Ovum to release a report on the benefits of G.fast after trialling both G.fast and its following iteration XG-FAST with Nokia.

This means that the approximate 500Mbps download speeds attainable over a G.fast FttC connection will be downgraded to around the maximum 100Mbps download speeds currently seen over FttN.

"Reducing the cost of the network by bringing on-board new technologies like FttC is crucial, because the more money that we spend on the network, the more Australians will have to pay for their broadband," NBN CEO Bill Morrow said on Monday morning, following questions on NBN's commercial viability.

Also on Monday, industry comparison site iSelect published a survey stating that around 45 percent of Australian premises that have connected to the NBN "experienced issues when transitioning across to the service".

Despite this, the survey found that once connected, were "slightly more satisfied with their internet service"; 44 percent of NBN users said they were able to use their connection to do everything they wanted to online, compared to 40 percent on ADSL2+.

"The iSelect Galaxy Research also revealed that many Australians are very confused by NBN speed tiers despite the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)'s recommendation for internet providers to move away from unclear language such as 'up to' when describing NBN speeds," iSelect added.

According to iSelect, many consumers are opting for lower-cost plans without realising it puts them on the slowest speed tier of 12/1Mbps.

To deal with these problems, NBN recently set up a dedicated churn team, while the ACCC has released guidance on how RSPs should advertise NBN speeds as well as monitoring speeds that customers are receiving.

Despite the debate surrounding speeds, NBN recently found that only one third of Australians know the speed of their internet connections, with Morrow saying that retailers are cutting corners by focusing on pricing rather than speeds or quality of service.

During the course of 2016-17, complaints about the NBN increased by almost 160 percent, according to the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

NBN responded to the TIO's stats by pointing to its initiatives for improved installation training, advanced fault detection, case management with retailers, and a national awareness campaign on speeds and packages.

Previous NBN Coverage

Turnbull: 'Question mark' over NBN commercial viability

It was a 'big mistake' to roll out the NBN under a government-formed company, the prime minister has said, with questions now surrounding the broadband network's commercial challenges.

NBN complaints more than doubling a 'cause for concern': TIO

While the TIO has said complaints about NBN are expected to grow during the acceleration of the rollout, it has called this year's 160 percent increase concerning, while NBN called it 'unfortunate'.

NBN touts 3 million activations while conceding rollout pace is causing issues

The multi-technology mix is great, says NBN, but it is causing customers grief.

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