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FttN overtakes brownfields FttP serviceable premises on NBN: Fifield

The Australian government claims to have kept its promise to speed up the rollout of the National Broadband Network.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has broken out the number of FttN premises ready for service, providing a temporary level of increased transparency into the NBN rollout numbers that usually lump fibre to the node (FttN), fibre to the basement (FttB), and fibre to the premise (FttP) technologies into a single total.

With the number of ready for service FttN premises overtaking the number of brownfields FttP premises by 1,135,000 to 1,117,000, the minister used the occasion to boast that the multi-technology mix approach to the NBN was working.

"Rolling out FttN not only saves time, it avoids damage and disruption outside and inside homes and businesses," Fifield said.

"FttN's wholesale average speed for connected services stands at 70Mbps, around double the global average peak connection speed of 36 Mbps as measured by Akamai."

Fifield's numbers still lump FttN and FttB into a single grouping, leaving the quarterly wholesale report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as the most publicly transparent set of statistics on the state of the National Broadband Network.

In its latest report to the end of September, the ACCC said there were 248,041 active users on FttN and 32,546 active FttB users. Fifield said the combined FttN/B active total now sits at 382,647.

The ACCC said last month that 25/5Mbps plans make up 54 percent of the NBN, with 30 percent of the network opting for a 12/1Mbps plan, while Telstra is closing in on having 50 percent of all users on fibre-based technologies.

"Telstra's market share of NBN access services in metropolitan areas is 43 percent, which is similar to its market share of traditional broadband technologies. In regional areas, where it has enjoyed much larger market shares, up to 90 percent in some areas, Telstra's market share of wholesale NBN access services is around 55 percent," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in November.

The ACCC said its next quarterly report would see the addition of hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) and long-term satellite services.

Former NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said in June that Australia is going to be bearing the consequences of the decisions made by former Communications Minister cum Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull upon the Coalition coming to government in 2013, when it switched the NBN to FttN.

"The Coalition has put their faith in what has turned out to be a short-sighted, expensive, and backward-looking MTM plan based on copper," Quigley said.

"The nation is going to be bearing the consequences of those decisions for years to come in higher costs and poorer performance in an area that is critical to its long-term future."

In September NBN said it would replace Optus hybrid fibre-coaxial with fibre to the distribution point (FttDP) for up to 700,000 premises.

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