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NBN begins FttDP network construction

NBN has kicked off a trial of its FttDP construction and installation process in Melbourne ahead of rolling the network out to almost 320,000 premises in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth this year.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor
(Image: NBN)

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has commenced building its fibre-to-the-distribution-point/curb (FttDP/C) network, starting with a trial of its construction and installation process in Coburg, Melbourne.

FttDP brings fibre closer to premises than NBN's fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network, with plans to deploy it up to the driveways of around 1 million Australian premises.

Consumer products for the network will be available around mid-2018, with NBN saying it is now working with retail service providers (RSPs) on developing these.

"We will be focusing our efforts in the next few months on ensuring we understand how to scale the FttC network rollout across the country, and also working with our retail customers to trial the product in preparation for its launch next year," NBN chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan said on Friday.

Having moved 1 million premises from FttN and from Optus' "not fully fit for purpose" hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network over to FttDP, Ryan added that "a small number" of premises will now have a revised timeframe on when they can access the NBN.

Between June and December 2017, NBN expects to commence construction of FttDP across 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.

The total FttDP number of premises starting construction in New South Wales' during the back end of 2017 will be 96,100 in Haymarket, Ryde, Hornsby, Miranda, Liverpool, Frenchs Forest, Mona Vale, Rockdale, South Sydney, Burwood, Silverwater, Edensor Park, Kensington, Springwood, Orchard Hills, and Kurrajong, in the Greater Sydney region; 8,000 in Bega, Merimbula, Narooma, Braidwood, Currarong, Moruya, Greenwell Point, and Tuross Head, in South Tablelands/South Coast; 5,600 premises in Ballina, Casino, Manilla, Narrabri, Tenterfield, Uralla, Walgett, Walcha, Warialda, and Wee Waa, in Northern Rivers/Northern Tablelands/North West Slopes; 3,100 in Nords Wharf, Hunter; 2,700 in Bellingen, Crescent Head, Dorrigo, Lake Cathie, South West Rocks, and Woolgoolga, Mid-North Coast; 1,500 in Finley, Howlong, Coolamon, and Tocumwal, Riverina; and 200 in Portland and Nyngan, Central Tablelands/Central West.

In Victoria, FttDP will commence construction at 89,000 premises in Melbourne CBD, Coburg, Coburg North, Dandenong South, Dandenong, Footscray, Geelong, Laverton, Broadmeadows, Campbellfield, Jacana, Meadow Heights, Greenvale, Coolaroo, Junction Ridge, Cranbourne East, Botanic Ridge, Pascoe Vale, Deer Park, Burnside, Caroline Springs, Narre Warren North, Ferntree Gully, Hallam, Mulgrave, Rowville, Epping, Lilydale, Altona Meadows, Seabrook, Laverton North, Sydenham, Taylors Lake, Hillside, Keilor Lodge, and Wyndham Vale, Greater Melbourne; 11,600 premises in Benalla, Corryong, Euroa, Mansfield, Myrtleford, Nagambie, Paynesville, Tatura, Tallangatta, Yea, and Yarrawonga, North East/South East Victoria; 6,500 premises in Eaglehawk, Epsom, Beaufort, Nhill, St Arnaud, Stawell, and Warracknabeal, North West/West Victoria; and 2,100 premises in Ararat, Edenhope, Koroit, and Sebastopol, South West Victoria.

FttDP will commence construction by the end of 2017 throughout Queensland at 44,200 premises in Ipswich, Albion, Aspley, Bundamba, Brassall, Charlotte, Rothwell, and Salisbury, Greater Brisbane; 9,600 premises in Agnes Water, Maryborough, Calliope, Gladstone, and Moura, Wide Bay/Northern Queensland; 2,100 premises in Ashmore, Inglewood, Kooralbyn, and Mount Tamborine, Southern/South East Queensland; 1,400 premises in Beerwah, Landsborough, and Woodford, Sunshine Coast/South Burnett; and 1,300 premises in St George, Boyne Island, and Winton, Darling Downs/Central Queensland.

4,600 premises in Deakin, Greater Canberra; 22,800 premises in Glenunga, Croydon, and Elizabeth in Greater Adelaide; and 9,000 premises in Bayswater, Bedford, Embleton, Inglewood, Banksia Grove, and Pearsall, Greater Perth, will also commence construction on FttDP by December.

NBN in April said it would be expanding its FttDP network to an additional 300,000 premises across the country in addition to the 700,000 announced last year.

To that end, it signed 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 will be connected by FttDP; and signed NetComm Wireless to supply its FttDP one-port and four-port distribution point units (DPUs) and related services in November.

Despite the FttDP network expanded to approximately 1 million premises, however, the South Australian government argued that NBN should increase this even further to provide as many customers as possible with fibre to the premises (FttP) or FttDP.

"The South Australian government strongly recommends that the NBN rollout be adjusted to provide FttP or FttC connections to as many households and businesses as is practically possible," the government said in its submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NBN.

ZDNet also revealed in October that FttDP will be launched with old VDSL technology instead of G.fast technology, despite G.fast being ready in 2017 and FttDP not launching until mid-2018 -- and in spite of NBN making a show of 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 FttDP connection will be downgraded to around the maximum 100Mbps download speeds currently seen over FttN.

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