NBN upgrade everyone was waiting for
THE company building Australia's broadband network has announced it will do what many have been calling for - it will increase the number of FTTC, or fibre-to-the-curb, connections in the rollout.
The FTTC connections (previously called fibre-to-the-distribution point) run fibre closer to the home and therefore uses less old copper wiring to make the final connection. As a result, the connection performs better than those more reliant on copper such as FTTN connections which have, for some users, failed to achieve the top speeds they were theoretically designed to deliver.
The NBN said it will expand its FTTC footprint by an additional 440,000 homes and businesses, taking the total planned FTTC footprint closer to 1.5 million premises.
FTTC connections promise download speeds of 100Mbps, should you buy the requisite plan from your provider, and can be upgraded in the future.
The premises that will benefit from the new FTTC technology are inside or adjacent to existing Telstra HFC network coverage (previously used in major cities for pay TV services) but are not able to connect to the Telstra HFC network, NBN Co said.
The company will use the existing copper lead-ins to connect these properties to FTTC.
The fibre-to-the-curb component of the rollout was initially slated to connect about 700,000 premises - including those in the Optus HFC footprint whose existing technology was also deemed too expensive or difficult to use or upgrade.
Last year the use of FTTC was expanded to about a million properties, a move that was welcomed by critics of the rollout.
A joint federal inquiry into the NBN last year recommended greater expansion of the FTTC footprint, calling for a "minimum" of FTTC tech in the rest of the fixed-line rollout. However that was rejected by the government.
NBN boss Bill Morrow, who last week announced he will be stepping down by the end of the year, said the company was "excited to announce we will be expanding FTTC to cover an additional 440,000 (premises) in areas where some long-copper FTTN and new HFC lead-ins were previously planned".
"The flexibility of the multi-technology mix allows us to choose the right technology for each area and deliver the project on time and on budget," he said.
In total, about 2.5 million households and businesses are still expected to connect to the National Broadband Network using Telstra's HFC network.
NBN TO UNFREEZE HFC CONNECTIONS
In addition to announcing the expansion of FTTC premises, NBN Co said it will begin a staged resale of wholesale HFC services to retailers from April 27.
Last year the company put a freeze on the sale of services in its HFC footprint, which was plagued by dropouts and technical issues.
In November, Mr Morrow said NBN Co could fix these issues on a "one-on-one basis if we needed to" but it was more efficient to halt the rollout to prevent widespread internet connection problems.
NBN Co plans to initially release around 1000 premises in the HFC access network footprint in Melbourne and Sydney. The company is planning to release around 38,000 HFC premises by the end of June in select areas across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
From July onwards it expects to significantly ramp up the release of HFC premises to retailers, forecast to hit around 100,000 premises per month.