NBN Co and Telstra have reached agreement on an expanded program to plan, design and construct fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) high-speed broadband to about 200,000 homes and businesses.
The agreement marks a major step forward in the Government’s ongoing reform of the National Broadband Network. The reforms currently underway at NBN Co will ensure the network is delivered sooner, at less cost to taxpayers, and more affordably for consumers.
The number of premises to be covered by the project is roughly equivalent to the 206,000 homes and businesses passed by the NBN fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) rollout in established neighbourhoods over the entire period the previous Labor government was in power.
NBN Co will continue to deploy its FTTP, fixed wireless and permanent satellite networks during the period of the FTTN trial deployment.
NBN Co’s contract with Telstra will ensure initial rollout of FTTN focuses on areas categorised as ‘underserved’ in the Government’s MyBroadband broadband quality study.
NBN Co estimates areas underserved with broadband account for around 28 per cent of the premises in the rollout regions.
‘This announcement demonstrates how FTTN can help to bring broadband more quickly to many regional areas than would have occurred under Labor’s plan—and that is good news because upgraded broadband can help regional communities capture improved economic, educational and social opportunities,’ said Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.
Rollout regions included in the trial project include:
- Belmont, New South Wales
- Bribie Island, Queensland
- Boolaroo, New South Wales
- Gorokan, New South Wales
- Morisset, New South Wales
- Hamilton, New South Wales
- Bundaberg, Queensland
- Caboolture, Queensland
- Gympie, Queensland
- Warner, Queensland
In addition, the NBN will expand its current FTTN pilot in Umina on the New South Wales Central Coast.
The agreement for a thousand-node FTTN trial represents an interim step while NBN Co, Telstra and the Government finalise changes to the existing Definitive Agreements covering Telstra’s participation in the NBN. It is anticipated that these changes will include arrangements for the NBN Co to gain access to Telstra’s existing local access network.
In parallel NBN Co will work closely with telecommunications retail service providers to finalise the design of its FTTN products and provide services to end-users.
Early line tests using Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line technology (VDSL) indicate that download data rates of up to 100 megabits per second and upload data rates of up to 40 megabits per second are achievable over copper lengths of a hundred metres.
The top available downloads speeds are approximately 17 times faster than current average fixed line broadband connections to Australian households. These speeds allow ten high definition television shows to be streamed to a single household or business concurrently. A three minute YouTube video will be able to be uploaded in as little as 42 seconds, compared to up to 20 minutes on today’s average ADSL connections.
Since the September 2013 election the number of households and businesses with active service over the FTTP network has tripled from 48,000 to 146,000.
In the same period the number of premises passed by the FTTP network has almost doubled to 482,000.
Telstra, the NBN Co and the Government are well advanced in negotiating changes to the Definitive Agreements. These negotiations have not yet concluded but are progressing well.
The limited deployment of FTTN is an important step in allowing NBN Co to determine how a multi-technology mix rollout will change its construction and service provisioning operations.