+ Saturday December 7th, 2019

NBN Co’s latest corporate plan shows the national broadband network operator is serious about improving service speeds for Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) customers, however FTTN customers will be left behind.

Released Friday, the 2020-23 corporate plan sets the NBN strategy for the next 4 years, noting that 8.6 million households will be able to access the network by 30 June 2023. Approximately 40% of those households will be stuck on the NBN’s worst access technology Fibre to the Node, and just 21% will be Fibre to the Premises which is what the whole network would’ve been under the original policy.

Be that as it may, parts of the network are seeing significant improvements and will do under the plan for the next four years. Fibre customers can already achieve gigabit speeds (in theory, though there aren’t retail plans at these speeds), and soon FTTC and HFC customers will be able to enjoy much faster speeds too.

Making up a combined 3.1% of NBN customers, FTTC and HFC customers stand to receive theoretical gigabit speeds with technology improvements – FTTC customers will be progressively upgraded to G.fast tech, delivering gigabit to the household. HFC customers will see an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1, which delivers the same benefits.

Unfortunately, the largest group of users – the 40% of users on FTTN – will not see any significant improvement under the 2020-23 NBN plan. NBN Co’s Stephen Rue said there were no plans within the strategy’s four year timeline, stressing that the emphasis was on completing the network rollout and ensuring NBN Co-was profitable.

“We expect 90% of FTTN customers will reach speeds of 50 Mbps, and we guarantee 25 Mbps to all of them. Our priority now is to complete the rollout, which we are on target to do by June 2020. The best way to ensure we can invest in future the network will be to generate a strong cash flow.”

Customers in FTTN have been experimenting with alternative access technologies to improve their broadband speeds – Optus’ 4G home broadband plans are increasingly popular, and 5G home broadband will be moreso, promising faster speeds than most FTTN connections can deliver.

This situation is fairly disappointing – while Fibre, FTTC and HFC customers (and, to an extent, even Fixed Wireless customers) are enjoying fast broadband speeds, FTTN customers are guaranteed just 25Mbps, speeds barely quicker than the ADSL2 technology the NBN was meant to replace.

While there are no plans across the board to improve the lot of FTTN customers, it is likely that smaller projects will continue to speed up the worst FTTN connections – NBN Co has said previously that in areas where the minimum 25Mbps speeds cannot be reached, it will look at overbuilding/replacing the FTTN network with something better, such as FTTC or (where infrastructure permits) HFC instead.

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be happening everywhere, and for FTTN users, the next four years look bleak.

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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Dave Pitman
Guest
Dave Pitman

What before? Huge numbers of us don’t have nbn at all yet.
Fttn users expecting upgrades?
Get off the grass!

Graeme
Guest
Graeme

And nothing is done to provide NBN to homes like mine which gave a damaged phone cable, just ignored.

Me
Guest
Me

Everyone it rains my connection drops out. Yay NBN.

Brainbeat
Guest
Brainbeat

I was chatting to a nbn customer service rep and at least in hist opinion once it is finished being built then they can start making it better for everyone. I think that should mean the replacement of a lot of fttn with fttc. Now this may not be in the immediate plans which does suck for you but from someone still waiting to be connected with a current 12/1.1 connection this also getting similar download speeds are at least likely to be getting better uploads. I am a photographer and wannabe streamer and I can say adsl is not… Read more »

Stephen
Ausdroid Reader

3.1 + 40. What about the other 56%?

Sam
Guest
Sam

It’s a little disingenuous to criticise the 25MBps minimum speed for being “barely quicker than […] ADSL2” — as anyone who’s had ADSL in a marginal area will tell you, 25MBps would be a *vast* upgrade.

Deevo
Guest
Deevo

I’ve just swapped over to the NBN and my speed is now slower than ADSL was.

Snoozin
Guest
Snoozin

I agree. While I felt lucky to have about 10mbps on ADSL, I now have around 34mbps speeds. Best thing ever was to get the NBN here 🙂

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

Absolutely ripoff, I never got more than 12 mbps speed, and NBN never going to fix this, told by telecom companies, so I switch to wireless connection, getting much better speed…NBN is one of biggest blunder of Australia, costs billions without any achievements…shame!

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

I reckon complaints come from those that had better services before. I am no techie but was in cable and my service was perfect but had to change to NBN as cable service was finishing. My FTTN is slower than my cable was and drops out and speeds are erratic but never as fast as the cable was.
NBN is a backward step.

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

They daisy-chain pillars in WA. My eventual cabinet (node) is not even in my suburb! Fake nbn. Chris Rowland is this common?

Tarx
Guest
Tarx

“…NBN’s worst access technology Fibre to the Node” Are you forgetting wireless for those in “regional and remote Australie” i.e. 16km from a capital city GPO?

Mathew
Guest
Mathew

The ACCC NBN Wholesale Market Indicators report shows that the cost of faster speeds is the biggest impediment to faster broadband. 86% simply won’t pay for faster speeds.

The fact that only AussieBroadband offer 250Mbps on a nationwide basis confirms that the market for faster services at a price that can be delivered profitably doesn’t exist.

Bruce
Guest
Bruce

I must be one of the lucky ones. I’m on FTTN in the town of Gympie (one of the earliest beneficiaries of the NBN) and I’m getting 47-48 Mbps consistently, even during the evening. Pure dumb luck, I guess.

Geoff Harrower
Guest
Geoff Harrower

My experience connecting in excess of 3000 consumers to FTTN is that more than 90 percent of then are perfectly happy with a service that supports streaming services.
They simply wonder what all the NBN criticism about.

ASHUR JACOB
Guest
ASHUR JACOB

It is absolutely untrue to say that the NBN ensure a minimum of 25 Mbps for FTTN customer, I have been connected to the famous network for more than 2 and half years and we never achieved 12Mbps and all our complaint went with wind. What you guys say dose not reflect the bad conditions out there. Kind regards

Patrick k
Ausdroid Reader

There NBN is the biggest cluster f**K ever! What a Shame and waste of money.

Tony Fox
Ausdroid Reader

4th Paragraph has a typo.. “Making up a combined 3.1% of NBN customers, FTTC and HFC customers….”

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