A lot of water has gone under the bridge since Australia’s National Broadband Network was conceived, changed, and ultimately implemented. What started as a grand vision (perhaps unrealistic) for near universal fibre to every premise in Australia wound up as something a little different, with fibre to some of the earliest premises connected to the network, and a wide variety of other technologies used to connect premises later in the roll-out due to the perceived cost of running Fibre to the Premise for everyone.

At the outset, let me say this isn’t a story damning the “multi-technology mix” policy adopted by previous governments, or the far-from-universal fast broadband speeds we were promised and mostly haven’t got. That’s been done.

What this is, rather, is an exploration of what it’s like to get fibre to your premises if you didn’t get it to begin with and either need or want the fastest internet available today.

What technologies are in the NBN mix?

After years of living in houses missed by the NBN rollout and struggling with ADSL, cable or – shudder – 4G home broadband, we finally got lucky 12 months ago and moved into a rental that came with NBN Fibre to the Curb (or FTTC).

This technology which is almost as good as full Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) brings those optical fibres tantalisingly close to your house, but not quite into it. Instead, those fibres are terminated in a piece of equipment called a Distribution Point Unit (or DPU) which lives in the Telstra pit somewhere near the front of your place. Your internet connection is then, ultimately, delivered to your house over the copper phone cabling, either in the ground or – in some places – aerially using poles.

As NBN connections go, FTTC isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not the best. For now, in 2020, FTTC connections max out at 100mbps, and if you want something faster, you need to be on an HFC (cable) connection in some areas, or on full FTTP.

As things go, if one were to order the list of preferable NBN connection technologies, it might look something like this:

  • Fibre to the Premises – maximum future proofing, high speeds, and the best technology. Capable of gigabit speeds today, and goodness knows what into the future.
  • Hybrid fibre/coax (HFC, or Cable) – delivered over the coax cable used by former Pay TV networks, capable of up to gigabit speeds in limited areas, and up to 250mbps in some others, while most will be capped at 100mbps. Considered pretty reliable and quick so far as NBN connections go.
  • FTTC / Fibre to the Basement – slightly different technologies, but about on par in terms of service quality / speeds. Can generally reach 100mbps speeds, but some connections – especially those relying on aging copper which might already have issues – will be much slower.
  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN) can use copper runs hundreds of metres long to a Fibre distribution point in your neighbourhood. If you live close to your node, you might get some pretty decent speeds, but at the other end, FTTN NBN might be no quicker than your ADSL connection from 20 odd years ago.
  • Fixed wireless or Satellite – generally not very quick, and while Fixed Wireless can be marginally better, both technologies are limited in the speed they can deliver and reliability, being impacted by obstructions, weather or both.

What if you want FTTP?

Until recently, the answer may as well have been “too bad”; NBN has offered a technology choice program for some time now, offering NBN customers the opportunity to upgrade their connections from whatever was installed to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). However, in many cases, these technology choice changes were not cheap; even what may have seemed a relatively simple upgrade – bringing fibre from the top of your driveway to your house – may have cost many thousands of dollars, and that’s assuming fibre was close.

For those areas where fibre was not in the street or anywhere near, a FTTP upgrade could cost far north of $25,000 or even $30,000 … or significantly more. I’ve seen quotes closer to the $40,000 mark, and these are in somewhat suburban areas. If you’re out of the way and on NBN satellite, running fibre could be impossible (or, at least, impossibly expensive).

Now that the NBN roll-out is mostly finished (there’s reportedly around 100,000 premises left in Australia which aren’t presently connected, out of many millions), users are reporting the cost of FTTP upgrades seem to be dropping, especially for those connections where fibre is already so close (such as FTTC).

It is with this in mind that we’ve pulled the trigger and decided to apply for an upgrade. Here’s how it’s been so far.

FTTP technology choice process

Most things these days start with something simple, and a technology choice application is no different; filling out a simple online form is about all that’s needed.

We did this on the 6th of August. We’re upgrading a FTTN connection (which is connected to our new house) to FTTP, mainly for the future proofing and value it brings to the house – we’ve got a relatively short copper run to our local fibre node, so our connection speeds should be pretty good as-is.

Once you apply online, NBN will be in touch within a week or so to provide a rough estimate of your FTTP upgrade cost; in our case, we were quoted “between 6k and 11k” for the upgrade. To receive a firm quote for the build, you pay NBN a “quote fee”, and for this they do some preparatory design work to understand exactly what’s involved in bringing fibre directly to your house from the nearest connection point (which might not be the nearest fibre node, or even from your Telstra pit if you have FTTC – more on that later).

That quote fee is $330, and once paid, you’ll typically receive a build quote within a few weeks.

In our case, we waited a week or so, and received our final build quote for around $5,900 (from which the $330 already paid for the quote was deducted). Being that we want fibre, we accepted the quote and paid NBN Co for the technology switch build.

As of the end of August, we’ve been advised to wait a couple of weeks for a more detailed estimate of when works will begin and be completed by. Worst case, says NBN Co, it could take 3 to 6 months, but best case – especially if the works required aren’t especially complicated – it could be much faster.

So, for now, we wait — we’ll be back with you in a little while with the outcome of our technology choice fibre upgrade. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the process please let us know in the comments below!

 

57 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter
Peter
3 months ago

The whole NBN is a scam they have taken my hfc cable speed away of 120mbs and when I have to go to the nbn I will be lucky to get 80mbs on fttc. For what I currently pay I will only get 20mbs on the nbn

It’s not fair that I can’t choose to keep the hfc

Richard Smart
Richard Smart
3 months ago

The only nbnchoice application I can find on their site is that one where you have to pay $330. I want to get the equivalent of your $6-11k. Where is that form?

Chris Rowland
Chris
Reply to  Richard Smart
3 months ago

Fill out the application and submit. They’ll email you with a ballpark quote before you pay the $330 quote preparation fee.

Wt
Wt
3 months ago

Yet another LNP failure to add to their growing list of [email protected]$ups. So much rorting and lying in their years in government and opposition. Last 20 years have been the worst in Australians history of policy and politics. Labor FTTP should never have been scrapped. No way I would pay to upgrade when the LNP wasted our money on a crap rollout. If only we could due them for the disaster that is multi technology mix the LNP way.

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  Wt
3 months ago

The reality is that if you cannot afford Technology Change, then it is very unlikely that you could afford fast speeds under Labor’s plan.

Don’t forget Labor expected less than 2% to have 1Gbps in 2026, while close to 50% remained on 12Mbps.

B
B
3 months ago

NBN should be scrapped, it’s just a worthless sinkhole of taxpayer money! At least the original plan would have given benifits, instead we get to pay Telstra for using their pits that’s taxpayers also paid for.
Or everyone in change of nbn and the idiot politicians who made it happen should be forced to use sub 25mb just like nbn delivers to the vast majority of Australia or fixed wireless just so they know how useless it is.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  B
3 months ago

No B.
They should be forcibly put on FTTN, and have their access speed downgraded to the equivalent of the slowest ADSL1 speed, and have no ability to access FTTP, HFC, FTTC, or satellite.

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  B
3 months ago

Why not force them on 12Mbps just like Labor planned for close to 50%?
Labor’s estimates continued through to 2028.

It is a joke that even with FTTN, the NBN average speed is faster than Labor planned because of CVC price cuts and bundling of AVC.

Dave M
Dave M
3 months ago

So they have enough information to give you the $6k quote, but not enough to determine if the install will take 3 months.. or double that, or maybe much less… Seems rather suspicious.

sujayv_au
sujayv_au
Reply to  Dave M
3 months ago

If the NBN FTTP delivery is anything like a premium fibre build, the actual time and cost to deliver will depend on a site survey which is done after the design team gets the order. The site survey will look at things such as conduits, fibre path and the amount of fibre required. They will also look at how difficult it will be to deliver the NTU into your house. Will drilling of walls be required. The situation I don’t understand is FTTC. NBN runs the fibre very close to the house. Why not give the household to pay a… Read more »

Vedru
Vedru
3 months ago

Most companies give you a quote without having to pay them $330. This is the problem of monopoly, they can charge whatever they want and you cannot get a competing quote for the job.

sujayv_au
sujayv_au
Reply to  Vedru
3 months ago

I think you will find the fee is not a quote fee per se but the site survey fee. If this was a Telstra fibre rollout, the site survey fee is $1,500. I know I would rather pay the $330. It is the build cost that worries me most.

Rod
Rod
3 months ago

Technology choice, with limitations. My FTTN node is 800m away from my home, but in the other direction I’m 50m away from the pit in the next street containing HFC all the way through. While fibre is always going to be the superior option, I’d happily take HFC for a fee, over my not so great FTTN connection. But, it is explicitly prohibited by NBNs technology choice program.

Adam M
Adam M
Reply to  Rod
3 months ago

What’s worse is that if you upgrade to FTTP, you pay for the full 800m of fibre. Then, next week, anyone whose house now has fibre in the street in front of it only pays to join onto that fibre and you never get any money back for having upgraded a public asset. The whole thing is a rort designed to actively discrourage upgrading.

Simon
Simon
3 months ago

It’s crazy that some people get FTTP or FTTC “for free” while others, some just down the road, get slow FTTN or even Fixed Wireless or Satellite. I’m about 1km from my closest node, get about 30/6 speed, and NBNco want $20k to upgrade me to something that should have been built to start with! What an unfair disaster for our $51b!

Willy
Willy
3 months ago

Technology choice is a joke. I’m on FTTN, however the development next to me (literally 50m up the road) is FTTP.
The fibre for that development runs through the pit out front of my place.

I got a quote for $15k to switch to FTTP, because they can’t connect me to existing infrastructure and have to run new fibre. Wish they’d just done it right the first time.

sujayv_au
sujayv_au
Reply to  Willy
3 months ago

NBNCo is mandated to deliver FTTP to every new development. For your scenario, I wonder if the $15K will drop once the new development is completed and there is closer infrastructure they can connect you to. Worth asking again when the development is completed.

Shaun
Shaun
3 months ago

Which means they should have done it right on the first place, common sense not political point scoring.

Stephen
Stephen
3 months ago

I was on the old cable, fantastic speed of 100Mpbs +. Have just connected to NBN. What a downgrade,,,, I now pay more and speed struggles at around 17 Mpbs .( I’m paying for 50Mbps) Oh I miss my 28 year old cable connection. I even asked to revert back to it after my NBN was connected. They refused. Telstra said “NBN technology won’t support speed more than 50 in my area” I live 8 Km from CBD,,, really. I am so disappointed, NBN and Telstra are a mess. If you have cable,,,,,stick with it . NBN says August 2021… Read more »

Moe
Moe
Reply to  Stephen
3 months ago

That’s my worry too. I’m still on Optus Cable and averaging around 80mbps+, whilst WFH and Remote Learning with 2 Primary School aged kids. Our NBN connection is HFC, so in theory we should be OK, but still can’t make the jump. They’ve extended the cut off for our cable to October now, so can stick with cable a little longer before having to grudgingly move to NBN.

Bernie Knowles
Bernie Knowles
3 months ago

I truly feel dudded after receiving a fttn connection. I was then quoted $13000 to fix what should have been in the first place.

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  Bernie Knowles
3 months ago

$13,000 is cheaper than stamp duty on moving house.

Paul Johns.
Paul Johns.
3 months ago

My clients built 10 apartments 2 years ago and NBN was laid in the street just before construction finished. They paid all the fees to Telstra and all cables, connections etc were installed by Telstra. Telstra sent notification to NBN to hand over connections. To this day NBN has not received it. Tenants and the internet service providers cannot connect. Complaint to Ombudsman are only for ISP’s. Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to hear complaints about NBN Co. 2 years later and only connection available is ADSL. NBN says have to start all applications and fees to be paid again.

sujayv_au
sujayv_au
Reply to  Chris Rowland
3 months ago

Yep. The developer made a mistake here. Should have used the New Development application process. They would have had FTTP by now.

Kurt
Kurt
3 months ago

I just checked , I cannot see anywhere that I can get a free estimate on cost for FTTP, can you provide a link to where you made your initial free estimate ?

kurt janda
kurt janda
3 months ago

I have FTTC, and am about to sign up for a 100 mb connection. Surely it can’t cost too much to run fibre into my property !?

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  kurt janda
3 months ago

FTTC should support 100Mbps

Allan Scott
Allan Scott
3 months ago

I was trying to get fttp to my new rental property had given NBN all the ID numbers for the house the pit is 50 m up the road with a 12 port Mpt with 11 ports allocated for the 11 houses which 5 houses have fibre connected but they won’t connect me even though all details are correct and I can have a fibre service but between now and 31/12/2020. There not interested in helping me this service was to have been done by Mar 2016 told me to get a Copper pair and ADSL which shouldn’t be available… Read more »

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  Allan Scott
3 months ago

This poor service level is exactly the outcome that was expected when Labor created NBNCo as a monopoly to replace Telstra.

chris
chris
Reply to  Mathew
3 months ago

What you been smoking ?

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  chris
3 months ago

Matthew has been happily drinking the LNP Kool-Aid, and trying to con-vince folks here on Ausdroid to also con-sume it.

sujayv_au
sujayv_au
Reply to  Mathew
3 months ago

Are you for real? Labor’s NBN would have delivered FTTP. Not this rubbish we now have. Monopoly or not, the original NBN was the way to go. BTW, why is the Telstra monopoly better than NBN? At least with NBN, ALL RSP’s have to pay the same wholesale price. Very different to when Telstra wholesale used to provide Bigpond lower wholesale pricing so that they could then become the monopoly.

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  sujayv_au
3 months ago

NBNCo still have many of the behaviours that monopolies exhibit, and that should have been expected when Labor established NBNCo as a monopoly. As for FTTP being wonderful. Labor expected that <1% would have 1Gbps FTTP in 2026 purely due to cost, while close to 50% opted for the 12Mbps speed tier. Today LNP price cuts to CVC have resulted in the most common speed tier being 50Mbps even on FTTN and little difference in percentage of 100Mbps connections between FTTN, FTTC, HFC & FTTP. In an alternate reality, Labor’s initial plan would have been criticised, the NBN wouldn’t have… Read more »

TimM
TimM
Reply to  Mathew
3 months ago

I don’t think there is a good faith way to frame current NBN outcomes as the choice of the Labor party or as being by their design.
The rollout was so fundamentally altered by Turnbull,Switkowski etc

I would speculate that if Oz had almost ubiquitous FTTP (over 85% coverage by population by 2020) there would be a plethora of services using the bandwidth and we would have people using 4K multicast TV via their connection as well as standard internet stuff (where the data sent your way is what your devices requested)

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  TimM
3 months ago

You can speculate this idea that the average punter would pay more to have faster speeds. However Labor didn’t expect this to happen on mass and predicted that close to 50% would remain on 12Mbps.

What we have seen is that shifts in connection speeds have been driven by price cuts and bundling of CVC and RSPs choosing to move customers to faster plans to preserve revenue.

Craig
Craig
3 months ago

This article was informational.

Although it would have been a better read if you actually included the link in the article to apply for the upgrade.

Elvin
Elvin
3 months ago

I like hearing abou this. Thanks for writing it up. I have a friend going through the same process right now but from FTTC to FTTP.

A few have commented about your neighbours. Did you consider asking them if they’d want to join you in a group application? Is that even an option?

Ozbloke
Ozbloke
3 months ago

My FTTN is up the road, a 10 – 15 second walk, and will cost me $10,000 to get FTTP.

Complete BS pricing.

Lombard
Lombard
3 months ago

Your neighbours will be very happy to receive a discounted NBN fibre connection at your expense.

Chris Rowland
Chris
Reply to  Lombard
3 months ago

You’re probably right, but it is what it is.

Geoff
Geoff
3 months ago

I’m about 1km from my node so can only dream of anything above 25Mbps. I reckon it would cost thousands to even get my back neighbours’ FTTC or the 50Mbps the neighbour two houses away gets on a different node. The neighbour inbetween gets nothing because their house wasn’t planned when the NBN was being designed for this area.

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago

We’re renting a place with FTTP, not sure I’d want to go without it, so can definitely understand wanting to upgrade. $6k doesn’t sound too bad, although it is very annoying when they could’ve just done it right the first time.

Matt
Matt
3 months ago

The problem that comes with it, is that if you pay the 6k + to bring fttp to your house and it then makes any neighbour to you, able to connect for free or much less with no way to recoup the cost

Chris Rowland
Chris
Reply to  Matt
3 months ago

That may be so, but it’s the only way to get fibre so you either take it as it is, or don’t.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  Chris
3 months ago

So what you are saying, Chris, is that because the LNP screwed over the nation, it’s up to the public to individually foot the bill to fix the mess which the LNP deliberately caused.

TimM
TimM
Reply to  JeniSkunk
3 months ago

chicken and egg problem happening I think – if FTTP had been near ubiquitous that would have changed the workforce a bit (certainly this year!) and the network could be using channels to send through 4K TV (where its one set of stream bandwidth between many users because its repeated via the FTTP boxes) Aussie streaming services would be utilising 4K at high bitrate , more TVs with related features would be selling like mad – there would likely be lots more Tele-health consultations and so on. in that scenario people would have use for higher speed plans, particularly at… Read more »

Mathew
Mathew
Reply to  TimM
3 months ago

I find it doubtful that streaming 4K via multicast is ever going to occur. The only real use case is live events with a broad audience and those are very rare (e.g. Olympics, AFL Grand Final). For anything pre-recorded, the trend is for on-demand watching. The chicken and egg problem was created by Labor adding speed tiers to the NBN. If everyone had a 1Gbps connection, then they could experiment with services requiring fast speeds. However the reality is that almost everyone prioritises unlimited downloads over fast speeds and convincing people that their 8Mbps video stream will look better with… Read more »