NBN FTTC: Everything you need to know

02 August 2017

FTTC is the latest acronym to grace the NBN world. Short for Fibre-to-the-Curb, the new connection technology is the newest addition to the Multi-Technology-Mix (MTM) that will make up Australia's National Broadband Network.

What is FTTC?

FTTC can almost be described as a hybrid of Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) and Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN). Rather than taking fibre to a central node in a neighbourhood, fibre is laid directly to a property's kerb. The final connection from the kerb to your house is made with the existing copper phone line.

Not only does this facilitate faster download speeds, it would make it cheaper for to get a direct fibre connection to your house or business.

FTTC is also referred to as Fibre-to-the-Kerb or Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp). When NBN first floated the use of FTTC, they referred to it as FTTdp. While kerb is the preferred Australian spelling of curb, FTTC is an international acronym. 

Who is getting FTTC?

700,000 premises were initially slated to connect to the National Broadband Network using FTTC technology. This number has since risen to over a million. 

FTTC was first introduced a replacement for Optus' Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable network. NBN has confirmed that it will deploy FTTC in areas where the use of Optus' HFC network was planned, with the exception of the already launched network in Redcliffe, Queensland.

Leaked NBN documents published by Fairfax last year revealed internal concerns about the quality of the Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable, describing it as "not fully fit for purpose". The documents suggested that some Optus equipment had reached the end of its life and would need replacing, and that network was congested due to over-subscription.

Since adding FTTC to its roster of technologies, NBN has expanded the scope of the FTTC roll out, and it will be now be used instead of FTTN in select areas. The first 200,000 premises to be connected via FTTC are largely located across New South Wales and Victoria.

How fast is FTTC?

Initial FTTC connections will allow typical NBN download speeds of up to 100Mbps. However, when combined with G.fast technology, speeds of up to 1Gbps are possible, making FTTC far more future proof.

What is G.fast?

G. fast is a new technology similar to DSL for carrying faster broadband signals over existing copper wires. This achieved by adding spectrum to copper, which could be seen as the technology equivalent of adding additional lanes to a highway.

The G.fast standard ostensibly allows the NBN to get more mileage out of old copper. When testing with G.fast in a Fibre-to-the-Building deployment, NBN was able to achieve speeds of 600Mbps across a 100 metre stretch of 20 year old copper.

G.fast was designed for copper lines shorter than 250 metres, so it is ideal for a technology like FTTC, but would not necessarily provide much of a speed benefit to a FTTN deployment.

When will FTTC be available?

NBN started building FTTC connections in the middle of 2017, ahead of a launch next year. 

How much will FTTC cost?

As with the rest of the National Broadband Network deployment, NBN will cover the cost of your initial connection. After your premise is connected to the National Broadband Network, you will need to sign-up with a NBN reseller. When it comes to fixed line NBN plans, pricing is typically the same regardless of the technology type a home or business is connected with. In most cases, you'll pay a little extra per month for a faster connection.

If you're not taking up a 24-month contract, most telcos will charge you an additional setup fee. This is typically around the $100 mark. 

Related: NBN Guide - What you need to know

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