Why not FTTN?

Following the failure of the coalition broadband policy at the 2010 Federal Election, opposition spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull has begun strongly advocating a Fibre To The Node (FTTN) / Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) / Fibre To The Basement (FTTB) alternative, which he claims would be cheaper than the Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) NBN, but just as good. So, why not?

FTTN VDSL2 speed graph

FTTN VDSL2 speed graph

The Concise explanation

• FTTN is a short-term “stop gap” using old technology

• Most countries that have installed FTTN are now replacing it with FTTP (ie: To the same system as our NBN plan)

• The investment in FTTN would be largely wasted when the inevitable upgrade to FTTP is required

• FTTN would be almost as expensive to implement in Australia as FTTP

• FTTN’s Speed-to-Price ratio is poor

• FTTN delivers vastly different performance levels depending on location

• FTTN delivers very low upload speeds

The Detailed explanation

FTTN is a short-term, “stop gap”, using old technology

FTTN is not a new technology, having been rolled out in many areas of the World for over 5 years. Indeed, Telstra proposed this technology for Australia way back in 2005, but their pricing and competition model was rejected by the ACCC, and they decided not to proceed. If they had decided to proceed, there’s no doubt that the urgent need for the NBN would be greatly reduced. FTTN was certainly excellent technology for 2005.

But we are now in 2011. The short effective life of FTTN is becoming apparent, and countries which previously installed FTTN systems (like Germany, New Zealand and the UK) are now gradually replacing their networks with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).

So Malcolm Turnbull is effectively suggesting that we roll out a cheaper, short-term network instead of leap-frogging it for the NBN. He’s suggesting we roll out a network that other countries have already decided is inadequate, and are replacing. And that is the first crux of the FTTN debate: It is unarguably a stop-gap solution. Even manufacturers of FTTN equipment say this, admitting they expect FTTP to be the standard within 10-15 years.

Given that it will take 10 years to roll out FTTP in Australia, to step backwards to FTTN at this stage would be an incredible waste of time and money.

In New Zealand, their relatively new FTTN network only delivers an average peak speed of 13Mbps for its users. This is only 40% higher than the current average speed available in Australia, and a fraction of the initial speeds available over a full FTTP network.

Any investment in FTTN would be largely wasted when the inevitable upgrade to FTTP is required

FTTN isn’t really a pathway to later upgrades to FTTP. Most of the systems deployed for FTTN will not be reused, and so would be wasted. FTTP uses about 1/3 the number of street cabinets as FTTN, and those cabinets are about 1/4 the size of FTTN cabinets (Think esky versus refrigerator). FTTP nodes also don’t require electrical power, unlike FTTN cabinets. All of the DSL systems that go along with FTTN are also wasted.

All of the considerable labour costs of rolling out FTTN, such as fibre installation, cabinet installation, electrical labour, fibre splicing, copper upgrades etc are all wasted when moving to FTTP. Worse, it will cost more money to remove the redundant FTTN architecture and electrical systems when FTTP is rolled out.

The only portion of an FTTN network that could potentially be reused would be sections of the fibre run to the nodes. But even this would have to be cut, added to, re-spliced and extensively modified to upgrade to an FTTP system.

In other words, FTTN will cost money to roll out, have a short useful life, and cost more money to remove and replace. Of the estimated network cost of FTTN of about $15 billion, almost none adds any value or reduces the expense of a future “upgrade” to an FTTP system, so it’s money down the drain.

To quote Mark Newton from Internode:

“FTTN doesn’t bring FTTP any closer, but it does push it several billion dollars further away….there’s no upgrade path from one to the other. This notion that FTTN is a “stepping stone” to something else is pure fantasy. If an FTTN network is built you’d better like it, because it’ll be around for a long, long time to come.”

In practise, FTTN would be almost as expensive to implement as FTTP

While in theory FTTN is a cheaper option, that only applies if it’s done by the incumbent telecommunications provider. In other words, Telstra. Without Telstra’s co-operation, an FTTN network would likely cost almost as much as the NBN.

According to The Australian Government, assorted communications consultants, and former Telstra executives interviewed for a 4 Corners programme on the NBN, the total cost of an FTTN network covering ~95% of Australia would have been $30-35 Billion dollars. This comprised $15 billion for the network construction, plus a further $15-20 billion for compensation to Telstra for taking their copper network.

Considering the total NBN cost is $36 billion (including several billion for rural wireless and satellite services), spending $30-35bn on a vastly inferior FTTN system is hugely inefficient, without even considering the fact that additional funding would be required for wireless and/or satellite services for the final ~5%.

FTTN’s Speed-to-Price ratio is poor

To support his argument, Malcolm Turnbull cites a 2007 Alcatel Lucent paper entitled “Deploying Fiber-to-the-Most-Economic Point”.

Even leaving aside the cost of procuring Telstra’s copper network (discussed above), the paper reveals that to deliver a 25Mbps FTTN network would cost 50% of delivering a 72Mbps FTTP network. In other words FTTN is far more expensive than FTTP on a cost-per-megabit scale, costing 50% less money but delivering only 35% of the performance.

The paper also reveals that deploying FTTP in greenfield estates (ie: new housing developments) costs the same as FTTN. In fact, it specifically says “The lowest cost solution with the highest bandwidth in a greenfield, single dwelling unit application is PON (FTTP)…. Due to its bandwidth superiority, PON should be deployed in greenfield, single dwelling unit situations with rare exception.”

For Brownfield overbuild situations (ie: existing premises), it’s support of FTTN is based on three major assumptions:

1. It assumes that there is no cost to access the existing copper network; and

2. That it is only suitable for “modest bandwidth needs, [of] less than 40 to 50 Mb/s”; and

3. That it’s suitability is “predicated on the maximum anticipated distance between the subscriber termination and FTTN system…[being] kept within the acceptable limits of rate versus reach”.

In other word’s, Malcolm’s plan doesn’t make any economic sense whatsoever. Any Government plan requires payment to Telstra to access the existing network, adding costs. There is no chance that a network providing “less than 40Mbps” will meet requirements in 10 years time, and in our sprawling suburbs, the chance of keeping nodes within the “acceptable limits of reach and rate” are very slim, and add additional costs.

FTTN delivers vastly different performance levels depending on location

While FTTP is essentially unaffected by distance, the same cannot be said for FTTN. For that system, the achievable speed is all about distance. Take a look at this graphic, showing the speed dropoff of various DSL technologies over distance:

ADSL and VDSL speed comparisons

DSL speed falloff over distance

The above speeds for VDSL2 assume 2 pairs of copper wire (known as bonding), which most homes in Australia don’t have and VDSL1 speeds are over coaxial cable. They should be (approximately) halved for a single copper pair. Therefore:

• At 100m, FTTN could deliver about 100Mbps

• At 500m, that drops to about 50Mbps

• At 1km, it drops to about 25Mbps

Remembering that the distance is the actual copper length (not as the crow flies), a typical FTTN system would deliver maximum speeds of less than 25Mbps, which is in line with the NZ experience of 13Mbps average.

FTTN delivers very low upload speeds

One of the major drawbacks of FTTN is upload speeds. In the case of ADSL2+ FTTN deployments, these are a maximum of about 3Mbps. In the case of VDSL2 FTTN systems, they are typically about 8Mbps. Again these speeds are dependent on distance, so the further you are from the nose, the lower the speeds become.

The NBN will offer upload speeds of up to 400Mbps.

The importance of upload speeds is often overlooked, but it is a vital component of any interactive broadband connection. Whether it be two-way, high quality video communication (such as for conferencing, eHealth or remote learning), for cloud computing services/remote backups, or for telecommuting.

FTTN does not provide sufficient upload speed for any of these services to be delivered effectively, especially as file sizes and bandwidth requirements grow into the future.

The Bottom line

FTTN would have been a great idea 5 years ago. But now, it’s out of date. Countries around the World are already beginning to replace their FTTN networks with FTTP. The NBN is our opportunity to leapfrog these countries, and save the billions of dollars associated with the double-upgrade. Economists have been suggesting we do this since 2007!

FTTN, while an incremental improvement on what we have now, is a short-sighted waste of time and money that will still leave Australia lagging behind the rest of the developed World, squandering billions of dollars on obsolete technology in the process.

81 Responses to Why not FTTN?

  1. 157 says:

    Even with vectoring, you won’t get more than 30-40 mbits.

    Cable bundles and crosstalk.


  2. [...] Quoting respected former Internode network engineer – Mark Newton: “FTTN doesn’t bring FTTP any closer, but it does push it several billion dollars further away…there’s no upgrade path from one to the other. This notion that FTTN is a “stepping stone” to something else is pure fantasy. If an FTTN network is built you’d better like it, because it’ll be around for a long, long time to come.” [...]

    • Garry says:

      Do we need a “stepping-stone” from FTTN to FTTP?
      Maybe we can use FTTN as a stop-gap to give people that have nobbled FTTN (ADSL) a faster service at a lower cost… at least for a few years until the FTTP rollout has time to catch up.
      Greenfields sites? Sure, put in FTTP; it makes economic sense. Tear up a usable FTTN infrastructure and replace it with FTTP? I’m not sure the economics stack up.
      Yes FTTN will have to be replaced, eventually. Who says it has to be replaced immediately?
      Can we not have an FTTN network running in parallel with an FTTP network for the next 10 years or so? After all we already have FTTN, Cable, ADSL1, ADSL2+, 3G, 4G running in parallel with NBN; they’re just not coordinated.
      The country must take charge of the infrastructure and MANAGE it as an important asset.
      It’s been unfair on Telstra on the one hand to tell them to manage the infrastructure and on the other tell them they’re a stand-alone business that needs to make money.

      • James Carthew says:

        It’s hard enough getting the government to pay for one network. Now you want them to pay for two? The article just explained, that FTTP and FTTN are incompatible. There’s no point deploying both. just build FTTP now so that everyone can access 8k video when it comes out (Already been broadcast from London to Tokyo last year.) It’s ridiculous that this is even being argues over for a 60 year infrastructure project. Spend what $8 billion more? get a system that can scale to Terrabits per second.

  3. Tel says:

    FTTP doesn’t need street cabinets, because the GPON nodes are small enough to fit in pits and don’t require electrical power.


    • NBN Myths says:

      The small FTTP cabinets shown in your link are fibre distribution hubs (FDH), which join many GPON splitters together. A GPON module covers between 24-32 connections, and is a small unit which can be located in a pit. The FDH cabinets are not powered, contain no active electronics and are few and far between. Depending on the geography, there is a FDH cabinet for every 500-1000 homes.

      By contrast, in an FTTN deployment, you need a large, powered cabinet (full of active electronics) every few hundred metres. Depending on the geography, there would be an FTTN cabinet for every 10-50 homes.

      • charliem says:

        What on earth are you talking about?

        There is no such device as a ‘GPON’, it is a system technology.

        The optical line terminal card (OLT) sits in the headend, and feeds out a SINGLE fibre to one of these street cabinets. This cabinet houses an optical power splitter, wherin it feeds houses through individual fibre feeds.

        These cabinets are unpowered, just passive devices in there using centuries old prism style technology to split the main beam from the OLT into many smaller powered beams to be delivered to customers houses.

        • 1putt says:

          Thanks Charlie.
          I live in a RIMmed area. IT already has a nobbled form of FTTN (giving ADSL1). Is it possible to upgrade this to higher speed FTTN (e.g. Fibre to the cabinet as-is, new interface card(s), 4 wire copper to the home – already in place as 2 pair.)?
          Happy to get email – one_putt (at) telstra (dot) com

          • CharlieM says:

            If that RIM is upgraded, yes. But good luck with that, there are no plans by anyone to do that at this stage, not even the coalition want to go near that one.

        • 1putt says:

          Thanks Charlie again for the follow-up. Strange that FTTN / FTTC by upgrading and supplementing existing infrastructure isn’t on anyone’s RADAR at present. The Poms (no offence intended) have decided it’s a cost-effective way to provide a service until the funds become available to go the whole FTTP hog, as has Japan. I wonder, do we always have to be “different” or can we not learn from others?

          • CharlieM says:

            FTTH plan by labour will provide a return on investment.
            FTTN is invariably done at a loss so satiate the hunger for bandwidth at the easiest way possible while maintaining status quo on existing business models.

            FTTH breaks that paradigm into pieces….no wonder incumbents dont want to do it (even if its free in the long haul, if done ubiquitously ala labour FTTH).

            Make no mistake, any incremental upgrade of xDSL from exchange to the home, to that of FTTN or HFC, are all attempts at ‘upgrading’ while keeping the existing infrastructure and business models in play. Capex is certainly cheaper, but you wont get the capex paid back unless you own market share (read: maintain market share…)

            With FTTH, you have strong possibility of losing it due to competition at the retail level.

            Its a mind numbing argument. FTTN / HFC is a dead technology. And FTTH via GPON is certainly not the most expensive nor slowest way to do things either (as turnbull would have you believe). No, that path belongs to P2P fibre connections.

          • NBN Myths says:

            The difference in the UK is that FTTN is being done by the incumbent. NBN Co is not an incumbent, and would have to buy the copper from Telstra before they could consider FTTN. We are certainly not “going it alone”. There are a growing number of countries that are rolling out FTTP now. Some did FTTN first, some did not. Japan started their FTTP rollout 10 years ago, so they certainly “went the whole FTTP hog”, although they have some competing DSL and HFC networks as well. France is the latest one jumping on the FTTP bandwagon. http://delimiter.com.au/2013/02/25/terminate-copper-frances-20bn-fibre-splurge/

      • Isn’t the fibre distribution hubs (FDH) shown one of 121 Points of Interconnect (POI)?
        Become a concern since “Mr Broadand” plans a FTTNcabinet in every street if winning yhe expected election in 2013?
        SMH article in link


  4. grammarnazi says:

    You might want to fix a spelling error. Section “FTTN delivers very low upload speeds” says “Again these speeds are dependent on distance, so the further you are from the nose, the lower the speeds become”. I think you might have meant “node” not “nose”.

  5. 1putt says:

    Hi Jamie,
    The FTTN section may need an update. The UK is fast-tracking their rollout by using FTTN. In concentrated areas of Australia (e.g. new suburbs <15 years old where Tel$tra rolled out nobbled FFTC/N) could we not use the same technology as the UK to provide a fast-track to higher speeds, pending a full roll-out of FTTP? We're not likely to see FTTP in this suburb for another 3 years. I'd be more than happy to move from 4 Mbps to 25-40 Mbps in the short term, even if it is "stop-gap"

  6. cck says:

    as an engineer working on a complicated installation project, i’m still getting my head around the cost and complexity of these roadside cabinets. Every single one is going to need a site survey (or two), an engineering/saftey risk assessment, consultation with god knows how many councils.. they’ll cost $5-10k each before they even think about installing them. And that’s assuming they are low enough to not impede the view of drivers… if they truly do come to be ‘fridge sized’, what’s going to happen the first time a kid walks into traffic because they were behind a great big cabinet.

  7. [...] plan calls for the existing NBN rollout to stop, and be restarted using Fibre to the Node (FTTN) technology. FTTN involves delivering optical fibre to a shared “cabinet”, which in turn [...]

  8. [...] Why not FTTN ? NBN Myths (comparing FTTN speeds)  http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/why-not-fttn/ [...]

  9. TimiBoy says:

    WHICH Countries have installed FTTN?

    WHICH Countries are replacing it with FTTP?

    In Countries that are installing FTTP, is it Government or Privately funded?

    In Countries that are installing FTTP, is it Nation wide, or more protracted?

    In Countries that are installing FTTP, what is the population density in areas where it’s being installed?

    • NeedFibreNOW says:

      1. Sout Korea
      2. South Korea
      3. South Korea government actively support it
      4. National wide (currently major city have it (2012))
      5. Google it, too lazy to search it up

      Japan are also doing it

      • TimiBoy says:

        Thankyou. You just proved the furphy. We are the only Nation in the World doing it by edict.

        • NBN Myths says:


          There are no two countries rolling out broadband in exactly the same way, so the argument that “we are going it alone” could be applied equally to every country.

          There are about 60 countries around the World where FTTP is being installed. Some are being done in small areas by privately owned companies (like Google in the US). Some is being done in a more widespread fashion by established privately-owned Telcos (like Verizon in the US). Some is being done in a widespread fashion by privately-owned Telcos who are being subsidised to do the rollout (such as France Telecom and in NZ). Some is being done by fully or partly Government-owned Telcos (such as our NBN Co, and rollouts in Qatar and Israel).

          • TimiBoy says:

            IF Qatar and Israel are the only one’s with full Government participation, nothing is proved. Nothing. Qatar is awash with money, and has a very centralised population. Israel is much the same. The point I make is now stark:

            The article above seems to claim that “everyone’s doing it” though clearly they are not doing it from a similar standpoint as we are. On every measure WE are doing it from the dumbest standpoint. Our Government is running it, it is very complete in it’s reach in such a Geographically dispersed Nation. the Market wouldn’t ever build this outside the Capitals, and probably wouldn’t build it in some of them. What that means is the Market doesn’t see a payoff.

            Bad Idea.

          • TimiBoy says:

            And now I call further Bullshit. Israel’s NBN is being built by a Private Company (Swedish), and is being planned to reach 70% of the population by 2020. Again, deceit by omission.

          • NBN Myths says:

            …in partnership with/for the Israeli Electric Company, which is Government owned.

            So the Swedish company is one of the construction contractors, just as our NBN Co has appointed a group of construction contractors (Service Stream, Syntheo, Silcar etc) to construct our network.

          • wdferj says:

            NBN Myth says: “There are no two countries rolling out broadband in exactly the same way, so the argument that “we are going it alone” could be applied equally to every country.”

            Sure, so name one country, just one, that meets the following parameters:
            1. Has low population densities, sprawling suburbs, low-density housing and vast distances comparable to Australia.
            2. Has plans for FTTH to 93% of households, the roll-out funded wholly by the taxpayer and run entirely by the government .

            The fact is that no country with parameter 1 is crazy enough to contemplate parameter 2. And no country contemplating parameter 2 would be crazy enough to contemplate it in conjunction with parameter 1.

            Top countries for broadband penetration are South Korea 58%, United Arab Emirates 56%, Hong Kong 45%, Japan 42% and Taiwan 29%.

            1. None of these countries have anywhere near the low population densities, sprawling suburbs, low-density housing and vast distances comparable to Australia.

            2. The people in these countries, people live in massive apartment blocks and the majority of the penetration is not through FTTP but through FTTB (Fibre to the Basement), which is the same as FTTN. The apartment complex body builds and manages the LAN connecting the basement to each apartment through switched Ethernet. Also in South Korea, the predominant technology used to deliver broadband is pre-existing HFC (coaxial cable) rather than fibre. HFC is also used for delivering Pay TV.

            3. Despite the availability of high-speed broadband, the vast majority of households in these countries choose plans of 25Mbps or lower, so all these networks operate as loss leaders.

          • wdferj says:

            In fact the top countries for FTTH penetration are UAE 56%, Japan 25%, South Korea 17%, Norway 14%, Hong Kong 10%.

            South Korea has the highest overall broadband penetration of 58%, but only 17% is FTTH, the rest is FTTB Fibre to the Basement), same as FTTN. Taiwan has 28% overall broadband penetration but 100% of it is FTTB. Hong Kong has 45% overall broadband penetration but only 10% is FTTH, the rest is FTTB.

            NeedFibreNOW, with 17% FTTH households,14.5Mbps average speeds, and 25Mbps the dominant maximum speed, South Korea is not the model for FTTH. In addition the fibre roll-out is owned and built by the private sector. If you Need Fibre Now, your best bet is to migrate to the UAE or pay for it yourself.

    • telcogirl says:

      Isn’t FFTP (FTTH) really the domain of countries with high density residential? Also in most countries who claim FTTP only have access at reasonable cost for residential buyers in the major metro. They like small apartments and urban living, but we like houses and suburban sprawl. We even want it in the country. The requirements are a little different and the costs are wildly different. If you don’t have a job you can’t afford broadband. Perhaps we’ll have to accept 13Mb broadband at home for a while.

      • Sam Ward says:

        Australia is one of the most heavily urbanised nations on the planet, so we could have great FttP at a reasonable price by cutting out the 5% who live outside the cities.

        (Please, before we have any braying about the ‘plight of the farmers’ FttP is just another case of the bush privatising profits while socialising costs. If they want to live in the bush then they’re unlikely to be doing much content creation or other activities that really benefit from upload speeds; And if farmers do want to do these things, then sell the farm and use the (often) massive capital windfall to move to town.)

        I cannot see why the nation’s entire IT future should be held hostage by a bunch of capital-rich, Luddite primary producers.

        • NBN Myths says:

          That’s almost exactly what the FTTP NBN plan is/was Sam. FTTP to 93%, with the remaining 7% served by LTE wireless or satellite. There has never been a plan to to FTTP to 100%.

      • NBN Myths says:

        Australia is very urbanised. It shouldn’t be any more expensive (per premises) to run FTTP in Australia than in almost any western country, such as the USA, UK, Canada etc.

        • wdferj says:

          Right. And the USA, UK, Canada, Germany are not rolling out FTTP. Besides neither are their governments involved in rolling out broadband at cost and risk to the taxpayer.

      • wdferj says:

        You’re right. The global leaders in FTTH/B are South Korea, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. http://www.ftthcouncil.org/p/bl/et/blogid=3&blogaid=15

        The broadband penetration of total households in these top countries? South Korea 58%, United Arab Emirates 56%, Hong Kong 45%, Japan 42% and Taiwan 29%. Nowhere near the 93% proposed for Australia with its low density housing, sprawling suburbs and huge distances.

        In these countries, people live in massive apartment blocks and the majority of the penetration is not through FTTP but through FTTB (Fibre to the Basement), which is the same as FTTN. The apartment complex body builds and manages the LAN connecting the basement to each apartment through switched Ethernet. Also in South Korea, the predominant technology used to deliver broadband is pre-existing HFC (coaxial cable) rather than fibre. HFC is also used for delivering Pay TV.

        Despite the availability of high-speed broadband, the vast majority of households in these countries choose plans of 25Mbps or lower, so all these networks operate as loss leaders.

  10. […] You can read more about why fibre to the node (FTTN) is a bad thing HERE. […]

  11. Sharlee Harley says:

    I think the one thing that you are missing is that we currently have the biggest deficit in history and can we afford to spend on delivery speed at present?

    • NBN Myths says:

      Hi Sharlee,

      Our federal government debt is very low by international standards, and as a percentage of our GDP is not the highest in our history either. There are very few countries in the World with a lower total (or per-capita) debt.

      That aside, while the NBN adds to our total debt, it does not add to the budget deficit because it is a returning investment. That is, because people are charged to use the NBN, that revenue is used to pay back the debt used to build the network.

      • wdferj says:

        NBN Myths says” “Our federal government debt is very low by international standards”
        Our federal government debt is lower (not very low) by international standards only because the international standard has been lowered by the GFC and near-bankrupted previously prosperous developed countries like Greece, Spain, Iceland, etc. No doubt there were NBN Myths-like people in Greece, Spain and Ireland who were saying that their debt was very low by international standards, just before their countries went under.

        • NBN Myths says:

          The only reason we have a federal Govt debt at all is because of the GFC. Other countries already had far higher debt than us before the GFC hit, and it only went downhill for them from there. To try and compare our tiny debt levels to the disasters of Spain, Greece etc shows how deceptive you are.

          On a side note, why don’t you conservatives ever hold up the bastion of capitalism and free markets (the US) as an example of a prosperous economy and low debts? Perhaps because their debt levels (per capita) are 12x higher than good ol’ Australia under the “evil Socialists”?

          Economists globally rate the performance of our economy and treasurer very highly including their successful response (stimulus) to the GFC. A good indicator of this is our universal AAA credit rating, shared by less than 10 countries around the World.

  12. petzlx says:

    Debt don’t matter as the original plan was for stimulus and infrastructure, dubbed as something Australia could afford. Even worse idea economically to stop it now. In fact the present opposition say they won’t cancel existing contracts. After 8 years doubt if there is much to cancel with little to be saved by halting or changing it now (sensible economics state the boat has been missed).
    Much more cost effective to complete it now, with more pluses than negatives

  13. […] FTTN networks are already being replaced in countries which have installed them. Germany, New Zealand and the UK are now gradually replacing their networks with Fibre to the […]

    • davidL says:

      The new zealand model has worked quite well. The FTTN rollout was completed within 2 years and last mile fibre is currently being installed.

      The main problem we face here is the implementation. The devil is in the detail. Yes, FTTH is the best long term solution but from the day it its conception our NBN has effectively shut down all private sector broadband construction. This is due to the monopolisation of wholesale distribution as well as the fact that it’s provided Telstra with a huge disincentive to upgrade existing DSL. Another side effect is that Telstra have minimised maintenance of the CAN. Copper network faults are now fixed with band aids.

      Consider this: I live in a large residential suburb in Australia’s largest city, but until the year 2022 (or beyond) I will only have a 2Mbps DSL service. But I’m not the only one affected. The entire suburb as well as 90% of residences within this entire shire will also be waiting.
      Fortunately we have an excellent 4G Telstra service here.

      • stuck in no man's land says:

        Lucky you….
        I am in a newish estate (about 5yrs old), which is at least 3 years away for any construction to start, and yet am still on ADSL one as ADSL2+ is not even available for my suburb… 4G doesn’t even cover my postcode….
        I can’t connect to the closest exchange (As crow flies 2km), which has ports available and instead is connected to an exchange classed as regional exchange more than 5kms away, which all ADSL 2 connections are gone (according to all the ISPs which I had queried)… so currently, according to current network, I am living in regional WA when logistically I am in the metropolis….

  14. sorry if the question has been asked, does speed drop distance from node or the exchange?

  15. Rick says:

    Will exchange jumper runners have a job in either case?

  16. NBN advocate says:

    What will now happen with new PM?

  17. […] Have found this article is the most relevant as a support argument to the existing FTTN rollout. Why not FTTN? | NBN MYTHS __________________ MY00 […]

    • Scott says:

      Your question also implies why FTTN? FTTN at what now will be a cost of 40billion for speeds of upto 100mbs when now ADSL2+ offers speed of 1/4 of this. I would rather be given $1600 than have this nonsence. Hoverever id happly pay $3,000 for possible speeds in excess of 1gbs. Why buy something that will only last 5 years when you could pay double for something that will last a lifetime?

  18. We. must know if FTTN is a viable improvement using existing copper wire to the premises?
    If it is then it is of genuine value in a staged program towards the future.
    If the backblocks of Australia get faster speeds sooner, why not?
    When the time & the money comes to replace existing copper wire, take it from there.

  19. petzlx says:

    Because as part of stimulus and infrastructure the government of the day decided Australia could afford to go the whole hog. Providing the whole Nation with FTTP

  20. Surely the effective result of rollout will be a staged program, and FTTN is, potentially, a more democratic staged program. I mean, the fibre optic cable will arrive at the back of copperwire locations, won’t it? That is, it can deliver higher speeds to more people in a widespread rollout. Policy should favour those who are truly marginalized.

    I say put a fibre optic node in all the backblocks, towns and cities. Give consideration to the lossiness of distance from the node. Speeds anyway better than 5mps will gladden our hearts.
    If the argument for FTTP wins, we in places like Katoomba, Kiama and the Kimberley must know if the lions in the city will get the major share and we will wait ’til hell freezes over, to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson.

    Or will the big city wait for us to get FTTP first? No! Strictly without proof, I expect that the arguments stem from cities and big regional burroughs.

    Put the nodes in and bring us any improvement we can get.
    The rest will be a matter of replacing the copperwire, as IS necessary!
    As to Telstra, that it is necessary for them to co-operate for FTTN to succeed? They are subject to hormonal changes; meaning they can see that, unless they deal with the NBN corporation, it will lose. I predict that they will readily negotiate to cut in.

    It has been the discourse of the NBN leader (name very unfamiliar on this Sunday morning) that this is a national service; that it is low profit. So the NBN corporation is not up to competition, it is up to fibre optic delivery.

    FTTN means much sooner, much more comprehensive staging towards FTTP. It is in my prediction, conclusively possible in the process of rollout of fibre optic broadband to expend on node termination for a more general improvement.

    I say this as a Labor theorist with real empathy for people of the Outback as much as people out in the backwoods of the Katoomba Blue Mountains, Cooma-Monaro Plains ACT, and so on.

  21. FTTN sceptic says:

    If FTTN is basically a staged stepping stone towards FTTP, wouldn’t this be costed in for long term plan?
    As such, what was proposed is that FTTN be the end all and stop at that.
    Given this plan basically always puts AU more than 10years behind technology, this would also mean that with completion of FTTN, it will effectively place AU more than 15-20years behind in terms of technological viability. With the FTTP plan, personal opinion, it will at least attempt to reduce the technological gap globally. This is why AU is almost always perceived to be technologically backward, there is no support to push AU to technological foreground, instead wait for the change to adapted in a passive rate that by the time it is adapted in mainstream, it is already a dinosaur to other developed countries.

  22. […] As Todd has been trying to say, there's a lot to get your head around- look at the big picture Why not FTTN? | NBN MYTHS Last edited by peter600; Today at 05:31 […]

  23. james says:

    This information is incorrect. FTTP has been completed in my area and cabinets are still required. In fact there is one outside my place!

    • NBN Myths says:

      They do use some cabinets for FTTP, but there are very few of them and they are very small. FTTN cabinets are required every few hundred metres along each street, and are about 8x the size of the FTTP cabinets. An FTTN cabinet is about the size of two fridges side-by-side.

  24. petzlx says:

    One in EVERY street?

    • NBN Myths says:

      That depends on how long the street is, and how far apart they put the nodes. If the eventual target is 100Mbps, then they need nodes about every 300 metres.

  25. […] United Kingdom) are replacing/upgrading their networks to FTTP. If we rolled out FTTN in Australia, we’d already be behind many other countries with similar requirements and socio-economic status to […]

  26. wdferj says:

    NBN Myths says: “In New Zealand, their relatively new FTTN network only delivers an average peak speed of 13Mbps for its users. This is only 40% higher than the current average speed available in Australia, and a fraction of the initial speeds available over a full FTTP network.”

    Really? Your quote above links to http://corporatereview.telecom.co.nz/fromtheceo which has this to say: “Our FTTN programme, bringing fibre and improved electronics closer to more homes, proceeded like clockwork. Over 2,000 roadside cabinets have been installed by Chorus around New Zealand, emblems of Telecom’s achievement. A million homes and businesses whose connection has been upgraded through this programme, now have access to an average download speed of around 13Mbps. Just how good is that? In South Korea, recognised as the world leader, the average speed experienced by customers is around 14.5Mbps.

    So the only country you can cite as having a full FTTP network (South Korea) and the world leader – has an average speed of 14.5Mbps, while good old NZ Telecom has deployed FTTN to a million premises in a couple of years with an average speed of 13Mbps.

    Meanwhile here in Oz, four years and $10 billion since initiatiing the NBN, 5 premises in the NT have been connected, a handful in Tasmania and a smattering elsewhere. If we had invited Telecom NZ to rollout their FTTN here instead, the roll-out would be complete and we’d be sitting pretty, ready for the VDSL2+ and G.Fast upgrade to 100Mbps – 1Gbps.

    By the way, what on earth is “average peak speed”? Seriously? average and peak in one? LOL

    • Scott says:

      Wow ignorance is bliss, Peak average speed – the average top speed one can expect for the relative disance. If you just went with the Average Speed, it would be far lower.
      Your also confusing mbps with actual Download speeds FTTN with NZ Telecom give customers an average connection of 13megabits which would equate to ~1.5Mbps so 1.5 compared to 14.5 is a huge difference. Or you could go the other way 13 comparared to 120 seems substantinal to me. Get your facts straight, also VDSL2+ also requries a second Copper cable to be installed, who is going to pay for this???
      And lastly one piece of Optical Fibre can easily offer 1000Mbs+, this is googles standard offering, FTTN will never reach this unless you keep adding more and more copper to carry the load.

  27. wdferj says:

    NBN Myths says: “But we are now in 2011. The short effective life of FTTN is becoming apparent, and countries which previously installed FTTN systems (like Germany, New Zealand and the UK) are now gradually replacing their networks with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).”

    I call bs.

    Germany: In 2013, with over 30 million DSL customers, Germany is one of the top DSL countries in the European Union. Germany has 0.51% penetration of FTTH/B Deutsche Telekom has stated it would invest EUR 6 billion for broadband roll-out in Germany using FTTN + VDSL2 vectoring and has in fact slowed its deployment of FTTH, stating that will only deploy FTTH in markets where it is profitable.

    In the UK just 0.06% of households subscribe to a direct fiber connection.


    “BT has unsurprisingly abandoned their original 2009 commitment to make ultrafast fibre optic FTTP broadband ISP services available to 2.5 million premises in the United Kingdom and will instead focus on the more economical FTTC solution. In reality it’s somewhat well known that the FTTP project didn’t go quite according to plan, which is reflected by the fact that, at the end of 2012, the service had passed just 100,000 premises. Several 2011 trials showed that it could take 7 hours and two engineers to install the service (here), or sometimes longer, into a single home (the target was supposedly around 2 hours).”

    New Zealand’s roll out of FTTH is only to major urban areas (i.e. urban areas with a population of 10,000 or more) covering 75% of the population. It is being run by private sector companies, not the government, with government subsidies. However big question marks now hang over the ability to finance the build with the companies facing financial problems. Why? The rollout has passed 134,000 premises but only 3800 customers have signed for fibre services, the rest preferring the cheaper FTTN service, a disastrously low take-up rate – less that 3%.

    • NBN Myths says:

      Nice (if typical) out of context comments you have there.

      The fact is that Deutsche Telekom Germany has (at most) allowed VDSL2+vectoring to delay their FTTH rollout. Of course, they have the ‘advantage’ over Australia in that they own the copper network. Would they make the same decision of they had to buy the copper network before they could do VDSL2, or would they go straight to FTTH?

      The next paragraphs in the article you quoted about Germany say:

      “However, Deutsche Telekom was clear to emphasize that they are not abandoning FTTH and in fact believe that 50 percent of the CAPEX used for the FTTC + Vectoring will be applicable to FTTH networks in the future with FTTH being the long-term target for the wireline network.

      In fact, I have never had a single discussion with a fixed line operator in any region that concluded with a decision to abandon FTTH in favor of VDSL2 Vectoring. Delay is perhaps the key word.”

      My bolds. Did you stop reading, or just decide to leave out the bit that doesn’t support your argument?

  28. dave says:

    I have moved to a new estate where there is ONLY ” fibre to the home” (FTTP). Comparing the price/data allowance ratios between FTTP and FTTN plans are mind blowing- The FTTN plans are so much more expensive than the FTTP plan excluding the price for phone line rental. Hey Abbott, what happened to providing a cheaper access to fast internet?? FTTN plans have to be bundled with a phone line… WTH- hardly anyone uses a phone line nowadays!! Cost + more costs= SHIT

  29. oneputt2013 says:

    Hi Dave. Sorry to hear your bad news. All we can say is “Thank You” to Telstra and successive Governments that handed them a monopoly on “the last mile”. The current rabble have effectively handed the Internet back to “son of Telstra” via the NBN Co. Dr Z and his staff will now use their previous experience at Telstra creating a charging model to bleed us dry while other countries get cheaper and cheaper access to global information. If you think they’re looking after our interests ….. watch their bank balances ;-)

  30. […] to be delivered in a heartbeat. To be clear, this requires a FTTH (fibre to the home) network, anything inferior than this model is a waste of investment ie. FTTN (fibre to the […]

  31. Technically, the current “mini exchange” system telstra has been installing for the last decade or more, is essentially FTTN. A fast’ish backbone connecting to a small cabinet, from which copper goes to the users. Considering the FTTN model in that context makes it a complete waste of money, since FTTN is slower and more costly than adsl in that configuration. Nobody will pay MORE for less. The only person winning here is Telstra shareholders.. of which the currently liberal appointed NBN co chairperson; ziggy is likely still a near majority telstra shareholder, and I would suspect most of the liberals superfunds have telstra shares too. Conflict of interest much?

  32. David L says:

    I don’t know if Ziggy still holds many shares, but I certainly do, so I’m not unhappy with Conroy’s very generous 65 billion dollar deal for structural separation.

  33. Apalled says:

    I’m really pleased to see our Government feeding tax-payer money into Telstra (sarcasm). Maybe they could do the same with Optus and Vodafone; but tell us first so we can all buy shares. Once upon a time Telstra’s profits went INTO our Government coffers. Now they’re coming OUT. Hey why don’t they take ALL the tax-payer funds and farm it out to ALL companies; why limit it to Telstra? BHP and Rio could do with a bit of a hand too. Their effective tax rate is almost a disgustingly high 13%. I’m glad I’m handing over my 48.5 + GST on everything I buy so “our” Government can give it to Telstra.
    Yes I hold Telstra shares too and I’m not easy with what’s going on. It’s a clear conflict of interest to have a major Telstra shareholder deciding on our national infrastructure. Enjoy your dividends; Hang the country!

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