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 words, 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.

116 thoughts on “Why not FTTN?

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

    Cable bundles and crosstalk.


    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Absolutely agree. I just had some private paintwork done on my car whilst it was in at the panel beaters for an insurance job. They said it would save me money as they would already have the booths hired and the right paint available/mixed.

          Surely getting workman twice in the same location is economic insanity, not to mention technologically suicide.

          Lets do it right the first time, go with FTTP.

          1. The pace of technology changes is very rapid and often disruptive, usually with exponential increase in performance at lower cost. More likely than not, the pace is so fast that it makes “upgrades” or “stepping-stone” approach not a sensible choice. One could still recall the failed idea of putting special slot to make PCs “upgradable” ?
            FTTP is already matured, many countries are already running it, especially in Asia, many more are installing them now. Australia should do it right by going with FTTP instead.

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


    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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

          1. 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.

        2. 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?

          1. 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.

          2. 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/

      2. 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

  3. 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”.

    1. There are others. Miss-use of the Apostrophe. It’s means ‘It is’. In other word’s, Malcolm’s plan Its means belonging to it. Try ‘In other words… an s at the end of a word does not have an Apostrophe unless it is the Possessive Case as in another miss-use years’ or belonging to years.
      Strictly not spelling, just poor or lack of teaching at school.

      1. Thanks for picking up that obviously accidental typo. I’m well aware of how to use an apostrophe, thanks. You’ll notice that it was the only such instance of such positioning in the article. You know what they say about people in glass houses though? You might want to check the rules surrounding the use of ‘miss’ as a prefix. The correct term is misuse (drop the 2nd ‘s’ and no hyphen). Also, no need to capitalise Apostrophe or Possessive Case.

  4. 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"

  5. 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.

    1. There not a large fridge size at all and are not placed close to any road kerbs to cause risk to drivers and certainly not pedestrians.

      There are risk assessment procedures to follow when positioning these Nodes.

      Also FYI,
      – A site boundary survey (if that’s what you mean) or Topo survey isn’t required.
      – Yes the relevant council and sometimes land owners such as MainRoads have to be notified of the locations of the Node cabinets.

    1. I don’t see any mention in main stream media about the Tory fest held in Melbourne last night to kiss Rupert Murdochs big bad bastards arse
      Murdoch likes owning Australian Prime Ministers.

      Q: What has Tony Abbott promised Murdoch?
      A: A broadband network that will be so slow as to offer no competition to his pay TV interests.

  6. 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?

    1. 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

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

        1. Timiboy,

          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).

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

          3. …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.

          4. 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.

          5. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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%.

        2. Australia is heavily urbanised, but that urban space is not generally high density. Very suburban, with relatively large blocks. As an example, I lived in Rotterdam, in Holland for some time. Rotterdam is a city of 600,000 people, the majority of whom live within 5km of the centre, The Hague, another city, is just 20km away from Rotterdam. Brisbane, by comparison, is approx 100km across. It has roughly the same population as Rotterdam & The Hague, in an area 25 times the size. Not dense living by international standards.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

      3. 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.

    3. New Zealand

      New Zealand

      1:3 government:private

      Nation wide (80%)

      Very low. Lots of deployment in small towns.

      1. I wouldn’t call “80%” nationwide. Even Vodafone has better coverage than that!

        1. Around 20% of New Zealand lives in a “center” of less than 1,000 people, these small towns tend to be quite sparsely populated as well (big lots, difficult geography).

          Also, as UFB only encompasses FTTH – your Vodafone comparison doesn’t fit because Vodafone can easily cover large swaths with wireless.

          A separate RBI program works in smaller areas, with the aim of providing “broadband” to all but a few thousand homes (FTTN upgrades or wireless).

  7. Sharlee Harley 3 July, 2013 — 8:13 am

    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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  8. 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

    1. 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.

      1. stuck in no man's land 9 September, 2013 — 7:00 pm

        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….

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

    1. It’s the distance from the node, i.e.: the length of the copper is the limiting factor.

      1. Negative, cable gauge is a factor as well.

        1. True, as is the condition of the copper (corrosion, joints etc)

  10. Will exchange jumper runners have a job in either case?

  11. What will now happen with new PM?

    1. FTTN will happen, if they stick to their policy. I’ll be adding a new page to this blog soon, to keep track of the promises and delivery of the new Government’s policy.

    1. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

    1. Get your head out of the sand it will cost $40 billion + to roll-out FTTN compared to $36 billion for FTTP and they are not compatible can’t just replace from the node when time to upgrade as the technologies are vastly different. I live in regional WA nearly 1000kms from Perth and get ADSL2+ speeds which is 25 mbs.

  15. 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.

    1. “It is already a dinosaur to other developed countries.”
      Really? Name these “other developed countries”

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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. That would make the street so cluttered!!! guess how long (if/when implemented) before ppl cry ‘eyesore’?

    1. Something wrong with above link try this

  17. 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

    1. 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.

  18. 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%.

    1. 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?

  19. 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

  20. 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 😉

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. I’m a certified network engineer with many other trades behind me I’m 100 % in favor of your comments is there there any one in our government with any IT or Communications back ground I wonder if they allowed what is rolling out for nbn now , you can’t even ring nbn and talk to anyone .

  25. Q: What has Tony Abbott promised Murdoch?
    A: A broadband network that will be so slow as to offer no competition to his pay TV interests.

  26. Just because FTTP is a better solution for infrastructure doesn’t mean it’s a better solution for real people. I have an internet-based business and cannot wait 10 years for a roll out of infrastructure. So by the time im dead and buried there might be FTTP. what a waste of time discussing this type of rollout scheme. 10-15 years is 4-5 turnovers of government in leadership so the FTTP crap you are going on about may not even happen, or get swayed by large corporate greed. The corporations pay the government to get what they want passed. They call them campaign contributions and that makes it legal. I don’t care what the scheme is as long as I can get off of limited bandwidth. People in the city should come use my internet for a day and see how much they moan then. 5Kbps download during the day 250-450Kbps at night after 12 midnight. Im supposedly on a 6Mbps download / 1Mbps upload connection. Ive got 90%+ signal on sat dish, so not signal problems. We are already 10 years behind and taking 10-15 years to get infrastructure in place means we are still 10 years behind in technology. The FTTN/FTTP/NBN should have been started at least 5 years ago with a rollout in each town at the same time, not city people get 3tb 100Mbps or even 1Gbps and the country people have to pay for it. Even if I was on ADSL 2+ in town due to the fact that the town centre is classed as regional I would pay $20.00 per month more for the same service. How is that fair I have to pay for city people to have the infrastructure. BIAS rollouts only make angry customers and voters.

    1. Because you’re in a country area, you wouldn’t be getting FTTP (or probably FTTN) anyway. Under both Labor’s and now the Coalition’s NBN, you would be getting either LTE wireless or (most likely) access to the NBN’s long term 12/25Mbps satellite service. Although the Coalition objected to the new satellites being purchased, by the time they got into power they had already been ordered, so it was too late to stop them. Lucky you. The new satellites are slated for launch this year, which should improve your service considerably.

      On your other points… The NBN was rolled out in numerous rural, regional and city locations simultaneously. Unfortunately, it’s simply not practical to roll it out everywhere at the same time. There are not enough qualified workers for such a project. Building the NBN requires over 10 million premises connections, and millions of kilometres of cable installation.

      There was no city bias, and in fact many city people complain that money is being ‘wasted’ on doing regional areas before the cities are done. The NBN’s cross-subsidy means that metro users are subsidising rural users, not the other way around. The per-person cost of deploying satellite and wireless for regional/rural is substantially higher than FFTP/FTTN in metro areas.

      1. Fiber to the home is simple and easy to install and maintain.
        It is cheaper to maintain and is less affected by other install (air/con /electrical cables / machinery etc).
        it does not attract creatures (unlike cables like the 2″ cable eaten in bankstown by the mites).
        It lasts a life time and costs less per meter than copper.
        Our infrastructure needs to last a while and be competetive, while providing ease of management.
        FTTH seems currently to fit the bill.
        The air con needed for FTTN is not passive , it means you need 2-3 different teams to maintain and manage it.
        With a trial for a cost study put into any are , i believe the results (based on maintenance alone , would become apparent.
        We have companies such as HP putting all their eggs in one basket and developing fiber drives …..and indicator of what their network development is aiming toward.
        We should try getting ahead of the curve , or the least gtting with it).

    1. Don’t forget, the World’s Greatest Treasurer pointed out our relative position in the world. The A End!
      In this privileged position we get what the more developed countries over-produce and can’t sell. A friend of mine is in North Carolina and they are rolling out 1G where he lives, while NBN is rolling out 25M. (mind you 25M is better than Dial-up).
      I was getting 12M on copper-to-the-house before the area started using ‘Netflix’ which slowed it down to 1 or 2M at best. Buffering ad nauseam.

  27. I’m unlucky to be connected to fibre to the node 2 weeks ago. Migration failed and still without Internet and now being advised back to base alarms or medical alarms will not work in power outages for customers with fibre to the node connections as no battery back up supplied or compatible like fibre to the premises networks. Liberals should be held accountable!

  28. Please don’t vote that selfish Turnbull back in next election… He’ll be enjoying his FTTH whilst I suffer almost 1km away from a node 😦

  29. Upgrade everything now to FTTP. If it’s going to cost $15bn now to upgrade and (it’s not going to be), what will the price be 10 years down the track? I shudder to think. All this time, effort and money is wasted looking for “alternative solutions”…. but then again, isnt that what the govt is good for? Wasting time and money?

  30. NBN approached me to become an NBN contractor while labour was in power… The rates were an absolute joke. No doubt fibre is superior to FTTN but the roll out of FTTH is so huge it would not be finished until 2027. Millions of people would be stuck in technological limbo for way too long. The HFC network has a lot of life left in it. DOCSIS 3.1 will deliver 10Gbps in future versions. There was no need to replace the HFC network with fibre. A few thousand HFC users in the future will be able to use up all of Australia’s current overseas bandwidth.
    We need faster data speeds now and the reality is that FTTH will just take way too long and was many times more expensive than the original $42B originally touted.
    NBN FTTH is also not a business grade network which means businesses and Telcos are continuing to build their own fibre to their customers. Don’t discount wireless technologies either..
    I went to Mobile World Conference in Barcelona 2 years ago.
    One supplier was selling a 4G cell for US$900.. Just plug it into power and supply ethernet. It could quite happily service a 100m radius at speeds of 450Mbps and had capacity of around 1.5Gbps.. That was two years ago. By 2020 5G will be rolling out. Speeds of 10Gbps are in the pipeline, with each cell capable of 40Gbps. Don’t be surprised if the boxes still cost $900.
    Run the optic fibre down the street. 5G cell every 150m. We will be ready for the Internet of Things, and every house will have high speed broadband. Is FTTH over building?
    It currently costs the carriers around 50c per gig on 4G
    With 5G costs will drop 100 fold, and one wonders if that will be enough for wireless technologies to compete directly with FTTH

    1. So it’s better to go FTTN since FTTH will be too long to deploy in your opinion but it’s ok to wait for 5G ? Sounds quite strange right ?
      Wireless (5G) and wired connection are not comparable at all. They are both good but not for the same thing. Thinking that wired connection will be dead since 5G is coming really tells us you quite don’t get it.
      Also, FYI, deploying FTTN and FTTH is not that much of a price gap.

      Where I agree with you is that the zones covered by HFC should really not be a priority.

      But over all, the biggest joke is the wireless NBN on non remote location.

  31. Here is a complaint I tried to register with NBNCO this morning but unable to use this many characters.
    After waiting for with anticipation then receiving notification that our area was NBN ready we approached Telstra our phone and internet provider to have NBN supplied.
    We were informed that our area was only covered by satellite NBN (we are not remote so found this start very disappointing), we proceeded with the request I received a call from India to discuss our case with poor connection (very low volume) so I didn’t get much assistance there, a technician came when I was away for work and my wife was at home, she discussed the installation with him and asked for one thing that the dish went on the northern side of the roof, after installation my wife found that he had installed the dish on the southern side and a repetitive discussion was had over how he couldn’t put it on the northern side due to the raked roof, not realising my wife designed and had this house built so she continued to state that it could to which he kept saying I’ll explain so she took him to that part of the house and explained to him why the raked roof does not extend to that end of the house, “Oh” I’m told was the response but still attempted to make excuses (by the way the dish is facing north west over the crest of the roof so would make more sense to be on the northern side).
    He advised that our modem/router was far superior to the supplied one from Telstra (as I was of the opinion so had my wife ask) so didn’t change it. Now since we have called Telstra support and they advised to install the Telstra modem, this is the one they are familiar with I’m still not sure we can’t use the better one but as I was dealing with a call center in India and just wanted to get the thing working at that stage went along with their instructions.
    We now have NBN and have been using it for a few days now with no benefit noticed, the internet is no quicker! This obviously being the desired result is this due to it being satellite and not fibre (or even copper) I assume so, and now we have satellite phone as well that will be interrupted by interference but more importantly by power outages, as a Paramedic who works on call this is a major step backwards in service in 2016 not forward.
    Complaints listed:
    1) The installation onto the wrong side of roof needs to be changed with damage repaired to the previous standard.
    2) Internet speed no improvement noticed between Satellite and ADSL.
    3) Phone line now reliant on power and reception.
    4) Poor coverage with fibre network satellite used in non-remote areas.
    5) Inferior modem needed to install (? due to satellite phone through modem as well)
    I’ll take these up with Telstra (who I’m stuck with if I want rural mobile coverage in my travels with my job) as well but feel NBNCO need to address these issues or there is no point in people taking up this service as it diminishes from the service they would already have.

  32. https://delimiter.com.au/2016/02/15/nbn-blogger-predicted-fttn-congestion-seven-months-ago/
    The complainants typically see initial solid speeds through their new
    FTTN connections, but eventually, as their neighbours also start
    adopting the new platform, speeds start slowing to unusable levels
    during peak periods such as after business hours and on weekends.

    A number of the complainants have directly called for the return of
    their previous ADSL broadband service, which was delivering them more
    consistent speeds.

  33. Graeme TAylor 8 July, 2016 — 2:35 pm

    But the fiscal managers are in charge now. The grown ups. The liberals know what’s best for us because they already have most of the wealth. LOOK If Malcom says a demonstrably slow, inefficient and grossly over priced internet is what the country needs, he’s almost certinally right. He wears a blue tie AND lives in a mansion, also I heard he basically invented the Internet, and that sort if stuff can’t be untrue. The facts are; anyone who wants a future proof high speed intenet that allows a plethora of social gains and business enhancements for the Australian society is in my opinion at least, a total loser and they should just have a wash and shut up. Am i right??

  34. Not surprising Malcolm Turnbull chose this option. Being a lawyer for Kerry Packer helped Malcolm find true corruption. What a piss poor stupid and ill informed decision to make. Malcolm no doubt has a large amount of Telstra shares he wants value from. Telstra will be the only winner in this. Malcolm Turnbull will be remembered as Australia’s most stupid and selfish Prime Minister this country ever had. Turncoat lying bastard. Kerry Packers puppet lawyer. What a bitch.

  35. Now NBN are saying they are going to roll out FTTC. Must have realized FTTN is not working well for anybody. I’m willing to give that a try, but their pricing model also needs work – ISP’s are starving their customers of bandwidth thanks to NBN’s greedy pricing.

  36. I just got FTTN at my home, it fluctuates from 25 mb to 5 mb, so what a waste of money the Australian taxpayer has bought all thanks to a liberal government, but I can’t blame the liberals. It is the people who voted for them who are to blame

  37. Interesting article from the IEEE Communications Society, please read in full. Here are a few quotes from the article to annoy the FTTP advocates:
    “The first country to promise, and then not deliver, fibre to all homes was the United States”.
    “The cost to replace [all DSL lines] with fibre would exceed 1.5 trillion US dollars”.
    “More than 1 Tbps of data speed, per twisted pair, may be possible in the future using the higher-order waveguide modes over a cable of twisted pairs”.

    So why should the world spend US$1.5t to get FTTP when FTTN over exisitng copper pairs can theoretically reach 100x the speed of the fastest NBN FTTP connections?

    For those who don’t know, the IEEE is the professional body responsible for very many communications standards that we take for granted, including the IEEE802.11 WiFi standard that everyone knows.

    1. The article isn’t ‘by’ the IEEE, it’s by a group of engineers who work at ASSIA, a company that owns many DSL patents. It was published as an opinion piece in an IEEE magazine. So not exactly a published, peer-reviewed, objective technical document.

      Interestingly, the only reference to the “1Tbps” potential for DSL, is from a speech given by one of the authors of the original article. No technical information has been provided or published. The statement in the article is extremely noncommittal: Finally, theory based on some limited available measurements have recently found that more than 1 Tbps of data speed, per twisted pair, may be possible in the future using the higher-order waveguide modes over a cable of twisted pairs, along with very powerful vectoring/MIMO processing. There’s a whole lot of maybe in that statement!

      You then go on to compare something that may be possible over copper sometime in the future, with what’s already implemented over FTTP right now. If you want to make comparisons, compare what copper does now versus fibre now, or what copper might do in the future with what FTTP might be capable of in the future. But I guess if you did that, your comparison wouldn’t look so attractive. Also, even using the optimistic 1Tbps figure, it’s only over 100m of copper. That’s not FTTN, it’s FTTB/FTTC. The NBN’s FTTN has copper loops of up to 500m in length.

      FTTN is dead. It’s become the trouble-plagued disaster we always said it would be. Even NBN Co have all-but abandoned it for FTTC instead, which is at least a decent alternative to FTTP. At least it keeps copper to a very short length and it’s an easy and relatively cheap upgrade to FTTP in the future if required.

      The IEEE and its fellows have published numerous articles supporting a move to FTTP.

      1. I am very impressed on how you attacked the integrity of the authors instead of their arguments. Even more so how you completely ignored most of the article, presumably because you have no plausible response. To help you, here are a few points that the authors made:
        – it is the cost of replacing copper by fibre that has delayed the promises of fibre to everyone’s home for over 40 years
        – vectoring technologies allow speeds up to several hundred megabits/second (on each residential connection independently)
        – a neighbourhood twisted-pair bundle with a vectored set of 100 DSLs actually carries a higher data rate than a GPON system (and certainly more than a DOCSIS 3.1 system) would to the same homes covered
        – G.fast, 212 MHz G.fast, and G.mgfast increase speeds up to 800 Mbps, 2 Gbps, and 5-10 Gbps, respectively
        – 2 or more twisted pairs to the home, the so-called phantom-vectoring methods, can be used to transmit 10s of Gbps
        – Speeds of 100 Gbps can be achieved at distances over 300m, and speeds of 10 Gbps can be achieved at distances over 500m ( from Ref 8 in the article).

        In the 40 years that I have been working with optical fibre transmission systems, it is only now that we are getting 100 Mbps FTTP. It seems that if we were to wait a few more years (about the time that the NBN will be finished), we could have 10Gbps over 500m and at a tiny fraction of the cost of FTTP. Then millions of Australians will be able to download as much Amazon Prime as they want (provided of course that Amazon provide enough server capacity in Australia that millions of people can stream it at the same time). Such a wonderful use of the nation’s resources!

        Maybe I am unique in the world, but I would love some of that US$1.5t earmarked for transition from DSL to fibre to be instead spent on education, hospitals and a clean environment for my children to inherit, even if it means we get FTTN instead of FTTP. In comparison, you have never provided a single justification for spending so much money on what is mostly used for streaming Netflix QHD and pirated Hollywood movies.

        1. I’m not questioning their integrity Keith. However, you clearly promoted your link as being authoritative as it was “from the IEEE”, the “professional body responsible for our communications”. When it was, in fact, not from them but an opinion piece published in their magazine. You can’t use an appeal to authority without expecting it to be questioned. There are numerous communications experts, numerous fellows of the IEEE, who would not agree with the authors you quote.

          Yes, several of those DSL technologies do allow faster speeds over copper. However, they depend on bundles of sufficient size, multiple twisted pairs and copper in sufficiently good condition. Unfortunately, as Australian experts have been saying all along, our copper services are not in excellent condition. We are not achieving the speeds we ‘should’ be able to achieve because of this fact. Let me give you an example….. From my location, I should be able to achieve 18Mbps over ADSL2+. Yet I was only getting 8Mbps. After a fortunate incident involving power lines, Telstra replaced half the copper between the exchange and my house a few years ago. Now I get 13Mbps. Better, but still 5Mbps short. My copper is only 30 years old, which is far newer than most in Australia. It has undoubtedly been corroded, cut, joined, repaired, flooded etc, so many times that performance has been degraded. That’s the difference between what “may” be possible in a lab versus what’s actually possible in the real world.

          Several Asian countries have been getting 100Mbps FTTP for 15 years. Not exactly “just now” given your 40 year timeframe.

          Your cost comparison ignores the fact that achieving faster DSL speeds is not free. Even deploying our basic FTTN in Australia (i.e. using none of the proposed faster technologies), the cost of doing NBN FTTN is more than half the cost of FTTP. And comparable cost, according to NBN Co, with doing FTTC.

          Finally, you again confuse spending on the NBN. It is the users that pay for the NBN via their subscription fees. You can’t redirect that money to schools, hospitals etc, because without the NBN, that money wouldn’t be there. NBN’s own data shows that most FTTN connections can only achieve about 50Mbps. On that basis, FTTN reduces NBN’s potential income, because people won’t pay for 50 or 100Mbps speeds when they can only actually get 40. It matters not what they are using their connection for.

          You keep throwing scary-sounding figures for worldwide FTTP transition around, which are totally irrelevant to Australia. Yet ignore the costs upgrading copper to FTTN, not to mention the costs of the repeated upgrades to each faster DSL technology that follow in order to achieve performance that you’d get the first time from FTTP or FTTC.

  38. Tesltra trialed FTTP in Dapto in the late 80’s and did nothing with it…. At present the Bigpond Cable network is the best internet speeds i’ve seen I am getting 110mbps downstream all day every day

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