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A complete guide to NBN Fibre to the Node (FTTN)
As broadband users begin switching to the NBN, many will plug into the network using a Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connection.
But what is FTTN, and how does it differ from the other technologies of NBN and regular broadband?
What is FTTN?
FTTN is a relatively cheap and easy type of NBN to install. It simply connects the next-generation fibre optic lines of the NBN to the existing copper network which runs into your home or building. The connection ‘node’, where the NBN meets the copper network, is typically a cabinet in the street. Each node should be capable to service up to 384 homes1.
How is FTTN different from other NBN types?
The connection between FTTN and the NBN’s fibre optic network should make it faster than the traditional copper-based broadband that you’re probably used to. It’s one of several technologies in the NBN Multi Technology Mix.
FTTB and FTTN are similar as they both use copper lines, but FTTB connects directly to the building, as opposed to the node servicing the area, and is commonly used for apartment complexes. FTTP uses fibre optic cable, rather than copper, from the node to your home. HFC uses your existing pay TV or cable line to connect your premises to the NBN.
How fast is FTTN?
The NBN currently provides three basic download speed tiers: 25Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps. For FTTN customers, NBN studies have shown that full 100Mbps download and 40Mbps upload speeds are achievable provided you are within 400 metres of the node2.
Actual performance will beaffected by many factors, including the quality of the copper line, equipment used on the premises, the plan you choose, signal quality, Wi-Fi, cabling and the service provider’s configuration and management of their own network.
There are plans for FTTN to integrate with next-generation G.fast technology (an upgrade of VDSL2), giving users access to speeds of up to 1Gbps according to the NBN3.
Who can access FTTN?
If you have access to an existing copper line, you’ll most likely be able to access the NBN through FTTN once it’s available in your area. Users who want to switch to an alternative NBN technology (such as Fibre to the Premises) can apply for an Individual Premises Switch4.
Individual Premises Switches can be expensive, costing $660 for a build quote, and up to tens of thousands of dollars to install the infrastructure. To reduce the per person cost of the application, you could consider organising an application from a group of premises, such as a block of flats.
Does FTTN require additional equipment?
FTTN NBN doesn’t require the installation of any new equipment in your home, but you’ll need a VDSL2 (Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line)-compatible modem. Many 24-month NBN plans [Link to NBN plan article] include a VDSL2 modem free of charge. Alternatively, if the plan is month-to-month, the cost of the modem may be rolled into the initial set-up fee.
The modem will also require its own power source, so you’ll need a 240V outlet close by. Once your connection is installed, you’ll be ready to enjoy the fast and reliable FTTN NBN.
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