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Both use a combination of fibre optic and copper cable, but FTTB is generally used when wiring up a multi-dwelling unit such as an apartment block or office building.
Both FTTB and FTTN use nodes to connect the NBN’s newer fibre optic lines with the older copper lines that the internet currently uses.
The key difference is the location of the node. While FTTN nodes are usually found in boxes on the street, FTTB nodes are located inside the premises – usually in a secure cabinet in a communications room. This cabinet, also referred to as the main distribution frame (MDF), contains individual network access points for each tenancy, apartment or office.
FTTB uses the same technology as FTTN and both are part of the Multi Technology Mix (MTM) approach to the NBN.
The distance between their connection and the FTTB node is usually much shorter than the distance from their connection to an FTTN node, which averages 450 metres of copper serving an end-user's premises. The shorter FTTB distance translates into a lower risk of signal loss due to things like line interference.
Another major MTM technology being rolled out is Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC). Unlike FTTB/FTTN, it makes use of the coaxial copper cable traditionally used for digital pay TV services.
If you're lucky, you'll be in an area that has Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). FTTP uses fibre optic cable all the way to your NBN connection box, eliminating most of the speed and stability issues of copper.
The only piece of equipment you'll need before connecting to the NBN with FTTB is a VDSL2 compatible modem/router. This plugs into your home phone line using an RJ11 phone cable, which is usually bundled with the router.
If your existing ADSL modem is not VDSL2 compatible, a number of 24-month FTTB NBN plans come with a free modem, although there may be a delivery charge. You might also be able to purchase one from your service provider if you're on a month-to-month plan. All the latest modems should allow you to connect to the internet using an ethernet cable or Wi-Fi.
Overall, FTTB is one of the cheapest and easiest NBN connections to set up. Thanks to its proximity to the NBN's fibre optic fast lanes, it can also offer some of the best performance.