NBN fibre to the node restricts open access, report says

NBN Co's confidential advice to the incoming government was that fibre to the node would restrict users to only one ISP, where fibre to the premises was more versatile.

NBN Co's confidential advice to the incoming government was that fibre to the node (FTTN) would restrict users to only one ISP, where fibre to the premises (FTTP) was more versatile.

(Credit: NBN Co)

The technical limitations of VDSL technology and the Coalition government's proposed fibre-to-the-node roll-out impact negatively on open access and digital government initiatives, according to a confidential NBN Co report sighted by ZDNet.

The limitation that arises from VDSL technology is that running two independent virtual circuits for different data, IPTV or voice services, would create interference, eliminating the possibility of using one house's FTTN connection for multiple internet services simultaneously. This would mean that users would not be able to purchase a subscription to an IPTV service like FetchTV as well as an internet connection from an ISP, unless that IPTV service was offered through that ISP as well.

This restriction sits contrary to the open access objectives of the National Broadband Network, which was initially designed to operate without restriction or prejudice and which had provision for up to four simultaneous services over its fibre-to-the-premises network.

The FTTN network's architecture "would therefore limit the end-user to only one service provider relationship," NBN Co's assessment warned. "This could impact future innovation." Similarly, the inferior maximum guaranteed speed potential of FTTN is covered in the report: "FTTN solutions are unable to provide significant amounts of guaranteed bandwidth," the confidential document warns.

Not having the ability to enable more than one service simultaneously over FTTN restricts the potential for non-internet service providers, such as IPTV providers like Quickflix, Foxtel and FetchTV, to offer a service over a FTTN NBN that is complementary to internet access.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull quickly dismissed the report, saying it was out of date and was "totally political". A decision on the future design of the NBN is expected in the coming weeks.

 

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