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NBN Co's 'Fibre to the Curb' takes fibre closer to home

First we had Fibre to the Home, then we got Fibre to the Node. Now NBN Co is rolling out "Fibre to the Curb"...


NBN Co has announced it has gone live with Fibre to the Curb (FTTC), an industry first technology that takes fibre optic cable closer to home.

Miranda in New South Wales, alongside Coburg in Victoria, are the first two Australian suburbs to utilise the new technology. 

FTTC is a new technology that takes fibre optic cable to beneath the curb before connecting to the existing copper network in an attempt to deliver faster speeds for consumers. It uses reverse powered Distribution Point Unit (DPU) and Network Connection Device (NCD) tech and is being implemented by NetComm Wireless.

"This is new tech, this is the fastest you could have gone," Ken Sheridan, CEO and Managing Director of Netcomm Wireless, told CNET. "It's the first deployment in the world."

In a report released on 29 September 2017, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network recommended that Fibre to the Curb replace all remaining Fibre to the Node connections.

David Glance, Director of UWA Centre for Software Practice, University of Western Australia, participated in committees making the same recommendation.

"It was a technology that a number of us proposed as being the best compromise to FTTP when we participated in one of the senate committee enquiries a few years ago," he told CNET. 

Glance told CNET it was relatively easy to go from FTTN to FTTC, using skinny fibre extensions to distribution points outside the home, but the bad news: NBN Co is not planning to retro-fit existing NBN connections with the new technology.

"NBN Co has always maintained that they are not going to go back and upgrade all FTTN to FTTC," he said, "so some people with slow speeds who want faster connections are going to be out of luck.

"From NBN Co's perspective they need to concentrate on getting everyone onto the NBN first and then hopefully start rolling upgrades to technologies when appropriate."


The NCD device that will live in your home.


Sheridan confirmed that NBN Co did not plan to provide FTTC to suburbs with existing NBN connections.

"As I understand it," explained Sheridan, "they've already planned who's going to connect to Fibre to the Curb."

NBN Co plans to equip 1 million homes with FTTC technology by 2020.

"FttC can deliver the same 100Mbps speeds as fibre to the premise (FttP) technology but at lower cost, in much less time and with far less disruption to people's property," said Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on Sunday.

Right now FTTC is capable of wholesale speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. But Sheridan says there's potential for speeds to reach up to 1 gigabit per second using "copper acceleration technology". This would be possible without any inconvenience to users -- it requires changes to the curb connections only.

"That's the next wave," explained Sheridan.

The NCD devices given to users with FTTC technology installed are already capable of taking advantage of potential 1 gigabit per second speeds technology would allow.

Brad Whitcomb, NBN Co's chief customer officer, said the technology has been in testing for the past few months.

"Today's announcement," he said, "demonstrates that NBN Co is an adopter of new and innovative technologies to provide Australians with access to fast broadband."

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