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NBN Co offers a 'Technology Choice': Faster speeds for a price

For Australians who aren't happy with the NBN speeds they'll get under a "multi-technology" rollout, NBN Co's Technology Choice program will now offer build upgrades -- for a price.


NBN Co has officially launched a pay-to-upgrade program, allowing individuals and communities to apply to speed up their broadband connection as part of the national rollout of the NBN.

The scheme, known as Technology Choice, was announced in November last year -- the same time that NBN Co confirmed it was officially killing its Fibre to the Premises rollout. From this time, any premises outside the initial FTTP rollout map were earmarked to receive other technologies such as Fibre to the Node and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial as part of a so-called .

However, recognising that "some individuals and communities may have specific needs for higher speed broadband" than what is offered under the MTM, NBN Co will now offer Australians the chance to upgrade their connection -- for a cost.

There are two options on the table, and NBN Co says the cost for upgrading "generally depends upon the size and complexity of the project."

An Individual Premises Switch will allow individual homes and businesses to upgrade their connection, with prices ranging "from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars." A group of neighbours in a street can also apply under this option.

The Area Switch option is designed for "councils, bodies corporate, state governments or business groups" and can include in the order of 150 to 350 premises. The cost of changing technology through this scheme "can range from tens of thousands of dollars to several millions of dollars" according to NBN Co.

In each case, fees are determined on a site-by-site basis, to factor in the difference between the planned technology for the area and the technology desired, with NBN Co saying it "will assess every application individually."

A list of fees charged to upgrade under the Technology Choice program. Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

There are also additional fees at each stage of the process, starting with an application fee of AU$300 for individuals and AU$1,000 for an Area Switch. For Individuals, once the application is assessed for eligibility, NBN Co will provide a "high-level range of estimated cost for the entire build" for a further AU$300. Finally, if applicants wish to go ahead with the upgrade, they can pay an additional fee for a detailed build quote.

NBN Co advises that though the initial high-level estimate may change, "the full quote provided after detailed design will be the final cost" of upgrading.

The company has also advised that towns and regional communities in Fixed Wireless and Satellite rollout areas will be able to apply for FTTN, though once again, this will come at a cost.