NBN begins FTTC roll out

Trials in Coburg ahead of commercial launch next year

NBN has begun the roll out of fibre to the curb (FTTC), the company announced this morning.

The company is trialling the technology in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg to evaluate the construction and deployment of FTTC, ahead of the expected commercial availability of FTTC services in mid-2018.

FTTC involves deploying fibre much closer to a household than the fibre to the node (FTTN) technology that is also being used by NBN. Copper phonelines are still used for the final connection to a home or business, but fibre reaches the telecoms pit on the street. Fibre to the premises (FTTP) doesn’t use copper at all, instead running fibre all the way into a building.

NBN says it is the first broadband wholesaler in the world to roll out FTTC on a mass scale.

The company was originally planning to use it to connect 300,000 premises, mainly in places where it would be difficult to power the nodes required by FTTN.

The planned rollout expanded to encompass most of the suburbs that had originally been expected to be connected using Optus’ hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) infrastructure. That decision announced in September, expanded the footprint to 700,000 FTTC premises.

In April NBN’s chief network engineering officer, Peter Ryan, said that an additional 300,000 premises originally slated to receive FTTN would receive the technology. Last month NBN CEO Bill Morrow said that the company will be “making some announcements soon” about wider use FTTC.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that NBN is a world-leader in adopting new and innovative technologies to deliver fast broadband to Australians,” Ryan said in a statement.

“We will be focusing our efforts in the next few months on ensuring we understand how to scale the FTTC network rollout across the country and also working with our retail customers to trial the product in preparation for its launch next year.”

Ryan said that the larger than previously expected rollout of FTTC meant that the timeline for connecting some homes and businesses is likely to shift.

As of the end of May, more than 5 million premises were able to order National Broadband Network services. In total, NBN is aiming to hook up 8 million premises by 2020.

Earlier this month Morrow announced a number of changes to the company’s structure as the network rollout approaches the halfway mark.

As part of the changes, which kick in from 1 July, Ryan will lead a new Network Engineering and Operations team, combining the Network Service Operations department and the Network Performance Engineering team.

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