NBN’s copper bill hits $177.1 million

Most money spent on new links between pillars and node cabinets

NBN has revealed that as of 20 June, the company has purchased $177.1 million worth of copper materials.

In an answer to a question on notice from Senate Estimates hearings earlier this year, the company said that much of the material was not being used on remediating existing copper.

Instead it is being used for new links between existing telecommunications pillars and node cabinets, NBN said.

NBN’s most recent corporate plan estimates that some 51 per cent of connections on the National Broadband Network will be likely to employ some length of copper.

Copper is used for fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the building/basement (FTTB), and fibre to the distribution point (generally described by NBN as fibre to the curb or FTTC).

The company has continued to increase the number of premises it expects to connect using FTTC, which doesn’t employ nodes and relies on a substantially shorter length of copper compared to FTTN.

However, the company has indicated it’s not realistically able to ditch FTTN.

With FTTN connections, an average of 450 metres of copper is used to connect a home to a node. (Two-thirds of end-users are within 400 metres of the node used to connect them to the network, the company has said.)

With FTTC, copper is run from a house to a telecommunications pit on the street. There, the line is hooked into a distribution point unit (DPU). (Unlike nodes, DPUs are not independently powered; FTTC instead relies on power from an end user’s premises.)

NBN revealed today that more than 5.7 million premises are currently able to order services on its network, with around 100,000 more being connected every week.

The most recent figures including a technology breakdown revealed that as of end of March, 1.88 million premises have been hooked up using FTTN (NBN figures include FTTN, FTTC and FTTB in a single FTTN category), 351,000 had been connected with hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) and 1.48 million were connected with FTTP.

More than 413,000 households had NBN satellite services and 490,000 had fixed wireless connections (NBN revealed that in May fixed wireless covered half a million connections).

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