NBN launches fibre to the curb in two suburbs

Limited launch while company fine-tunes technology

Credit: NBN Co

NBN has announced the commercial availability of fibre to the curb (FTTC). More than 1000 homes and businesses in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg and the southern Sydney suburb of Miranda can now order FTTC services, NBN said.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that NBN Co is an adopter of new and innovative technologies to provide Australians with access to fast broadband,” NBN’s chief customer officer — residential, Brad Whitcomb, said in a statement.

“Over the past few months, we have been working closely with service providers to test our systems and processes, the performance of the NBN FTTC access technology, as well as the new self-installation experience.”

The NBN said executive said that the company had chosen to initially launch FTTC services in a limited footprint while it works to “optimise the customer experience”.

“Our decision to undertake a limited volume release means that a small number of homes and businesses will now have a new date for when they are able to connect to a service over the NBN access network – we will continue to update our website to provide people with the latest information,” he said.

NBN initially indicated it planned to connect around 300,000 premises using the technology. However, NBN currently expects to connect around a million premises using FTTC. The company is using the technology to hook up a number of premises that were previously expected to connect with fibre to the node (FTTN) or hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC).

Like FTTN, FTTC relies on copper wiring to connect to households. However, it relies on significantly shorter lengths of writing — and as a result can deliver significantly better peak performance than FTTN. In addition, it doesn’t rely on a powered node. Instead fibre is laid to the telecoms pit on a street outside a home.

Distribution point units (DPUs) from NetComm Wireless provide the interface between optical fibre and a copper pair. The company is also providing the Network Connection Device (NCD) installed in homes with FTTC connections.

“We are honoured to be NBN’s supplier on this important world first project,” said NetComm Wireless CEO Ken Sheridan.

“It is the product of Australian innovation and ingenuity and the benefits to Australian households and businesses will be profound. Having met NBN’s exacting technical and quality standards, our solution is receiving significant interest from leading telcos in global markets and leading to export sales.”

NBN has yet to reveal a date for resuming sales of hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) services after a November freeze triggered by poor end user experience.

Since implementing the pause to HFC sales, the company has largely been closemouthed about the technology though Whitcomb last month said that NBN would in April provide details around the “relaunch” of HFC.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow announced last week that he will leave the company before the end of 2018.

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