Life Tech New NBN technologies to boost internet speeds for FTTC and HFC homes
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New NBN technologies to boost internet speeds for FTTC and HFC homes

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G.fast is good news for FTTC customers but 40 per cent of the NBN network will miss out on Gbps speeds. Photo: Getty
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New technology will be delivered to Australians receiving fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) over the National Broadband Network rollout, promising to deliver much faster internet speeds.

G.fast is the latest technology with gigabit-per-second (Gbps) speed potential to be introduced to the NBN’s multi-technology mix, via FTTC and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) connections.

It adds to the pool of faster technologies being rolled out to the HFC portion of the network from late 2018, as well as the superior fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).

Together, these have the potential to provide about 40 per cent of the overall NBN network with speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

However, it is unclear whether the entire FTTC network will receive G.fast, with NBN Co indicating it would be rolled out only in cases where “ultra-high speeds are required”.

Another 40 per cent of Australians on fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) will also not be able to achieve Gbps speeds without having to first foot the bill for an “upgrade” to FTTC.

What is G.fast?

G.fast is a new technology that accelerates internet speeds over copper lines and has been adopted by global operators, including AT&T in the United States and BT in Britain.

An NBN Co statement claimed G.fast could lift maximum speeds past 100 Mbps and up to one Gbps. This means the connection should cope better during peak times, providing more reliable internet.

Speeds of 600 Mbps were achieved during G.fast trials in October 2015 on a 20-year-old, 100-metre stretch of copper cabling, according to NBN Co. Further testing is to be conducted before its launch next year.

RMIT University’s Mark Gregory, an associate professor in network engineering, said that lengthening (FTTC) fibre from about 300 metres to within 80 metres from the home should be able to achieve Gbps speeds.

“G.fast (FTTC) should produce speeds of 500 Mbps which is about 10 times faster than the average FTTN connection,” he told The New Daily.

“It’s absolutely exciting news for that 10 per cent of houses (FTTC/B) that are too far away from a node and whose only other option would have been fixed wireless or satellite.”

Another 20 to 30 per cent of the network, those on HFC, will be able to access faster internet via DOCSIS 3.1 technology which would reach “comparable speeds” to those on G.fast over FTTC, he said.

So about 40 per cent of users – FTTP, FTTC and HFC – should have the ability to achieve faster speeds.

The first FTTC trial was announced on Monday before a Four Corners investigation identifying the shortcomings of Australia’s NBN rollout compared with New Zealand’s equivalent broadband network.

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NBN critics say internet congestion during peak times is one of the main problems. Photo: Getty

International polling company Ipsos this week ranked Australia last out of 28 countries in terms of internet broadband satisfaction.

About 32 per cent of Australians reported their internet satisfaction as being “fairly or very good” – 24 per cent below the global average.

In a statement, NBN Co chief strategy officer JB Rousselot said G.fast over FTTC and FTTB would be “faster and more cost effective” than connecting properties to full fibre (FTTP).

“Our FTTP and HFC end-users already have the technology to support Gigabit services and adding G.fast over FTTC provides the upgrade path for our FTTN end users to ultimately receive Gigabit speeds too,” he said.

But RMIT’s Mr Gregory said the so-called “upgrade” for FTTN users (about 40 per cent of the network) would involve sending workers out to these sites to rip out copper wires and lay more fibre, all at the expense of the consumer.

“This comment is very misleading. G.fast doesn’t change the fact that FTTN has no upgrade path,” he said.

When contacted by The New Daily for clarification on the upgrade process from FTTN to FTTC and how much this is expected to cost end users, NBN Co refused to provide a comment on the record.

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