NBN Co eyes FTTN trial extension

Releases Q3 2014 product roadmap for National Broadband Network

NBN Co is set to expand the scope of its National Broadband Network fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) construction trial, according to the company’s chief customer officer, John Simon.

“The current FTTN construction trial of 1000 nodes in NSW and QLD is likely to grow into a ‘customer experience trial’ which will run in the first half of 2015,” Simon said as NBN Co released its product roadmap (PDF) for Q3 2014.

NBN Co plans to extend the FTTN trials through to the planned commercial launch in Q3 2015, he said.

“This means around 250,000 additional homes and businesses should to be able to connect to the network within the next 12 months – subject to the necessary agreements being finalised with Telstra.”

Under an FTTN pilot in Umina on the Central Coast of NSW, NBN Co has so far connected 40 participants, Simon said.

“Early results have been positive with some of our first end-users receiving average download speeds of up to 96 Mbps and average upload speeds of up to 30 Mbps in August 2014.”

Construction began in September on a second FTTN pilot in Epping, Melbourne, and NBN Co will work with several service providers in the coming months to run the pilot, he said. ISPs will contact end users to select participants, he said.

NBN Co is currently measuring customer experience of the home and businesses participating in a fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) pilot in Melbourne, Simon said. Testing will continue for next few months leading up to the planned commercial launch in Q1 2015, he said.

NBN Co had originally planned to build a fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) network that would see fibre connected directly to every home and business.

However, after the government changed hands in September 2013, the new Coalition Government advocated a multi-technology model (MTM) that would include FTTN, FTTB and HFC. FTTN uses copper to connect the premise to a neighbourhood box called a node. FTTB sends fibre to the basement of a multi-tenant unit (MTU) and connects each unit via existing copper.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow told a Senate committee last week that NBN Co had to move to MTM to meet the cost and time goals for the project.

“We would be happy to build a new network, rather than remodel an old one, but the fact that remains that … FTTP costs more and takes longer to build than what is expected of us.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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