NBN FTTC: Everything you need to know

11 December 2017

Work on the NBN

FTTC is the latest acronym to grace the NBN world. Short for Fibre-to-the-Curb, the connection type is the newest technology being used to build Australia's National Broadband Network. And it also happens to be one of the most exciting. 

If you're connecting to the NBN using FTTC, fibre will be laid directly your property's kerb (a distribution point), and the final connection to your house will be made with your existing copper phone line.

Since only a couple of metres of copper are needed for an FTTC connection, you won't lose any speed over it. 

Fibre To the Curb Connection Map

This essentially makes FTTC a better version of Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN), where fibre is laid to a central node in the neighbourhood, which you connect to using as much as a kilometre of copper. 

Using large lengths of copper can result in speed degradation: you have to be within 400 metres of your neighbourhood's node to have any chance of actually maxing out your internet speeds. Since an FTTC will use a comparatively tiny amount of copper, you won't see any speed degradation due to distance. 

The small amount of copper also means FTTC connections are more flexible. With future upgrades, NBN Co says FTTC will be able to achieve speeds of up to 1Gbps, which is ten times as fast as the current maximum NBN speed. 

Over one million premises will connect to the NBN using FTTC. The first 200,000 premises to be connected via FTTC are largely located across New South Wales and Victoria.

FTTC is also referred to as Fibre-to-the-Kerb or Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp). Since FTTC is an international standard, NBN Co uses "curb" rather than the the more Australian "kerb". 

When will FTTC be available?

NBN started building FTTC connections in the middle of 2017, ahead of a launch in early 2018.

How much will FTTC cost?

As with the rest of the National Broadband Network deployment, NBN Co will cover the cost of your initial connection. After your premise is connected to the National Broadband Network, you will need to sign-up with a NBN reseller. 

When it comes to fixed line NBN plans, pricing is typically the same regardless of the technology type a home or business is connected with. In most cases, you'll pay a little extra per month for a faster connection.

If you're not taking up a 24-month contract, most telcos will charge you an additional setup fee. This is typically around the $100 mark. 

What equipment will I need for a FTTC?

When you connect to the National Broadband Network over FTTC, you'll need a NBN Connection Device and a wireless router. NBN Co will provide the NBN Connection Device, while your internet service provider typically provides you with a router. 

The NBN Connection Device will require a power outlet and a connection to a telephone wall socket using a RJ11 cable. You'll use an Ethernet cable to connect the Connection Device to your wireless router, which connects to your other devices, as well as your NBN compatible telephone. Your wireless router will also require a power outlet. 

Equipment used for a FTTC NBN connection

In most cases, NBN Co will not need to do any work inside your home to setup your FTTC connection. 

How fast is FTTC?

Initial FTTC connections will allow typical NBN download speeds of up to 100Mbps. However, when combined with G.fast technology, speeds of up to 1Gbps are possible, making FTTC far more future proof.

Why was FTTC introduced?

FTTC was first introduced a replacement for Optus' Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable network. NBN has confirmed that it will deploy FTTC in areas where the use of Optus' HFC network was planned, with the exception of the already launched network in Redcliffe, Queensland.

Leaked NBN documents published by Fairfax last year revealed internal concerns about the quality of the Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable, describing it as "not fully fit for purpose". The documents suggested that some Optus equipment had reached the end of its life and would need replacing, and that network was congested due to over-subscription.

Since adding FTTC to its roster of technologies, NBN Co has expanded the scope of the FTTC roll out, and it will be now be used instead of FTTN in select areas. 

What is G.fast?

G. fast is a new technology similar to DSL for carrying faster broadband signals over existing copper wires. This achieved by adding spectrum to copper, which could be seen as the technology equivalent of adding additional lanes to a highway.

The G.fast standard ostensibly allows the NBN to get more mileage out of old copper. When testing with G.fast in a Fibre-to-the-Building deployment, NBN was able to achieve speeds of 600Mbps across a 100 metre stretch of 20 year old copper.

G.fast was designed for copper lines shorter than 250 metres, so it is ideal for a technology like FTTC, but would not necessarily provide much of a speed benefit to a FTTN deployment.

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