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NBN connection types

Ever wondered what type of NBN you have? Find the answer here and how the different types of connections work.

What you need to know

  • Where you live determines what NBN connection type you have.
  • You do not get to choose which one to use to access the NBN.
  • The only exception to this is if you currently have an FTTN connection, your address may be eligible for a fibre upgrade to FTTP.

NBN connection types are not made equal. Your home connects to the NBN network based on the technology that has been set up in your area. Each type determines how fast and reliable your connection can be. We're here to help you understand your technology type and the factors that influence the speeds you receive at home.

What are the types of NBN connections?

There are 7 NBN connection types in Australia:

  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN)
  • Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC)
  • Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)
  • Fibre to the Building (FTTB)
  • Fixed wireless
  • Satellite (Sky Muster)

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

Fibre to the Premises or FTTP is a fixed-line NBN connection that uses high-speed fibre optic cables all the way from the NBN node to a connection box on your house.

Set-up and installation required: The NBN connection box requires power to operate and can only be installed by a professional.

Fibre to the Node (FTTN)

Fibre to the Node connects you to the NBN by using the nearby fibre node's copper phone and internet network. Picture it like this: a street cabinet acts as the fibre node.

The NBN signal travels from the exchange to the cabinet through a fibre optic line. From there, it hooks up with the existing copper network to connect with your place.

Set-up and installation required: You only need a compatible modem to connect via this method and don't need a technician to install anything.

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC)

With an HFC connection, it basically means the existing pay TV or cable network is used to hook you up to the NBN network. An HFC line (a coaxial cable) from the closest fibre node will run right to your place.

Set-up and installation required: You'll need to have an NBN network device installed where the line comes into your home, which needs power to work. This can be either installed by a professional or by you.

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)

In an FTTC connection, fibre optic cables are run from a node to a pit somewhere outside on the street. One node may service several properties, with the final connection being via the existing copper network.

Set-up and installation required: An NBN connection box requiring power is needed for this connection type. An installer can set this up, or in some circumstances you may be able to set it up yourself.

Fibre to the Building (FTTB)

A Fibre to the Building (FTTB) connection is mainly used to connect an apartment block or similar types of buildings to the NBN. Here, fibre optic cables are run to a box in your building's communications room, most likely in the basement somewhere, then connected to the rest of the building via existing technology.

If your building is old, this is likely to be copper wires, but newer buildings could have ethernet cables.

Set-up and installation required: A compatible modem is all that is required to connect this, with no equipment needed to be installed by a technician.

Fixed wireless

Fixed wireless connects you to the NBN through radio signals rather than fibre optic cables. These signals are transmitted from a tower in your area to an antenna installed on your roof.

Set-up and installation required: An NBN connection box requiring power is needed for this and can only be installed by an approved technician.

Satellite (Sky Muster)

As the name suggests, you are connected to the NBN via a satellite dish.

Set-up and installation required: You'll need a satellite dish installed on the roof of your home as well as an NBN-supplied modem to be installed by a technician. This modem requires power to operate.

What type of NBN do I have?

To find out what technology is installed where you live, you can simply use Finder's NBN address checker. Input your address and we'll show you NBN plans available at your location, tailored to your NBN connection type.

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How does my NBN connection type affect my internet speed?

Different NBN connection types have different speed abilities and the NBN plan you select may have different speed options available.

While your NBN connection type is not the only thing affecting your internet speeds, it certainly sets a baseline.

FTTN/FTTC/FTTB

FTTN, FTTC and FTTB speeds are affected by the length and quality of copper line from your premises to the NBN hub. The longer the amount of copper wire, the more this is likely to negatively impact NBN speeds.

The fastest plan you'll usually get access to on these connection types is NBN 100. General advertised typical evening speeds may also be inaccurate for these connection types, especially for FTTN. Your chosen provider will usually confirm your typical speeds after you've activated your service.

FTTP/HFC

On the other end of the scale, those with FTTP or HFC connection types are currently the only ones eligible to sign up to the 2 fastest NBN speed tiers available – NBN 250 and NBN 1000.

Not all providers offer these higher-speed plans and some don't advertise a typical evening speed on their plans, so keep that in mind when you're comparing plans.

Fixed wireless

A fixed wireless connection generally only offers maximum speeds of 75Mbps. Factors that affect your speed if you connect to the NBN via fixed wireless include:

  • The distance of your premises to the fixed wireless tower and whether you have a clear line of sight to it
  • Weather conditions
  • How many households are connected to the same tower and the amount of usage from these households

Your internet provider will generally confirm with you what speeds are available at your place once the NBN set-up is complete.

Satellite

While you can get NBN satellite plans that offer wholesale download speeds of up to 100Mbps, the typical evening speeds on these plans are much lower. For plans offering this 100Mbps download speed, the NBN Co highlights a typical average speed is more likely to be 48Mbps.

That's because satellite connections are susceptible to many external factors which affect the speed. This includes:

  • The age and quality of your equipment
  • Signal reception
  • Congestion on the network (how many people are also using satellite internet at the same time)
  • Weather events (e.g. heavy rain can affect your satellite service)

While a satellite connection may reach the maximum wholesale speed stated, usually that is only "burst speeds", meaning it will perform at that speed for a short period of time only.

Which is the best NBN type?

Fixed-line NBN connections are generally considered the best NBN type as the quality and maximum speed of a fixed wireless connection is often more variable than fixed-line technology.

The less a copper network is used in an NBN connection, the better it's likely to be. Copper technologies can't achieve the highest speed capabilities of the network, so such connections are lacking.

That means you can expect the FTTP and HFC connection types to be the best. Neither of those use copper connections, as FTTP only uses the fibre optic network, while HFC uses coaxial cable in parts.

The December 2023 Measuring Broadband Australia report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that FTTP and HFC connections surpassed their plan speeds with an average download speed per service during peak hours.

Peak hours are usually the busiest time of the day for internet use, between 7pm and 11pm.

FTTP was found to reach 102.3% of plan speed, while for HFC it was 102.2%. With the scores of over 100%, that means it exceeded plan speeds. These were better results compared to FTTC and FTTN.


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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    SWJuly 12, 2017

    I’m from Victoria, roll-out map indicates my address ‘connected’ in purple while tracker says ‘there is still work to be done’. No idea why the discrepancies but would like to hear any opinion from an expert on the status or ETA of NBN deployment in my area.

    Thanks.

      Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 26, 2017

      Hello SW,

      Thank you for your inquiry today.

      I have checked our NBN Roll-Out Map and confirmed these results:

      nbnTM is expected to commence construction in some parts of this suburb within 3 years.

      Ready for Service: Not Available
      Disconnection Date: 08 Feb 2019
      Rollout Type: Fixed Line

      You may send an inquiry to NBN Co website to confirm the results.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

    Default Gravatar
    BarryDecember 23, 2015

    I own a unit in a Strata Title building and the NBN is getting close. I assume we will be supplied with FTTB, but I would like to have FTTP speeds.

    It is unclear whether FTTB will supply these speeds. Can you tell me if this is possible?

    Barry

      AvatarFinder
      KennethJanuary 13, 2016Finder

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for your question.

      NBN will guarantee speeds of at least 25/5 Mbps to all Fibre to the Basement (FTTB) premises and will also offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps / 40 Mbps on FTTB — subject to a service qualification check. The availability of these higher speeds depends on factors like the condition of the copper cable to your home and the distance to your assigned node.

      Once the NBN is available and you still find that the speeds achieved are inadequate for your needs, NBN also provides an option to upgrade the technology offering to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) at your own cost. This is known as the Technology Choice Program.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      Ken

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