Finder to the Node: NBN prepares to go as it’s urged to help out with upgrade costs

Posted: 5 December 2018 1:58 pm

NBN Co lays down its first hardware while it's urged to take on some of the costs for those who want to switch up in our round-up of all the week's NBN news.

NBN Co readies trial units

The upgrade path for consumers currently living in NBN areas serviced by Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) has generally been accepted to be via the inclusion of technologies such as distribution units. In this past week, NBN Co started rolling out its first and VDSL2-capable distribution units in Rockdale in Sydney.

As ITNews reports, the Nokia and Adtran built units are being deployed now on a trial basis, but there's no timeline for when we might see faster FTTN or FTTC services offered under the new technology. 212 as used by the new units has impressive peak-speed qualities, albeit only for shorter distances of actual copper. ITNews quotes Peter Ryan, NBN Co chief network engineering officer as stating:

"By using higher-spectrum frequencies all the way up to 212 megahertz – compared to the (maximum) 17MHz used on VDSL2 – is able to deliver speeds all the way up to 1Gbps and beyond, albeit over short distances of around 100 metres."

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NBN Co urged to help shoulder technology upgrade costs

The Multi Technology Mix model of the NBN means that not all connections are equal in terms of peak speed, but you have no choice as to what's deployed in your area when NBN Co trucks roll into town. What you can do is opt for an upgrade under the NBN Technology Choice program, where you agree to pay the upgrade costs to a better class of NBN connection, all the way to full fibre if your bank account is hefty enough to bear the burden.

That's a burden that the government's 2018 regional telecommunications review reckons is a tad unfair, proposing instead that NBN Co bears some of the cost under a co-investment model. It states:

"Under NBN Co’s current Technology Choice model, the company appears to charge the applicant the full incremental costs of the technology upgrade where an existing NBN service, such as satellite, is already available in the area. Given NBN Co’s commitments to upgrading its regional networks, it makes sense to move to a co-investment model that could harness other sources of funding to bring forward scheduled upgrades or to enable unscheduled upgrades in areas that are a priority for the co-investors."

As the broadband network builder moves into the final phases of its rollout strategy, the review is also keen to ensure that regional telecommunications aren't ignored, stating:

"NBN Co should appoint specific members of the senior executive management team and the Board of Directors to take responsibility for upgrading and improving the fixed-wireless and satellite networks, as well as acting as regional advocates at the most senior levels of the company."

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Finder to the Node is a weekly round-up of all the latest news surrounding Australia's complex National Broadband Network.

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