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What is OptiComm?
The OptiComm network provides an alternative to the NBN for Aussies wanting high-speed fibre Internet.
If you're familiar with the term "fibre broadband", odds are you associate it with the NBN. Fibre is the technology at the heart of the National Broadband Network, replacing or working in conjunction with the old copper-wire ADSL network laid down by Telstra many years ago.
However, in reality fibre technology has been around since long before the NBN rollout began. Independent telecommunications companies were starting to build their own fibre networks as far back as the mid-2000s, supplying new residential and commercial estates with high-speed, fibre-optic broadband via dedicated fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections.
OptiComm is one such company. From 2009, the network carrier has provided select communities around the nation with high-speed broadband far superior to traditional ADSL and cable services. Today, it serves as a wholesale provider of non-NBN fibre broadband for telcos like Exetel, Activ8me and Harbour ISP, supplying eligible Aussies with a forward-facing alternative to the National Broadband Network.
How does OptiComm work?
Like the NBN, the OptiComm network operates over fibre-optic cables laid underground. But while the NBN incorporates older technologies like Telstra's copper network and coaxial cable to offset the cost of laying fibre across the country, OptiComm is 100% fibre from start to finish – hence the term "fibre to the premises".
In practical terms, this means faster and more reliable Internet with room to scale above the 100Mbps many NBN connections currently top out at. Unfortunately, it also means the OptiComm network is growing at a far slower rate than the NBN. Without the financial support of the government, OptiComm is focusing solely on new estates and housing developments where no previous network infrastructure exists since it is cheaper and easier to install fibre in these locations.
What speeds does OptiComm support?
Fibre-optic technology is capable of extraordinarily fast speeds and researchers continue to push the envelope of what is possible to this day. The top-tier 100Mbps connections common to residential Internet services barely scratch the surface of what fibre can offer, and it's here that the differences between OptiComm and the NBN are most apparent.
Because many NBN connections mix fibre with copper and cable infrastructure, their maximum speeds are bottlenecked by the capabilities of older technology. OptiComm, on the other hand, operates entirely over fibre and as such can support the full potential of fibre Internet.
For example, some OptiComm providers offer speeds of up to 1000Mbps for downloads and 400Mbps for uploads. This is far in excess of what the NBN currently offers.
OptiComm operates much the same as the NBN's fibre to the premises (FTTP) service. Both offer an end-to-end fibre solution with similar speeds and pricing – the only real difference is the network carrier building and maintaining the fibre infrastructure.
The two key differentiators between OptiComm and the NBN are access technology and availability. As mentioned above, OptiComm and NBN FTTP are functionally identical, but the NBN makes use of a variety of connection types including fibre to the node (FTTN), hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) and even non-fibre technologies like fixed wireless. These connections are slower than both NBN FTTP and OptiComm, to the point where some cannot even support 100Mbps. Depending on the technology used, then, an NBN connection might be flat-out incapable of matching the performance of OptiComm.
On the flip side, OptiComm is only available to a fraction of the population whereas the NBN is rolling out nationwide. Even if you're not eligible for the NBN yet, you will be within the next few years. The same cannot be said of OptiComm. Unless you're moving into a new or recently developed estate, odds are OptiComm will not be available to you.
OptiComm is only available in select new or recently developed housing and commercial estates. You can view current and upcoming OptiComm-serviced communities by using the map below:
Which providers offer OptiComm fibre plans?
The following Internet service providers currently offer OptiComm plans:
- Brennan IT
- City Communications
- Clear Broadband
- Commander Broadband
- Connected Australia
- Harbour ISP
- Origin Net
- Summit Internet
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