The Australian Government’s plan to transform the National Broadband Network (NBN) initiative from a fiber to the home (FTTH) focus to one based on fiber to the node (FTTN) took a major step forward with the announcement that NBN Co, the organization responsible for rolling out the NBN, has reached an agreement with Telstra for FTTN construction. The deal will see FTTN deployed to approximately 200,000 homes and businesses across the country, the two parties say.
The current Liberal Government won election over the Labor Party last fall on a platform that included reshaping the NBN project, which it believes was too costly and time-consuming with FTTH as its foundation. The Liberal Government reiterated its commitment to change this past April (see "Government shifts Australia’s National Broadband Network away from FTTH"), and directed NBN Co. to make plans accordingly, including working closely with national incumbent carrier Telstra.
The new agreement includes provisions for a 1000-node FTTN trial. The trial will see FTTN deployments in the following municipalities:
- Belmont, New South Wales
- Bribie Island, Queensland
- Boolaroo, New South Wales
- Gorokan, New South Wales
- Morisset, New South Wales
- Hamilton, New South Wales
- Bundaberg, Queensland
- Caboolture, Queensland
- Gympie, Queensland
- Warner, Queensland.
These trial deployments will augment an ongoing FTTN pilot project in Umina on the New South Wales Central Coast. The Government says that NBN Co will continue to deploy a mix of FTTH, fixed wireless, and permanent satellite networks while it is conducting the FTTN trials. Assuming the trials go well, the wired aspects of the NBN deployment are expected to shift significantly toward FTTN.
The Government expects FTTN using VDSL2 technology should be able to support downstream rates of “up to” 100 Mbps and upstream rates of up to 40 Mbps.
“This announcement demonstrates how FTTN can help to bring broadband more quickly to many regional areas than would have occurred under Labor’s plan—and that is good news because upgraded broadband can help regional communities capture improved economic, educational and social opportunities,’ said Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.
Concurrent with the new trials, NBN Co, Telstra, and the Government will continue to negotiate changes to the current NBN Definitive Agreements covering Telstra’s participation in the NBN. The Government aims to enable NBN Co to gain access to Telstra’s local access network.
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