nbn is delighted to bring NetComm Wireless on board as our technology partner for our deployment of Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) services in 2018.

In building out the nbn™ network, one of the biggest lessons nbn has learned these last six years is the importance of having flexibility and agility in our approach – we have learned that a one-size-fits all methodology is just not suitable in a country like Australia.

That’s why we are so pleased to announce that we have brought local company NetComm Wireless on board as our technology partner for our deployment of Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) services, currently planned to launch in 2018.

NetComm Wireless is already a supplier to our world-leading Fixed-Wireless program and will now also be supplying network equipment for our FTTC deployment, principally the Distribution Point Unit (DPUs) that will be deployed in the network.

What is FTTC?

FTTC is the latest technology to join the nbn Multi Technology Mix (MTM) platform and works by delivering new fibre all the way to the telecom pit (located near the curb of the road) where it will connect into one of the DPUs that nbn will be deploying.

While fibre connects into one side of a DPU (which typically services four premises) the other side of the device is connected to the existing copper-line that covers the last length of the journey to the premises.

If you’d like to go in to a bit more detail, we have a separate FTTC article that you can visit.

Advantages of FTTC

There are two big advantages for nbn in deploying FTTC to the initial 700,000 premises that are expected to receive it as a service.

Firstly, because we are using the existing short copper line, we don’t have to conduct the very expensive and time-consuming task of running a new fibre-optic line into the premises.

Secondly, because the DPU is reverse-powered from the end-user premises over the existing copper line, we are also spared the considerable cost of supplying the DPU with mains power as we do with our other Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) equipment.

Because we are taking the fibre so close to the home – typically between 20-30 metres – we are able to comfortably deliver speeds of 100/40Mbps using VDSL technology – the same top-speeds that are available to our Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) and Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial end-user premises.

Our next steps 

nbn will be one of the first operators in the world to embark on a DPU-based FTTC deployment – we are truly breaking new ground here with our embrace of this emerging technology.

We plan to move to a field trial of our first FTTC services in mid-2017 and will be conducting the trial in partnership with our RSPs so that they too can learn more about how FTTC works in real world conditions before we move to our intended commercial launch in 2018.

Perhaps most exciting of all from our perspective at nbn is that FTTC sets us up in the future to move towards embracing the new copper acceleration technologies that will be available in the coming years.

G.fast developments suggest that, in future, we could be able to get close to 1Gbps over FTTC.

Later still, we have the potential to implement other developing technologies such as XG.FAST, over which we have already achieved stunning speeds of 8Gbps in our own lab trials in October.

There is a huge amount to be excited about with our launch of our FTTC services and we are looking forward to working with our partners at NetComm to bring this great technology to reality.

Peter Ryan is the Chief Network Engineering Officer at nbn.

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