The Difference Between NBN Connections and Why You’re Stuck With the One You’ve Got

nbn connection
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There are seven different types of NBN connection in Australia. Knowing the differences between them all can be confusing. Many of us don’t even know which one we have at home. If any. But don’t worry, we’re here to explain them all.

This post was originally published on July 10, 2020.

Why can’t I choose my NBN connection?

The NBN is a mixed bag of connection types. What you get depends on what infrastructure is available in your area. The differing technology also means that some connections can get speed tiers that others can’t.

For example, the new NBN 250 and NBN 1000 tiers are only available on HFC and FTTP. If you have any other NBN connection type, you can’t get them.

There is one way upgrade your NBN connection

There is one way to change your connection type. According to NBN Co, any premises can be upgraded to the highly coveted Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), even those currently on Satellite.

However, it’ll cost you. How much you need to hand over will depend on:

  • Proximity to existing nbnTM network infrastructure
  • Distances between premises in scope
  • Complexity of civil construction required
  • Original technology and new technology
  • Remoteness of location

So it could end up costing thousands of dollars for some Australians to upgrade their NBN connection.

 

Back in 2017 someone paid over $217,000 to upgrade from Fixed Wireless. To be fair, this was a unique case where the customer lived in a rural area. However, upgrading to FTTP is often too expensive even for more modest upgrades.

Earlier this year NBN stated that as of March 2020 it had provided 971 FTTN to FTTP, 92 ficed wireless to FTTP and 147 HFC to FTTP quotes. It is unclear how many of these upgrades went ahead.

Fibre to the premises (FTTP)

What is it?

Fibre to the premises (FTTP) connects your home directly to the NBN via a fibre optic cable. A multi-fibre ribbon runs from the closest fibre distribution hub and your home gets its own dedicated fibre from it.

Speeds available on FTTP

FTTP is generally considered the fastest connection as it has the lowest speed degradation and highest potential for download and upload speeds due to how close and direct the connection is.

FTTP is one of only two NBN connection types that can access the fastest possible speed tiers NBN 250 and NBN 1000.

It can also access NBN 100, NBN 50, NBN 25 and NBN 12.

Real world speeds will be dependent on your plan and network congestion. Not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the same speeds. You may also  find your speeds impacted during peak hours. This is the same for every type of NBN connection.

Fibre to the node (FTTN)

What is it?

Fibre to the node (FFTN) utilises existing copper phone and internet wires to connect your home to the NBN. These wires runs from a premises to a central node in your neighbourhood. A fibre optic cable then runs from the node to the nearest fibre distribution hub.

FTTN is generally slower than FTTP due to the older cables and lack of direct fibre connection to the home.

These copper cables could all get replaced in the future. But considering NBN Co bought an extra 50,000km of copper wire to finish its network roll out in June 2020, don’t get your hopes up.

Speeds available on FTTN

FTTN can access four of NBN’s speed tiers — NBN 12, NBN 25, NBN 50 and NBN 100. NBN Co advises that your home needs to be within 400 metres of the node to hit NBN 100 speeds.

Fibre to the building (FTTB)

What is it?

Fibre to the building is specifically designed for apartments and buildings. A fibre optic cable connects the building’s basement or telco room. From there, individual cables will run into your apartment or office.

What type of cable this is depends on the age of the building. In most cases it will be the old copper cables. However, newer buildings may use Ethernet cables.

Speeds available on FTTN

FTTN can access four of NBN’s speed tiers — NBN 12, NBN 25, NBN 50 and NBN 100. Because the fibre connection point is closer than FTTN, and there’s less copper involved, you’re more likely to hit these speeds.

Real world speeds will be dependent on your plan and network congestion. Not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the same speeds. You may also  find your speeds impacted during peak hours. This is the same for every type of NBN connection.

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)

What is it?

Fibre to the curb (FTTC) involves running a fibre optic cable straight to the curb or driveway. From there one of the older copper phone cables connects the NBN to the premises.

While not as good as FTTP, it cuts down a lot of the speed degradation experienced by FTTN. This is because the fibre part of the connection is closer to your home than the node.

Speeds available on FTTC

FTTC can access four of NBN’s speed tiers — NBN 12, NBN 25, NBN 50 and NBN 100. Because the fibre connection point is closer than FTTN, and there’s less copper involved, you’re more likely to hit these speeds.

Real world speeds will be dependent on your plan and network congestion. Not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the same speeds. You may also  find your speeds impacted during peak hours. This is the same for every type of NBN connection.

HFC

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) is the oldest NBN connection type. It generally re-purposes existing pay TV cables, like Foxtel, to connect a home to the NBN.

Speeds available on HFC

A few years ago HFC was the slowest NBN connection available. But it has gotten some beefy upgrades and is now one of only two NBN connections that can access NBN 250 and NBN 1000.

It’s important to note that only 7 per cent of HFC-ready premises can actually get NBN 1000. And only 70 per cent can get NBN 250.

HFC is also able to access NBN 12, NBN 25, NBN 50 and NBN 100.

It also doesn’t get hit with speed degradation like FTTN due to distance from the node.

Real world speeds will be dependent on your plan and network congestion. Not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the same speeds. You may also  find your speeds impacted during peak hours. This is the same for every type of NBN connection.

Fixed Wireless

What is it?

Fixed wireless is an NBN solution for people in rural areas. It utilises fixed 4G towers to deliver the signal to the premises via an antenna on your roof.

We’re likely to see improvements to this type of NBN connection as 5G rolls out further.

Speeds available on fixed wireless?

Fixed wireless has access to NBN 12, NBN 25 and NBN 50. However, a unique speed tier has also been developed for fixed wireless – NBN 75, also known as Fixed Wireless Plus.

Real world speeds will be dependent on your plan and network congestion. Not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the same speeds. You may also  find your speeds impacted during peak hours. This is the same for every type of NBN connection.

Fixed wireless speeds can also be impacted by large obstacles between your premises and the tower. It can also be more prone to congestion than most other NBN connections due to being wireless.

NBN Satellite Sky Muster

What is it?

Satellite NBN, or Sky Muster, is similar to Fixed Wireless in that its for rural areas that can’t connect to the NBN in any other way. However, it takes it a step further as its able to service remote areas that don’t have stable 4G access.

A satellite ground station sends the connection to a satellite, which sends it back down to a rooftop satellite on the premises.

Another option for Satellite NBN in Sky Muster Plus. This allows data-free access to some basic online activities, including email, phone and computer updates, some text-based social media and messenger services and text-based web browsing.

Speeds available on Satellite NBN

Due to the degrees of separation Satellite NBN has less speed options than its grounded counterparts. Generally you can only get NBN 12 or NBN 25 speed tiers.

Real world speeds will be dependent on your plan and network congestion. Not all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the same speeds. You may also  find your speeds impacted during peak hours. This is the same for every type of NBN connection.

Satellite NBN can have the same elevated congestion problems as fixed wireless due to not being a wired connection.

NBN Plans

If you’re looking for a new NBN plan, but aren’t sure where to start, this handy tool can help. Pop in your address and you can see what plans you have access to.

Or if you already know what speed you’re after, and what connection type you have, we have some more specialised widgets for you.

NBN 100 plans for FTTP, HFC, FTTB, and FTTC

NBN 50 plans for FTTN

NBN 50 plans for Fixed Wireless

NBN 25 plans for Satellite


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