NBN will roll out new ultra-speed technology next year, but most Australians with FTTN connections won't see a difference.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on October 25, 2017

Next year, the National Broadband Network (NBN) will roll out new technology that allows old copper lines to deliver fibre-like speeds, but not to the majority who need it.

On Tuesday, NBN chief strategy officer JB Rousselot revealed that the company would implement G.fast technology in 2018, which has reportedly delivered 600Mbps over 100m of a 20-year-old copper line in testing.

The fastest commonly available NBN speed tier at present is 100Mbps, although the NBN is aiming to have gigabit (1Gbps or 1000Mbps) speeds available on the network in the future as user demands ramp up.

“Adding G.fast to the toolkit for the [fibre-to-the-kerb] and fibre-to-the-building networks will allow us to deliver ultra-fast services faster and more cost effectively than if we had to deliver them on a full fibre-to-the-premises connection,” said Rousselot proudly.

But therein lies the catch — no mention of the fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) connection.

With a FTTN connection, the final link to the house is with copper wire stretching from a green box in the street. The longer the length of copper, the slower the available internet speeds.

As reported by the ABC, the FTTN is the technology connecting the large majority of Australians to the network.

So will Australians connected by FTTN benefit at all?

Business Insider understands G.fast, as it currently performs, cannot travel further than 400m of copper, which means less than half the FTTN would benefit.

Mr Rousselot could only say that it would eventually advantage FTTN users.

“Our FTTP and hybrid-fibre coaxial end-users already have the technology to support gigabit services and adding G.fast over FTTC provides the upgrade path for our FTTN end users to ultimately receive gigabit speeds too.”

Adding G.fast over FTTC provides the upgrade path for our FTTN end users to ultimately receive gigabit speeds too

This follows the admission from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NBN chief Bill Morrow that the national network was flawed economically, and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reported a 160% increase in the number of NBN-related complaints over the past financial year.

“At the moment it is estimated to deliver a return of around 3% – it is enough to keep it on the government’s balance sheet, as a government asset, but it certainly isn’t a commercial return that the stock market would expect,” the PM said.