NBN begins Fibre to the Curb trials

NBN chief executive Bill Morrow unveiled fibre to the curb plans back in 2016. Photo: Adam Hollingworth
NBN chief executive Bill Morrow unveiled fibre to the curb plans back in 2016. Photo: Adam Hollingworth

More than 1 million Australian premises are set for a broadband boost as NBN starts running fibre all the way to the nature strip.

Trials begin today in the inner-north Melbourne suburb of Coburg, intended to evaluate Fibre to the Curb's construction and installation ahead of a nationwide rollout which will commence later this year. It will make NBN the first broadband wholesaler in the world to roll out FttC out on a mass scale, also known as Fibre to the Distribution Point.

By the end of the year NBN intends to deploy FttC in all states and territories except Tasmania and the Northern Territory. It will mostly be utilised in metropolitan areas, with the lion's share going to Sydney and Melbourne and the first customers likely to be connected in mid-2018.

As a general rule, the closer the fibre reaches to your home the better off you are in terms of broadband speeds. Under ADSL, fibre stopped at the telephone exchange and relied on copper phone lines to reach your home. Fibre to the Node brings the fibre to within a few streets of your house, while Curb brings it to the nature strip and Premises runs it all the way to the wall socket. Meanwhile Fibre to the Basement runs fibre to the ground floor of apartment blocks.

FttC will have no trouble matching the 100/40 Mbps speeds currently available over FttP, although the fact that FttC still relies on copper phone lines to cover the last few metres into your home could eventually become a bottleneck as NBN speeds increase.

NBN's NG-PON2 fibre trials can potentially deliver 10 Gbps over FttP. Meanwhile new copper-based technologies such as G.fast and XG.FAST can help when that last leg still relies on copper phone lines. In 2016 an XG.FAST trial saw NBN achieve speeds of 8 Gbps over a 30-metre twisted-pair copper line.

It might seem that NBN is caving into pressure to move away from FttN, offering FttC as a compromise to those who missed out on FttP. If that is the case, NBN and the politicians would be very reluctant to admit it. They still insist that it's simply a question of money and NBN rollout technologies in each area are determined by which is the most cost-effective.

Initially NBN chief Bill Morrow insisted that FttC would be used sparingly, only in areas where it worked out cheaper than FttN. One key factor is that FttC draws power from your house, unlike a Node which needs its only power supply – which can get expensive when building a Nodes in remote area.

FttC has gradually become a larger part of the Multi-Technology Mix, but at the same some homes on the city fringes which were destined for some form of fixed-line NBN have since been shunted across to Fixed-Wireless or satellite. Even now the rollout remains in flux, so it's difficult to say which technology will roll down your street.

Below is the Fibre to the Curb rollout schedule for June to December 2017. Which NBN technology is scheduled to reach your home and does it make the grade?

New South Wales

  • Sydney / Greater Sydney
  • Burwood, Silverwater, Edensor Park, Hornsby, Miranda, Kensington, Haymarket, Liverpool, Frenchs Forest, Mona Vale, Rockdale, Ryde, Springwood, South Sydney, Orchard Hills Kurrajong
  • Riverina
  • Finley, Howlong, Coolamon, Tocumwal
  • Central Tablelands / Central West
  • Portland, Nyngan
  • Hunter
  • Nords Wharf
  • Mid-North Coast
  • Bellingen, Crescent Head, Dorrigo, Lake Cathie, South West Rocks Woolgoolga
  • Northern Rivers / Northern Tablelands / North West Slopes
  • Casino, Manilla, Narrabri, Tenterfield, Uralla, Walgett, Walcha, Warialda, Wee Waa, Ballina
  • South Tablelands/ South Coast
  • Braidwood, Bega, Currarong, Moruya, Greenwell Point, Merimbula, Narooma, Tuross Head

Victoria

  • Melbourne/ Greater Melbourne
  • Broadmeadows, Campbellfield, Jacana, Meadow Heights, Greenvale, Coolaroo, Junction Ridge, Cranbourne East, Botanic Ridge, Coburg, Coburg North, Pascoe Vale, Deer Park, Burnside, Caroline Springs, Melbourne CBD, Narre Warren North, Ferntree Gully, Dandenong South, Dandenong, Hallam, Mulgrave, Rowville, Epping, Footscray, Lilydale, Laverton, Altona Meadows, Seabrook, Laverton North, Sydenham, Taylors Lake, Hillside, Keilor Lodge, Wyndham Vale, Geelong
  • North West / West VIC
  • Eaglehawk, Epsom, Beaufort, Nhill, St Arnaud, Stawell, Warracknabeal
  • North East / South East VIC
  • Benalla, Corryong, Euroa, Mansfield, Myrtleford, Nagambie, Paynesville, Tatura, Tallangatta, Yea, Yarrawonga
  • South West VIC
  • Ararat, Edenhope, Koroit, Sebastopol

Queensland

  • Brisbane/ Greater Brisbane
  • Albion, Aspley, Bundamba, Brassall, Charlotte, Ipswich, Rothwell, Salisbury
  • Wide Bay/ Northern QLD
  • Agnes Water, Maryborough, Calliope, Gladstone, Moura
  • Sunshine Coast / South Burnett
  • Beerwah, Landsborough, Woodford
  • Darling Downs/ Central Queensland
  • St George, Boyne Island, Winton
  • Southern/ South East QLD
  • Ashmore, Inglewood, Kooralbyn, Mount Tamborine

ACT

  • Greater Canberra
  • Deakin

South Australia

  • Adelaide/ Greater Adelaide
  • Glenunga, Croydon, Elizabeth

Western Australia

  • Perth/ Greater Perth
  • Bayswater, Bedford, Embleton, Inglewood, Banksia Grove, Pearsall