Inside NBN Co's 108Mbps apartment block test

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Inside NBN Co's 108Mbps apartment block test

The technical details.

NBN Co is touting line rate speeds of 108/48 Mbps in its first test of a 'fibre-to-the-basement' service in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.

The "blisteringly fast" results were first revealed by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in an opinion column published yesterday.

"Labor forbade NBN Co from using "fibre to the basement", which means terminating the fibre optic cable in a multiplex in the telecom room of an apartment or office building and linking into the existing copper local area network," Turnbull said.

"Since the change of Government NBN Co has been trialling that previously prohibited technology. The first results are in – in an apartment building in Melbourne, over 150 metres of internal copper wiring is delivering download speeds of 108 Mbp [and] uploads [at] 48 Mbps."

iTnews has learned that the trial apartment block is located in Brunswick and has about 70 apartments, although the trial connects only one of the apartments to the service.

An Alcatel-Lucent 7330 intelligent services access manager (ISAM) has been installed in the block's communications room. The trial is understood to have made use of VDSL with vectoring to improve potential speeds.

The speeds touted by Turnbull are line rate — or peak — speeds possible over the copper cable. Actual data throughput speeds would be far lower.

The block of apartments is understood to be several years old — meaning the last-mile copper isn't completely new for the test. NBN Co's labs in Docklands acted as the 'dummy retail service provider' for the test service.

An NBN Co spokesperson confirmed the trial location to iTnews.

"We are encouraged by the results and by what we have seen so far," the spokesperson said. "It is early days and we continue to work towards the next stage of the pilot in the new year with the retail service providers".

A more comprehensive pilot — also using Alcatel-Lucent equipment and involving actual retail service providers — is expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2014.

In that pilot, 10 multiple dwelling unit (MDU) buildings are to be chosen by NBN Co, ranging from apartment blocks to shopping centres. Trial sites are still being finalised.

Vectored VDSL deployments are likely to begin under a rebooted NBN model in the second half of calendar year 2016, according to the recent strategic review.

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