NBN Co to bring fibre-like uplink speeds to copper

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NBN Co to bring fibre-like uplink speeds to copper
50Mbps... how many TVs does one house need?

Don't count on a 50Mbps downlink for a while.

NBN Co intends to seek upload speeds on the fibre-to-the-node network that mirror those achievable on a fibre-to-the-home connection.

Head of strategy and transformation, JB Rousselot, told a Senate Select Committee yesterday that "expert advice" received from the Boston Consulting Group as part of the strategic review suggested that uplink speeds on FTTH could be matched on FTTN.

"The assumptions that we've put in [are that] all sizes of the FTTN products will deliver the same type of uplink speed that are currently offered on the FTTH products," he said.

This would mean, for example, uplink speeds of 20Mbps on connections that boasted a downlink of 50Mbps.

Quizzed by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam on whether NBN Co "seriously think you can deliver that [type of uplink] ubiquitously on the existing legacy copper", Rousselot indicated that it wa "the expert advice that we've received".

On the hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) portions of the NBN, the company was assuming upload speeds "that are roughly one-third of the download speeds" would be achievable, Rousselot said.

50Mbps too much?

NBN Co executives faced stiff criticism after claiming that 50Mbps downlink speeds far exceeded the bandwidth requirements of the average "mainstream" internet user.

Executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski said that the requirement for 50Mbps was the equivalent of running five televisions in a household simultaneously, with one consuming 4K resolution broadcast signals via the internet, two consuming high-definition pictures, and two more taking broadcast streams at standard definition.

"This is a requirement of far less than one percent of Australia's high bandwidth users," Switkowski said. "For the mainstream, 50Mbps is considerably in advance of their appetite."

The comments drew an immediate rebuke from Ludlam. "I presume you're well aware the internet is not a broadcast medium - it's probably the least interesting dimension of the technology - and yet we're continually hearing about download speeds in terms of how many televisions we can operate at the same time."

Former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy weighed in at a press conference following the comments.

"That's quite an extraordinary claim and I think they'll be embarrassed in the future when they have to look back and try to justify that," Conroy said.

Switkowski's comments came after it emerged that NBN Co would not attempt to meet download speed guarantees made by the Coalition Government.

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