NBN Co to start consulting on gigabit speeds for FTTC

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NBN Co to start consulting on gigabit speeds for FTTC

With a similar tiering construct to HFC.

NBN Co expects to start consulting with industry this month on the extension of its highest speed tiers, including up to gigabit, to part of its fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) network.

An update to the company’s product roadmap reveals plans for a “consultation of home superfast and home ultrafast tiers for FTTC by use of G.fast”, spanning March and April this year.

NBN Co said late last year that it intended to introduce up to gigabit services into the FTTC footprint sometime in the 2021 calendar year, though CEO Stephen Rue asked not to be held to that timeline.

Though it will depend on the outcome of the consultation, it would appear that the introduction timeframe has firmed significantly.

To do so, it needs distribution point units (DPUs) in streets to be capable of G.fast, an evolution of DSL standards that allows for theoretical speeds beyond 100 Mbps.

The company has made progress in this regard; late last year, Rue said one-third of DPUs are G.fast capable.

In a recent question on notice response to senate estimates, NBN Co indicated that the proportion of dual mode VDSL/G.Fast DPUs in the ground is now "approximately 50 percent”.

Just how much of the FTTC network will be upgraded with these DPUs is still unclear.

Rue has previously said that some FTTC areas may be upgraded to full fibre, where it is more cost-effective than replacing the existing DPU.

There appears to be no new guidance on the breakdown of upgrades.

Given the nature of FTTC, it is understood that the forthcoming consultation paper will propose speed tier constructs that are the same as for hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC).

That would mean ‘home superfast’ is 250/25 Mbps and ‘home ultrafast’ is “500 to close to 1000/50 Mbps”, though usually configured to be at least 750 Mbps.

An NBN Co spokesperson told iTnews that it is “continuing to work through the detailed design and planning process around our proposed investments across all technologies, including FTTC, and ... will release further detail in due course.”

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