NBN has launched its first live services for end users on fibre-to-the-node technology, claiming most ADSL users won't need an on-premises appointment to switch over to the network.
The FTTN go-live follows an end user trial in Belmont, NSW, that covered 43 homes, all of whom were Telstra retail customers. Around 384 premises are served by each FTTN cabinet.
NBN FTTN services will initially be available to just under 2500 customers in Belmont. The rate of releases is expected to ramp up to 60,000 per month in January.
In its most recent corporate plan, unveiled last month, NBN forecast 500,000 properties would reach FTTN ready for service status in financial year 2016.
In total, it expects 4.5 million customers nationally - 38 percent of Australian homes and businesses - will eventually use FTTN and fibre-to-the-basement services.
The FTTN trial delivered wholesale speeds of 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up to most end users, NBN said.
NBN chief customer officer John Simon today said most FTTN customers at Belmont would be able to access speeds of 20Mbps down and 5Mbps up.
He said 100/40 speeds were typical within 400 metres of the cabinet, falling to 60/20 at 700 metres.
Customers switching from ADSL to FTTN won't need a professional on-premises installation in most cases, he said.
"The standard business model is we don't need an appointment with the end user in the home, so it will just be a matter of the customer and the [retail service provider] swapping out the modem," Simon said.
NBN principal architect Tony Cross today said the FTTN network architecture would allow for an upgrade to FTTP in the future.
"Everyone agrees in the utopian world, fibre is the best solution, but we have a budget to deliver to... functionality, time and cost, MTM delivers it in a reasonable manner."
NBN had previously indicated it would start offering active services to premises within its 1000-node construction trial of fibre-to-the-node technology from September.
It today said it had signed wholesale agreements with 20 RSPs including Telstra, Optus, Exetel, TPG, iiNet, AAPT, SkyMesh, Harbour ISP and M2 Group.
The decision to include FTTN in the NBN has long been controversial, with shadow communications minister Jason Clare claiming the government has underestimated the cost of copper remediation.
In October last year, NBN began build preparation work to bring FTTN to 200,000 premises as part of its 1000 node trial in 140 suburbs.
The specified areas were in the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle regions of New South Wales and the Wide Bay Burnett, Moreton Bay and Greater Brisbane areas of Queensland.
The pilot had been designed to inform the best way to tackle a large-scale rollout of FTTN, which has become the default fixed-line access technology of choice under the Coalition's multi-technology-mix model.
The company has also run earlier technology trials in Umina on the NSW Central Coast and Epping in northern Melbourne to test whether Telstra’s copper network could be used to provide high-speed broadband.