The National Broadband Network (NBN) is not far off completion, and if you’re not connected yet it’s probably only a matter of time until you are. Depending on where you live, the type of NBN can change drastically. The most common type of NBN is Fibre to the Node (FTTN). But what does FTTN mean?Find out below.
What is Fibre to the Node NBN?
FTTN stands for Fibre to the Node. It is part of the wider roll-out of the National Broadband Network and is the most common connection type, designed to be cheaper and easier to rollout. Fibre optic cable is run from a ‘point of interconnect’ (POI) to a central box in your neighbourhood or street called a ‘node’. Your house then connects to this node using existing copper wiring, which is being repurposed from existing phone and ADSL copper wiring.
- POIs are dotted around the country – there are more than 120 of them – and are commonly located where old telephone exchanges are/were. You can find out more about the available exchanges here.
- The NBN using the same wiring as landline connections, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use your home phone anymore! You’ll be able to through a new technology called VoIP.
Because FTTN uses the old copper lines for part of the overall connection, it’s designed to be cheaper to rollout than other types of NBN. However, it comes with some downsides in regards to potential speeds and reliability due to your old copper connection making up a sizeable portion of the cabling.
How Much do Fibre to the Node Plans Cost?
Generally speaking, unlimited data on the Basic Speed Tier on FTTN costs as little as $44.90 a month, with many providers offering something around the $60 mark. Data-capped plans are often cheaper, but if you’re a power user, they might not be right for you.
Typically there’s no difference in price between the connection types, and you’ll find prices stay the same on all connection types unless states otherwise. Keep in mind that on FTTN connnections some providers might not offer some deals. Telstra for example does not offer NBN 100 for FTTN customers.
Below you’ll find some cheap NBN plans to choose from.
The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
What do I Need for FTTN NBN?
There is no special installation required by NBN Co, and there’s not much more you have to do for FTTN that you haven’t already done for your ADSL connection, provided that you’ve got an NBN ready modem. This is because your home already uses the existing copper wire connection, meaning you can connect as normal.
- When the NBN comes to your area, you will likely be notified by your provider, as many offer transitioning at no extra charge.
- You’ll need to make sure your router is ready for the NBN.
Once NBN has arrived in your area, you’ll have up to 18 months to make the transition before your old connection is turned off. In that time, it can be worthwhile shopping around for a new provider, finding out about the speed tiers on offer and ultimately finding the right plan for you.
How Fast is Fibre to the Node?
FTTN can reach theoretically up to 100Mbps, however you’ll find typical evening speeds stick between 75Mbps and 90Mbps on the highest speed plan. However, fibre to the node customers are heavily reliant on how far they live from their node. Like with ADSL exchanges, FTTN customers farther away from the node have a diminished capacity to achieve top speeds.
- NBN Co says customers who live within 700 metres of the node can achieve top NBN speeds.
- Those outside of this radius can theoretically achieve a maximum of 60Mbps.
Providers are not allowed to put customers on a 100Mbps plan if they live outside the 700m radius or if they test the connection and are physically unable to achieve a 100Mbps top speed.
However, there are a few other factors that can determine your real-world speed. This has given rise to what providers advertise as “typical evening speeds”. Evenings – between the hours of 7pm and 11pm – are when more people are online and when more members of the household are likely to be connected to the internet.
- Congested periods can realistically see a drop in top speeds of 20% or more, such as an NBN 100 plan dropping to 80Mbps or worse.
Different providers categorize their speed tiers differently; some focus more attention on the top speed tier, or the next speed tier down. The most popular speed in the country is NBN 50, which can reach 50Mbps in download speed and 20Mbps in upload speed. This is a great place to start with your NBN plan, as it gives you room to see how much you rely on your internet, and how demanding your household is.
What are other types of NBN?
Fibre to the node connections are the most common, but there are a number of other connections throughout Australia:
- FTTC – Fibre to the Curb: The newest NBN technology employing fibre up to the kerb or street of your house
- FTTB – Fibre to the Building: Seen in apartment blocks, delivering fibre to the communications room of your building for all residents
- FTTP – Fibre to the Premises: The least common connection type, part of the initial project scope delivering fibre right up to the home. Arguably the ‘best’ type and most reliable of the technologies, but usually only used for ‘greenfield’ projects
- HFC – Hybrid Fibre Coaxial: Uses any existing ‘pay TV’ or cable network – usually Telstra’s old cable. This cable runs from the closest node to your home
- Fixed Wireless: Consists of 2,600 transmission towers employing 4G mobile technology to cover half a million residences in regional areas. A roof antenna connects to a base station, which then connects to 4G. Top speed available is generally 50Mbps
- SkyMuster Satellite: There are two SkyMuster satellites providing internet to remote locations such as Christmas Island, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. A satellite dish must be installed on the home. Top speed available is usually 25Mbps
The National Broadband Network is Australia’s largest infrastructure project in history, and as you can probably tell from the above seven technologies, it’s a complex and messy one. If you want to keep it simple, it can pay to check your address with a provider to see what’s available at your place and go from there.
Should I worry about my Fibre to the Node connection?
The good thing is you’ll be part of the most common type of NBN, and ultimately, it’s neither good nor bad. You don’t have much choice, and while other connections might be able to provide more reliable speeds, it’s not worth losing sleep over. There are a number of things you can do to gear yourself up for NBN:
- Ensure your router is up to the task: chances are if it’s more than a couple years old it could probably do with an upgrade
- Pick the right speed plan for you, but first make sure your home can achieve those speeds if choosing a 100Mbps plan
- If transitioning from an old connection to NBN, don’t panic, because you have up to 18 months to switch, giving you time to think
Overall, you don’t have a choice about whether you’re connected to FTTN or not; that’s in the hands of NBN Co. However, if you are concerned, you can look at the NBN alternatives as having an active NBN plan isn’t compulsory! Be sure to shop around, and consider your needs before jumping into a plan.