FTTP vs FTTN vs FTTC: Connections to the National Broadband Network explained

September 6th, 2018 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. AussieBB


If you’ve been looking at nbn™ plans, then you’ve probably come across terms ‘FTTN’, ‘FTTP’, and ‘FTTC.’ So what’s the difference between them, and will FTTC speeds and performance meet or exceed what FTTN and FTTP offer (or vice versa)? They are all types of nbn™ connections, but there are some key differences that you should be aware of in regards to installation, rollout costs, and timeframes.

The good news is that with each connection type, you’ll be able to engage with any ISP that offers nbn™ services, and sign up for the same packages.

For more information on the different nbn™ plans available from top speed provider Aussie Broadband, visit our nbn™ page here.

Defining FTTP, FTTN, and FTTC

FTTP or ‘Fibre to the Premises’ means fibre is connected all the way to your office or house.

FTTN or ‘Fibre to the Node’ has a fibre running to a mini-exchange or node near your premises, which is then connected from that point to your property through traditional copper line.

FTTC or ‘Fibre to the Curb’ uses a fibre connection almost all the way to your home, taking advantage of the existing copper wiring to complete the connection between your home and the curb. This is the latest iteration of this type of connection, and promises to give a faster speed to the user in comparison to FTTN, as well as providing a cheaper option for NBNCo compared to FTTP.

All three of these connection types are based on fibre-optic cable, although fibre, copper, and other technologies may also be used. Fibre-optic cable is used because it allows fast uploads and downloads. However, connection speeds for FTTN can diminish the further your premises are located from the node.

NBNCo’s 2017 corporate plan estimates that 17 to 21% of premises in Australia will be connected to the nbn™ through FTTP. FTTN or ‘Fibre to the Node’ will be present in roughly 43 to 54% of premises, and as of 2018 1.5 million Australians are anticipated to connect to the nbn™ via FTTC.

So which is better? While all provide faster internet connectivity when compared to ADSL, it might be helpful to think of FTTN as one generation up from ADSL, FTTC as one step ahead of FTTN, and FTTP is the highest quality connection of these available technologies.

Pros and cons of FTTP vs FTTN vs FTTC

Though FTTC and FTTP are significantly faster than FTTN, costs to the consumer for FTTP and FTTN are relatively similar. When it comes to the rollout costs, FTTC will be cheaper due to the ease of upgrading the connection, and the reduced amount of copper infrastructure required.

Unfortunately, accessibility to each of these connection types will depend on what has been provided for your area, so you won’t necessarily be able to choose the type of connection you want.

1. Speed

FTTP was considered the best nbn™ connection due to its superior speed. FTTP offers typical download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 40Mbps. Some FTTP connections can achieve up to 1Gbps for downloads and 400Mbps for uploads.

By way of comparison, FTTN offers speeds of around 50Mbps to 100Mbps. Attainable sync speeds vary wildly regardless of distance due to many factors, and one of these factors includes your proximity to the node. For example, the average speed for those more than 700m in distance is around 25Mbps – 30Mbps.

However, with the introduction of FTTC, these speed numbers have dramatically changed for the premises lucky enough to be in the first rollout of FTTC to properties. Due to the small amount of copper required, reducing the risk of speed degradation, “NBNCo says future FTTC upgrades will be able to achieve speeds of up to 1Gbps, or ten-times faster than the current maximum NBN speed”, according to WhistleOut.

Your nbn™ connection speed will also vary depending on the speed tier you choose. Your nbn™ retailer might offer 12Mbps (about ADSL speed), 25Mbps, 50Mbps, or 100Mbps speed tiers.

The speeds that you’ll actually need will depend greatly on what you’re going to use the internet for. A 12Mbps connection is sufficient for Web browsing, email, and other basic tasks, but if you’re looking to stream Netflix or play games, you’ll need a 50Mbps or 100Mbps connection. If you’re planning on setting up a home office, you’ll also want a connection on the faster end of the spectrum, so you can make video calls and use Cloud services.

Click here for more information on the various “tiers” of plans available at Aussie Broadband, the top nbn™ speed provider according to the ACCC.

2. Cost

All nbn™ plans, including FTTN, FTTC and FTTP connections, follow a similar pricing structure. Installation and setup of the connection is covered by NBNCo, so you won’t pay anything. You might pay an activation fee for your contract, but this depends on your internet service provider (ISP).

The faster the nbn™ speed tier you chose, the more you’ll pay on your monthly plan. nbn™ plans are generally in line with current ADSL prices, and there shouldn’t be any cost differential between FTTN, FTTC or FTTP plan options. This means that as a consumer, shifting to the nbn™ network shouldn’t generally mean you pay more.

3. Deployment and installation

A key benefit of FTTN over FTTP is that it is much faster to rollout. Faster deployment means your area can get connected to the nbn™ faster. It has taken two years to roll out FTTN to 3.7 million sites compared with up eight to 10 years to bring FTTP to 10 million households. FTTN is quicker to deploy than FTTP because it uses existing copper lines and therefore requires less new infrastructure to be installed.

FTTC is said to be rolled out to over 200,000 premises in 2018, primarily in NSW and Victoria.

Unfortunately, consumers don’t have the luxury of choosing which mode of delivery is rolled out in their area. However, if you have FTTN in your area and want to switch to FTTP, you can look into requesting an area switch or an individual premises switch.

4. Equipment

For both FTTN and FTTB (Fibre to the Building), the piece of equipment you’ll need is a VDSL2-ready modem router. The router lets you share your nbn™ connection with the household, so you can have multiple users on the same connection. For FTTP, Fixed Wireless and HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) connections, a wireless router is required.

FTTN runs your copper wires directly to the node, so you won’t need to have a box installed at your property. If you’re getting FTTP, NBNCo will install a utility box on an outside wall. You’ll also have a network termination device (NTD) installed indoors, and a power supply. All of this equipment will be paid for by NBNCo.

For an FTTC connection, you will need an NBNCo-installed nbn™ Connection Device and a wireless router. The Connection Device requires a power outlet as well as a connection to a telephone wall socket via a RJ11 cable.

You might also want to bundle your home phone line in with the nbn™ connection – as they will run on the same line, the only way to maintain a fixed landline once the nbn™ is installed is to have it running on an nbn™ plan. Phone line and internet bundles are convenient and inexpensive, and offer far superior call rates than you would have been getting previously.

Find out more about Aussie Broadband’s bundled telco services here.

5. Long-term policy considerations

FTTC and FTTP are generally considered superior to FTTN because they are faster, with a longer life cycle. They also have lower maintenance costs compared to FTTN, though these costs will be incurred by NBNCo and not the consumer. FTTN connection materials maintain their quality for 5 to 20 years, compared with 20 to 40 years for FTTP.

For the NBNCo, deciding whether to roll out FTTP, FTTC or FTTN to premises will be a matter of balancing the need to deliver the program quickly and inexpensively, while ensuring the nbn™ is a long term investment which will meet the needs of Australian consumers for decades to come.

Faster internet for everyone

Regardless of which option is rolled out in your area, connecting to the nbn™ gives you access to faster, more reliable internet than is currently available on ADSL.

Aussie Broadband is a leading ISP, providing a high quality internet service to government, businesses, and residential customers. We have also been named the #1internet provider in Australia for average download speeds of the providers tested by the ACCC in July 2018.

Find out if you are eligible for Aussie Broadband nbn™ here.