FTTP vs FTTN vs FTTC: NBN connections explained
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 when compared to FTTN, as well as providing a cheaper option for NBN Co 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.
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 as the highest quality connection of these available technologies.
*Additional external costs may apply.
Pros and cons of FTTP vs FTTN vs FTTC
Although 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 was 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 your area has provided, so you won’t necessarily be able to choose the type of connection you want.
There is an exception to this… sort of. NBN Co are currently offering eligible FTTN and FTTC addresses the opportunity to upgrade to FTTP with a $0* installation. While this isn’t open to all FTTN and FTTC connections, NBN Co have stated that by the end of 2023, up to a total of 8 million Australian homes and businesses will be eligible to access FTTP.
FTTP was considered the best nbn™ connection due to its superior speed. FTTP offers typical download speed plans ranging from 12 Mbps up to 1,000 Mbps (1Gbps).
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, there is a reduced risk of speed degradation. However, copper technologies cannot achieve the highest speed capabilities of the network, so remains lacking.
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, 250Mbps, or 1,000Mbps 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 likely need a 50Mbps or higher 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.
All nbn™ plans, including FTTN, FTTC and FTTP connections, follow a similar pricing structure. For most properties (except newly built ones), NBN Co covers installation and setup costs, so for you very likely 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, however, there shouldn’t be any cost differential between FTTN, FTTC or FTTP plan options.
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 took two years to roll out FTTN to 3.7 million sites compared with up to 8-10 years to bring FTTP to 10 million households. FTTN is quicker to deploy than FTTP because it uses existing copper telephone lines and therefore requires less new infrastructure to be installed.
Unfortunately, consumers don’t have the luxury of choosing which mode of delivery is rolled out in their area. However, if you have FTTN or FTTC in your area and want to switch to FTTP, you can look into requesting an area switch or an individual premises switch. Alternatively, you can check if your address is eligible for a $0* FTTP installation upgrade. Click here to find out.
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, NBN Co 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 NBN Co.
For an FTTC connection, you will need an NBN Co-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.
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, although NBN Co incurs these costs, not the consumer. FTTN connection materials maintain their quality for 5 to 20 years, compared with 20 to 40 years for FTTP.
Faster internet for everyone
Regardless of which option has rolled out in your area, 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.