Friday, 16 June 2023 | 5 min read
Which NBN connection type is the best?
Written by Benjamin Millard, Communications Officer
It’s difficult to know all the different NBN connection types. FTTC, HFC, MCG – what do they all mean?
Firstly – gotcha – MCG isn’t a form of connection, it’s a big stadium that seats 100,000 in Melbourne.
Secondly, Aussie has help centre articles explaining each type, head over there if definitions are all you’re after. Instead, we’re going to go over which technology is the best for a high-speed, reliable internet setup.
Before we start, not all connection types are equal, and you can’t always control what you have at home. If you don’t know your connection type, visit our POI checker to find out.
NBN are rolling out their Fibre Connect program across the country, upgrading connections containing copper wiring/hybrid fibre coaxial to fibre. New localities are being added regularly, and you can check if your address is eligible for an upgrade by going to this page.
But if you just want to know what connection type is the most fast and reliable: read on!
For customers living in remote areas, Fixed Wireless may be the only technology available. Instead of using wiring to connect to the NBN, Fixed Wireless uses roof-mounted antennas to transmit signals to a tower.
This means that Fixed Wireless setups typically can’t reach speeds that a wired connection can, with plans capped at 75mbps/10mbps. Speeds are dictated by a host of factors, like weather, distance to your NBN tower, or network congestion.
Although speed and reliability aren’t as advanced as fibre technology, NBN are upgrading Fixed Wireless to 5G, meaning a faster internet experience is on the way (hang in there, Fixed Wireless squad!).
Fibre to the Node/Building (FTTN/FTTB)
Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fibre to the Building (FTTB) are two very common connection types that use copper wiring.
In FTTN’s case, fibre cable runs from an NBN Point of Interconnect (POI) to a nearby node where existing copper wiring connects the node to your home. For FTTB, this node is usually a room in your building called an MDF (Main Distribution Frame).
The drawback with these technologies is the presence of copper wiring. When compared to fibre optic cabling, copper doesn’t come close. Signal breaks down significantly the further it travels down copper, meaning if your home or apartment is far from the node/MDF, you likely won’t be able to get speeds reaching the maximum 100mbps/40mbps that FTTN/B can provide. Other factors like the quality of your copper line and internal wiring also affect speed.
As said earlier, NBN’s fibre upgrade program means that more suburbs are becoming eligible for fibre technology – keep your eyes peeled for your local area.
Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)
Like the last connection type, Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) uses copper, but only for a short distance. As the name says, fibre goes from the NBN POI to the curb outside your premises, where copper completes the connection. Speeds are capped at 100mbps/40mbps like FTTN/B, which suits most people’s internet demands (key word – most).
So, if the same speed plans are on offer, what makes it different from FTTN/B?
Great question - never thought you’d ask.
Copper is only a small part of this setup, meaning there is less area for copper-related issues to occur, like a damaged wire or signal deterioration. Therefore, FTTC customers are likely to enjoy a more reliable internet experience than that of their FTTN/B counterparts.
Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC)
Now we’re officially getting into the speedy section of things (hold onto your hats). Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) uses old pay TV cabling, instead of copper, to connect the node to your house.
As pay TV cables are typically quite dated, this can sometimes lead to unreliability due to age. However, this is only a slight drawback when you consider that you can access plan speeds of up to 1000mbps/50mbps - we told you to hold onto your hats, didn’t we?
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
Finally, the big one.
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) boasts the best reliability and speed out of all NBN connection types. It’s not hard to figure out what the vibe is here – your connection to the NBN POI is made up of nothing but sweet, sweet fibre optic cable.
The hype around fibre is justified. While copper-based connections have been found to max out at 40 gigabits per second, fibre optic cable can theoretically be pushed to a limit of hundreds of terabits per second. The highest speeds NBN offers for FTTP residential customers is 1000mbps/100mbps, but it’s rare to find a plan that has both these speeds.
The difference when compared to HFC is scalability. When higher speed residential plans become available, fibre is future proofed so that it will be able to support these speeds well into the future. In any connection setup, reliability is key. Fibre uses light instead of electricity to send signals down glass strands, meaning electronic interference can’t hamper its effectiveness.
Once again, NBN are rolling out this technology to residential customers across the country, with Aussie providing a $0 installation fee when upgrading your address (terms and conditions apply, you know the drill).
So, which one is the best?
If you’ve gotten to this point, it’s clear which NBN connection type is king. FTTP boasts the fastest plans, is the most reliable and is future-provided, so it’s hard to look past it.
But please don’t go digging up your copper setup or tearing down your antennas! (Not just because it’s real unsafe)
Having cutting edge technology is neat, but for most people, the speeds that are provided on FTTN/B/C are more than enough. Day to day things like streaming an ultra-HD movie, scrolling through your Tiktok, or downloading a massive gaming update take up less speed than you think – find out more here!
If you’re thinking of upgrading to fibre or upping your plan speeds, we advise checking how you use your internet so you can make an informed decision. Don’t say we don’t have your back!
Benjamin (or Ben) is a Communications Officer at Aussie Broadband. Responsible for the operation of Aussie’s organic social media, Ben also produces editorial blog content, as well as helping with community management. In his spare time, he...See all articles
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