Can you afford NBN fibre on demand?

Have you heard of fibre on demand? It’s a new term being used in discussions surrounding the modified rollout plan for our National Broadband Network (NBN) under the new coalition government.NBN-620x349

Remember that the original plan was for Fibre to the premises (FTTP). Under this scheme every home and business, except those in remote areas, would get fibre connected directly to the building, with download/upload speeds of 100mbps/50mbps. Rich or poor, home-owner or renter, you would have fibre to the building and you could use it if you wanted it.

The plan of the new coalition government is for fibre to the node (FTTN). Under this scheme the fibre NBN network would be terminated at a green box in the street somewhere near you, with the existing copper network doing the work from there to the building. Download/upload speeds will be about 25mbps/4mbps.

So you can see there is a big difference between FTTP and FTTN. Although both plans provide for increased speeds over time, the relative difference will continue. Fibre to the premises will always be significantly faster.

What if you want faster speeds than the moderate performance FTTN can deliver? Well, there is a plan for what’s called Fibre On Demand. Under this plan you can pay extra to have the fibre laid from the node (the green box in the street) to your building.

The node cabinets that will appear on a street near you

The node cabinets that will appear on a street near you

The costs are not clear yet, but will be related to the distance from the node to your building. The node should in most cases be within 800 metres. The cost will also reflect the difficulty of laying the cable. In some cases it might fit within existing Telstra tunnels, but in other cases trenches may need to be dug across roads and under footpaths and other services.

One estimate I’ve seen suggests you may be looking at more than $4,000 up front if the degree of difficulty is not too high plus $800 a year on top of your existing provider payments.

If you own your own home, you plan staying in it and you have a good income then fibre on demand might be an option.

But if you rent, and your lease could be terminated at any time, then I don’t think you’ll go for fibre on demand.

And if you live in a block of units, what would be the cost of getting it up to the top floor of the building to your unit?

What if you’re elderly, and need high speed broadband for “hospital in the home” medical monitoring? Could you afford it?

What if you’re unemployed, but could get a work-from-home job if you had fibre to your home?

So this new NBN plan of fibre to the node sets up a two-tier system:

  • high speed broadband for well-off home owners who can afford fibre on demand and
  • inferior broadband for everyone else.

Which will you have?

If you’d like more background information here is a copy of a recent podcast by the Alive 90.5 technology expert Peter Fowler:

      1. PeterFowlerOnNBN.mp3

Peter is interviewed on Alive 90.5 every Thursday at about 10:30am. The segment is called Computer Talk. You can listen to all past segments by going to his podcast page here:


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