A peak body representing internet users has proposed that the federal government abandon fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology for the national broadband network in favour of ‘fibre-to-the-driveway.’
Internet Australia says this technology – technically known as ‘fibre-to-the-distribution-point or FTTdp – would see fibre cabling run all the way to a point at or near the boundary to homes and commercial buildings.
From there, existing copper could, if necessary, still be used in the short term. Alternatively, copper wires could be replaced, at any time now or in the future, with fibre to the building, Internet Australia said.
This approach would provide a future-proofed network and avoid the need for a costly re-build in 10 to 15 years’ time when copper is no longer fit for purpose, Internet Australia said.
Internet Australia, CEO, Laurie Patton, urged the government and opposition to put politics aside and agree on a bipartisan NBN strategy.
He said new technology – such as ‘skinny fibre’ which NBN is now using – is providing a viable alternative to the copper-based FTTN model. This technology was not available when the decision was made to adopt FTTN, which underpins the current mixed technology method.
“Both the government and the opposition have highlighted the need for Australia to become an innovation nation. To do this, we require high speed internet connectivity on par with countries in our region also seeking to be innovation hubs,” said Patton.
“One of our biggest competitors, Singapore, already provides consumers with Internet access at speeds 100 times faster than ours. New Zealand is in front of us in a number of rankings and is ahead in its overall broadband rollout.
“Now, some commentators will say that it is easier to build a broadband network in smaller territories like Singapore and New Zealand. However we didn’t use this as an excuse to build roads and railways across the country, or to not provide telephones to people living in regional and remote areas,” he said.
The overall cost of construction of the national broadband network has come down over time as NBN has refined its operating practices and achieved economies of scale, irrespective of the technology chosen. This will likely be the case for the lifetime of this project, Internet Australia said.
Patton said that while supporting FTTdp is an interim step, Internet Australia remains of the view that a full FTTP network must be the ultimate goal.
"Anything less than FTTP is an inferior solution," he said.
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