“If we choose to deliver FTTC in an area served by FTTN all we need to do is link into the fibre that is already serving the cabinet and then – with a very small amount of work at the nearby pit – we can run ‘skinny fibre’ from that pit through existing ducting into the streets to deploy FTTC,” Ryan said.
“We run that fibre into the Distribution Point Units (DPUs) in the telecom pit in front of people’s homes and connect into the existing copper line serving the home and we are done.
“This is the real benefit of FTTN, it allows us to deliver nbn services to end-users in a time and cost effective manner which allows us to connect end-users much sooner than we could with other technologies – but also provides a simple upgrade path to higher-speeds,” he said.
Additionally, Ryan suggests that, on a project the size of the NBN, it would not be practicable to dismiss the 18 months or more of design, planning and construction work already in the pipeline for FTTN deployment to millions of homes and change them to FTTC.
“If we were to do this, to put it quite simply, we would have to tell residents in several million premises that were scheduled to get nbn services over the next 18 months via FTTN that they would not now be getting connected for another two to three years as we’d have to re-start the entire design, planning and construction process,” Ryan said.
“A good example of how these things work would be how nbn gradually scaled down the Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) rollout following the move to the Multi-Technology-Mix policy after the 2013 Federal Election.
“The nbn is like an enormously long train, you can’t just bring things to a complete stop and change direction, it just doesn’t work that way and never will,” he said.
Meanwhile, nbn’s executive general manager of corporate affairs, Karina Keisler, maintains that the company continues to remain committed to deliver the HTTC technology to 700,000 premises – as previously announced last year – including around 400,000 currently covered by the Optus HFC infrastructure.
Regardless, Keisler suggested that, for an FTTC deployment in an FTTN area, an existing nbn FTTN cabinet would continue to run services over the legacy copper lines while FTTC is being deployed in that area.
“Over time most of a neighbourhood might migrate over to FTTC services – so eventually an FTTN cabinet may be turned off once all end-users are on FTTC – but it could then be re-purposed for other future uses.
“In the instance that we did turn off the FTTN cabinet for delivering VDSL services then at the very least we can be confident the assets would have by then delivered revenues for nbn for a very lengthy period of time and would have paid back the original nbn investment in the area,” she said.
At present, Keisler said that nbn estimates that, based on its initial limited trials, it will cost around $2,800 per premises for FTTC.
“But more work is needed in the field,” she said.
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