FTTX vs FTTP vs FTTN vs FTTB vs HFC: What’s the difference?

  • How to differentiate the various NBN connection types
  • Which Type of NBN Connection is The Fastest?
  • Can I Choose My NBN Connection Type?

How to differentiate the various NBN connection types

Australia has a diverse industry when it comes to broadband connections. This is evidenced by the number of connections available to consumers on top of the bundles offered by different service providers. At the same time, it is streamlined so it’s not difficult for anyone to select what is most appropriate for their needs.

But if you’re new to the endeavor, it can still get a little confusing going over the choices. So if you are planning to get a connection soon, you might want to read this article first.

FTTX vs FTTP vs FTTN vs FTTB vs HFC: What’s the difference?

These terms all refer to a specific type of NBN connection that allows consumers access to fast connection speeds. They all typically use optic fibre because of the faster upload and download capabilities, but there are also instances where conventional fibre, copper, and other technologies are used.

FTTX (Fibre to the X) is an umbrella term for all types of fibre connections which vary depending on where termination is done for the optical fibre.

FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) means the fibre is connected to the structure (your house or office). The cable is not terminated anywhere else but within your premises.

FTTN (Fibre to the Node) refers to the type where the fibre is located near your office or house. This node acts as the point of connection between the structure and the fibre.

FTTB (Fibre to the Building/Basement) means the fibre is terminated at the building. This is typically done for buildings with multiple units, where individual units may be serviced differently.

HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) is a type that is generally used in metropolitan areas. It refers to the process of connecting properties to a particular NBN type that has a pay TV or cable network.

Which is the better option?

Now that you know their basic differences, the next step is determining which of them is the best fit for you.

While each service provider offers a unique broadband package to their consumers, there are metrics used to make comparisons between brands easier regardless of the connection type. They are as follows:

Speed

Speed is the main consideration (and #1 dealbreaker) for consumers. It’s the biggest determining factor for anyone who is in search of a good deal from broadband companies. And among all the options mentioned above, FTTP is considered the best because of its speed.

FTTP lists download speeds reaching 100Mbps and upload speeds of 40Mbps. Some companies also offer 1 Gbps and 400MBps for downloads and uploads, respectively.

If speed is all that matters to you and nothing else, you might want to look into service providers offering FTTP NBN connection. But you have to keep in mind that connection speeds may also vary depending on how far you are located from the node and which speed tier you are planning to avail.

Cost

NBNCo covers the installation costs, so there is really not much difference in this aspect. But your monthly internet expenditure lies on the speed tier that you select. In some cases, you may also be charged an activation fee depending on your chosen internet service provider.

Going for a higher speed tier means you will have to pay more because you enjoy faster download and upload speeds. And this is why it is important to know what you will be using the internet for. If you only need it for web browsing and other simple tasks, a 12BMbps speed could be enough. But if you are into games, streaming, or anything that requires Ultra-High Definition, 50 to 100Mbps would be a great deal.

Equipment

Depending on the type of connection you are getting, the required equipment also varies. FTTP and FTTB connections require a modem router that is VDSL2-ready. Having a router allows you to connect multiple devices, making it ideal for a household with several members.

FTTP and HFC connections, meanwhile, need a wireless router. Consumers with HFC connections are also provided with an NBN Utility Box located outside the house and an NBN Connection Box inside the premises. The wireless router must be connected to the Connection Box so you can use the internet in all of your devices.

With FTTN, there is no need for a router or a connection box because you will be connected to a utility box installed by the NBNCo outdoors.

All of the equipment is covered by NBNCo for free. 

Installation Process

As you may already know, the type of NBN connection you can get depends on your location and which type is available in your area. But between FTTN and FTTP, the former is faster to rollout than the latter. This means that there is a shorter wait for consumers when you apply for a connection.

FTTN has a faster deployment rate because of the availability of existing copper lines, meaning there is less infrastructure needed for the termination.

Then again, everything depends on where you are located and what is available in your area. But at least you will have an idea of how long it would take for your internet connection to be set up once you apply for installation.

Lifespan

Last but not least is the lifespan of your connection type. Among the top NBN connection types, FTTC and FTTP are considered top-tier for their long life cycle. These two also have cheaper maintenance costs, although they are mainly incurred by the government and not the individual consumer.

For a general overview, the materials used for FTTN connections retain their quality for about 5 to 20 years. This is significantly shorter than the 20 to 40-year lifespan of FTTP. Simply put, your service provider may encounter downtimes every now and then if you are connected to an FTTP. And while this is totally normal, it can disrupt your daily internet activities.

At the end of the day, consumers don’t have much luxury in choosing their connections. What you should be paying more attention to are your service provider’s packages.