What You Need to Know About the Different NBN Connection Types

  • What NBN Connection Types Are There?
  • What Does My NBN Connection Type Mean For Me?
  • What Plans Are Available To Me Now That I Know My NBN Type?

Different NBN Connection Types

When NBN Co. was established in 2009, Australia became one step closer to full digital connectivity. Fast forward to 11 years later, the nationwide broadband access network is about to be fully completed with millions of people benefiting from it.

If you are living in popular suburbs around Australia, there is a good chance you are connected to the internet through an NBN infrastructure. But did you know that there are various types of connections depending on where you live?

NBN is one massive network and it aims to provide the public access to a reliable broadband connection according to their preferences, usage requirements, and paying capacity. This explains why there are also several types of NBN connections.

These connection types can be divided into two main categories: the Fixed-Line and the Fixed Wireless and Satellite NBN Connection Types. For each of these two main categories, there are also subtypes which will be further explained in this article.

Now, you may think there is no point in understanding these types because the government decides which type you are getting based on where you are located. But knowing the characteristics of each connection type can be helpful in case you decide to move to another place in the future or if you happen to be maintaining a property, whether residential or commercial, in another state. 

Fixed-Line NBN Connection Types

NBN’s Fixed-Line Connection uses fibre optic cables to transmit the internet to a customer’s premises. These fibre optic cables are composed of thousands of glass strands that resemble human hair, with another layer of glass wrapped around the central fibre allowing light to bounce off the walls.

Compared to the classic copper cable, light travels faster in a fibre optic cable, making it possible for data to transmit at higher speeds and longer distances without affecting the signal. Simply put, users are given a more stable and faster connection.

The most common reasons for an unreliable connection are distance from the exchange (where the internet comes from) and the quality of the copper line - with a lot of the copper lines here being old and hence susceptible to breaking. Unlike copper wires, fibre cables are resistant to ground currents and noise, which are among the leading causes of signal disruption. They also have the capacity to support higher bandwidths, meaning there is a lower chance of network congestion.

NBN’s fixed-line connections vary depending on where the fibre optic cable is connected. They are as follows:

  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

Fibre to the Premises or what others refer to as Fibre to the Home is considered NBN’s best product offering. With this type of connection, the fibre optic cable runs directly to your premises, ensuring higher speeds and stable connection.

However, it is also the least common connection in all of Australia, with only around 21% of premises in the country havingi FTTP connection. This is attributed to the cost of installation, which discouraged the government from launching a mass rollout for this specific type.

It is worth noting, however, that customers have the option to upgrade their connection to FTTP so long as you are willing to shoulder the expenses.

  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN)

Fibre to the Node is the most common type of connection among NBN users in Australia. This is because it does not completely use the more advanced fibre optic cables entirely. Instead, FTTN only runs the fibre optic cable to the central location.

From this central location or “node” that is usually located at the end of a street or between several streets, the readily available copper wires are used to connect to the consumers’ households. This allows installation costs to remain more budget-friendly for NBN. The downside, however, is a much slower internet speed than FTTP, generally speaking.

  • Fibre to the Building (FTTB)

Fibre to the Building, also known as Fibre to the Basement, is another NBN connection type that is very similar to FTTN. The only difference is that instead of running the cable to a node at the end of the street, the central location of the wires is found in the basement or building.

This connection type is common among apartment blocks, condominiums, and office blocks.

  • Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)

Fibre to the Curb is the midpoint between the costlier FTTP and slower FTTN. It is capable of providing a faster connection than the FTTN because the fibre optic cable is connected to the closest possible point to the premises.

This means that the central location of the fibre is typically placed just metres away from the premises instead of one mile like that in FTTN.

Based on the latest estimates, NBN Co. is looking to have around 1.4 million premises equipped with FTTC connections by 2020.

  • Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC cable)

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial is the oldest technology in the NBN network. It is used for households that have pay-TV cable, effectively reducing the costs and time it takes to install a broadband connection. Given the age of this technology, NBN is only servicing a small number of customers with an HFC connection.

The good thing about it, though, is that the wires are insulated. This means there is less interference and it is very possible for speeds to come close to FTTP’s level.

Fixed Wireless and Satellite NBN Connection Types

If Fixed-Line Connections are common in city centres and highly urbanised areas, NBN’s Fixed Wireless Connections are typically found in rural areas. This is because properties in these regions are normally far from each other, making it more challenging and costlier to lay down fibre cables.

If you happen to live in a rural area and you are currently looking to get an internet connection, here’s what you need to know.

  • Fixed wireless

Rural areas have limited access to infrastructure, so instead of running the wires directly to the premises or nodes, they are directed to a transmission tower. These transmission towers then broadcast the connection from as far as 14 kilometres away to your household’s antenna.

Aside from an NBN antenna that should be installed by an official NBN installer, customers who got Fixed Wireless connections will also need to have an NBN connection box, as well as a fixed power source.

  • Satellite

Satellite is another example of a Fixed Wireless Connection that is typically offered by NBN in the most far-flung areas of Australia. For this specific type, the connection is broadcasted to a satellite dish, which will then transmit the signal to your house.

Aside from the satellite dish, users will also need a modem installed in the property and connected to a power source. This is ideal for places where there is no available internet infrastructure.

As you know by now, customers are not given much choice when it comes to the connection types they can ultimately get because the government makes the decision. But the good thing is that there are different types of NBN broadband plans that customers can choose from.

Be sure to keep in mind that your location plays a role in the types of services that are available to you. This includes the speed limit and maximum data allowance. If you think you would need more data allocation in your broadband plan, do not hesitate to inquire about it when you contact a service provider.