Ask LH: Is Connecting To NBN FTTN A Waste Of Money?

Ask LH: Is Connecting To NBN FTTN A Waste Of Money?

Dear Lifehacker, I recently had NBN FTTN made available at my house. My questions are: Do I bother signing up for FTTN and get stuck on outdated tech? I realise I shouldn’t complain about getting faster internet, but I feel that getting the FTTN right now is bad timing. Do I hold off for FTTP or fibre to the driveway? If the government changes the plan to roll out FTTP or another type of technology, will I be stuck on FTTN while everyone else gets the latest and greatest? Are there any plans/suggestions that FTTN enabled areas will ever be upgraded if the government changes the rollout plan? Thanks, Fibre To The No Idea


The NBN is a mess. We all know this, and with an election (and new technology) on the horizon, it’s understandable to be sceptical of the possibility of getting ‘stuck’ with FTTN. There are two things to consider as you think about upgrading, however — how much is it going to cost you to connect to the NBN, and just how bad is the timing anyway?

You have lots of options when it comes to picking a provider, and though prices will vary, you’re looking at around $100/month or more for superfast internet with either 1000GB or unlimited data included. iiNet, for example, has 1000GB of superfast internet for $99.99 on a 24 month contract. Of course, on FTTN, there’s no guarantee that superfast plans will actually be superfast, and you can get slower ‘boost’ plans for something closer to $70. A number of providers also do month-to-month plans if you don’t want to be locked into this plan for the next two year.

The thing to consider, however, is that the NBN is as much a political football as anything, and politics moves slowly. It’s highly unlikely that an upgraded NBN would be rolled out in your area within the next 24 months anyway, even if FTTP, FTTdp or any other technology moves back onto the NBN agenda in the next couple of months.

The Coalition’s original plan to move to FTTN was announced after the 2013 election, yet it wasn’t until the end of 2014 when the FTTN rollout even began to show some momentum.

While the FTTN that you now have available at your house is essentially already outdated technology, it’s (unfortunately) likely to be the only boost to your internet speeds that you’ll see within the next few years. It’s up to you whether you choose to upgrade or not, but remember you can always go for a month-to-month plan if you don’t want to be locked into a 24 month contract.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • If you have FTTN available to your area, you won’t be getting an upgrade any time soon. Might as well get off the aged copper.

      • I meant copper from your house to the exchange. Now the “exchange” is a little closer, so you’ll get a little better connection.

    • I think the reply should have been in the form of a question, “What sort of connection do you already have?” And maybe followed up by what speeds do you get, what does it cost and what do you want/need it for?

      If the person has a decent ADSL2 connection they could be seeing 20ish MBit speeds. For a lot of people that might be perfectly adequate and there is no performance reason to upgrade. Of course, there could be other reasons like higher download quotas or cheaper monthly bills. So, long story short – needs more information from the original asker before giving a proper answer.

  • Yeah if you got FTTN, you’ll be at the end of the list for any potential FTTP. just like I’m in a relative area with OK copper , were at the end of the list for NBN.

    • Then I hope Caloundra near me in Queensland gets it soon because I heard from a Telstra technician that the copper there “won’t last another summer.” 🙁

  • We’ve got HFC NBN going into our area at the moment. Does anybody know what the speeds are like with that? I’ve looked online and I can’t really seem to find a solid answer.

      • Even if 25 is the new max I’ll be happy. At the moment I have 2.8 down/0.8 up.

      • Here’s hoping it’s good then! (My hopes aren’t too high on my area though)
        As I replied above and below, I currently get 2.8 Mbps and turn wifi off to watch YouTube.

    • Its going to vary, and in the future potentially vary wildly, but I’ve had friends report up to around 80 Mbps connections. Expect around half that most of the time though, that seems a more stable expectation.

      • I’d be extremely happy with 40 most of the time – my current 2.8 just isn’t cutting it.

    • Speeds are likely to be much better, on average, than they are with FTTN. The upgrade prospects for HFC are brighter. You should get close to 100Mbps or maybe even above (depending on when you can get a plan higher than 100Mbps). HFC is capable of a fair bit.

      • I should say that I’m referring to the huge bolstering that the HFC is going to receive from the NBN. Current speeds on HFC are not a good indicator of what to expect from the NBN’s upgrade of the HFC!

  • Just to rub salt into everyone’s NBN wounds I’ve got FTTP and it’s amazing. 😀

    • Same here, just got 100/40 FTTP yesterday.

      I think there are a few points missed here.

      First, it is pointless to compare any current ADSL or other Fixed Line access to what you may get on NBN FTTN. This is because now that you have it available, the old copper lines will be deactivated roughly 18 months after NBN was switched on. If you currently use 4G or similar, then compare and decide if you need any fixed line access.

      In terms of upgrade, forget it. I live in Dubbo NSW and our whole town was set to get FTTP. After the last election decided FTTN was “better”, there ended up being only 2 out of 7 sections that was far enough along to continue with FTTP, while the rest was changed to FTTN instead.

      NBN isn’t even completed yet, so don’t expect any upgrades to anything until at least the majority is running. That will be when there will be talks of maybe upgrading some areas to a faster technology.

      So in summary, decide if you need fixed line or not (home phone/internet or stick with Mobile). If you need or want the fixed line, then connect to the FTTN, its your only choice for fixed line.

  • I’m on ADSL2+ in an area where the copper is ancient and it has taken me 7 years of constant faults to finally get a decent line. Does anyone know, if in several years time when they finally roll out FTTN in my area, would switching to FTTN mean that I could loose my reliable line? For this reason at this stage I’m not considering taking up FTTN as reliability is more important to me than the promise of possibly having a marginally faster connection. I’d rather wait for FTTP for FTTdp and I don’t care how long that takes.

    • I can’t see why not.

      Fibre to the Node, then your existing line is cut and connected to the node.

      In theory, it means it should be more reliable as you would then have less of your existing copper line + the rest in Fibre.

    • I don’t see why you wouldn’t. Not like you’ll get fibre to your premises any time soon anyway. Might as well upgrade. Up to you if the costs are justified.

    • Your line will stay untouched all the way to the pillar, which is before the node cabinet. What they do at the pillar as part of the migration to FTTN is the wildcard. As the then chief technology officer of British Telecom said about FTTN, “it imposes huge unreliability risks.” You just have to wait and see.

      FTTP or FTTdp would not be for at least several years after FTTN winds up and that’s only under a sympathetic Labor government. Labor MP Lisa Chesters in Bendigo has indicated that existing FTTN areas would be a “two-stage process,” so there’s hope. But the massive further expense required to get any speed increase beyond FTTN (, which requires FTTdp) does not help your (and my) situation.

  • After completion of FTTN and the suburb is made Ready For Service, there is a transition period of 18 months after which the whole suburb will be forced onto NBN and they lose their existing ADSL/ADSL2/2+ service. Just like the switchoff of analogue TV for digital. So you can’t boycott it without paying (thousands) for your own dedicated internet link….

  • As someone who works on the rollout it so sad to see how poor the whole thing is progressing. FTTN is just a shit waste of billions of dollars and will be pulled back out and done properly down the track. Most of whats been rolled out so far has been FTTP so there hasn’t been a whole lot of backlash yet. Just wait until large numbers of people start connecting to FTTN and realise how shit it really is. I would personally be waiting unless my connection was really poor. Rather than looking at saving costs by using FTTN they could save tens of billions by doing the rollout properly.

  • does not require FTTdp. It’s a technology for improving speed over copper it works anywhere up to 500m of copper line. So it’s entirely possible that people on FTTN will get a speed upgrade without having to switch to fibre. Although it is true that it is much faster at the short distances that a FTTdp deployment would have. You can still get 100mb+ speeds over 100m of copper with and FTTN.

    • How about uploads? You’re talking a-sync speeds where it’s skewed massively towards Rx but there’s SFA Tx bandwidth.

      • In this case speed includes both upload and download. It’s up to the provider to offer different speed configurations so 90/10mb or 50/50mb. Although FTT basement or distribution point is still better with 300/300mb plans possible.

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