NBN Reckons It Can Now Deliver Fibre Speeds Over Copper

NBN Reckons It Can Now Deliver Fibre Speeds Over Copper
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NBN Co is exploring the development of new devices that will let it fuse Australia’s existing copper infrastructure onto its HFC cable footprint and backhaul, the company has revealed.

The devices would essentially allow NBN Co to use its cable infrastructure to provide existing copper lead-ins with enough bandwidth to achieve vectored VDSL2 speeds. Vectored VDSL2 is a newer generation copper-based broadband technology capable of speeds up to 100Mbps over distances of half-a-kilometre.

At a Nokia event hosted at NBN’s offices in Sydney last week, Fairfax Media asked NBN Co chief technology officer Dennis Steiger about the feasibility of such an approach to serving broadband to premises within the cable footprint.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” Mr Steiger said, before explaining that NBN Co’s plans to implement it were already in development.

“We’ve actually been working on that for some time now and we’re just in the final phases of patenting it”.

“The technology actually works. We’ve built prototypes that prove that it will work in the field so we’re going to see if there’s any interest beyond our own application,” Mr Steiger said.

A spokesman for NBN Co said, however, that the concept was still in the nascent stages of development and that the company wasn’t in a position to launch anything yet.

The development of the devices would dovetail nicely with NBN Co’s plan to give its network an upgrade path using VDSL2+ successors G.Fast and XG.FAST which can push copper speeds up to a Gigabit and multi-Gigabits respectively.

Mr Steiger’s comments coincided with NBN Co and Nokia’s first ever announcement that they would trial next generation, XG.FAST copper broadband technology in Australian conditions.

If NBN Co can succeed in developing a device that brings existing copper lead-ins within range of HFC backhaul then it could make these speeds available to millions of premises without the added cost of installing new HFC lead-ins.

That could also be good news for up to 1.5 million premises which were cut from the HFC component of the national network in the company’s latest corporate plan and moved to FTTN.

“One of the things that’s really, really different about NBN is that we have access to HFC, and we have access to twisted pair and fibre so we can do things in really unique ways, and I think we’re regularly finding paths with some of the technology that we’re creating,” said Mr Steiger.

NBN Co planned to connect 4 million customers to its HFC cable assets. However, in its 2017 corporate plan NBN recalculated its average cost to connect premises within its HFC footprint from $1800 up to $2300. (According to respected telecommunications daily, CommsDay, it’s understood that the cost blowout was due to a miscalculation of premises needing expensive underground HFC cable lead-ins)

If fully developed, the HFC-copper fusion device would be a new class of the NBN Co’s so-called “micro-nodes”. It revealed its first last March when it demonstrated an Alcatel-Lucent fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) device also capable of saving the network builder on expensive civil construction works.

NBN Co showed that FTTdp, which also uses copper lead-ins, could provide high-speed broadband access to premises with existing copper in relatively sparsely populated semi-rural areas with a fibre thoroughfare nearby.

NBN Co’s latest estimate is that that up to 500,000 homes could be served using FTTdp.

This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald’s home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


  • So that would be over copper in good condition?
    Not sure how that’s gonna work with some of the crap they have that’s been in the ground for what, a century? I seem to recall other companies touting similar results well before now. Also, everybody I know in my area that has copper attached to a node, has lost speed and quality.

  • Is it just me or are we continually being asked to accept Telstra’s copper as the only solution ultimately allowing them to continue to have a stranglehold on the Australia telecommunications network?!

    If I didn’t know any better I’d say Telstra and the Coalition Government were in bed together.

  • I think this might be their version of a ‘solution’ to rolling the NBN out on target rather than having to extend the deadline. If they can deliver what they promise? Sure, I’ll bite. But when did ISPs and the Govt ever deliver on what they promise hmm?

  • And “clean coal” is just around the corner too! Remember when it was only a matter of time before we could burn metric shit-tonnes of the stuff because they managed to mitigate a fraction of the emissions in a controlled lab?

    I’m all for ingenuity but not spending bucket loads of cash to work out a half-arsed solution that will end up costing twice as much. And that’s before the cost of finally doing it all properly after.

  • where the fuck did these people learn economics? paying for something now (as in the laid fibre) is cheaper than it will be in say 20 years time (prob about when all the copper starts to fail again). oh, i forgot, Mr Dickwad (Steiger) get’s a phat bonus if delivered on time and on budget… who gives zero fucks about the technology involved and what the people want (in say 20 years time), where he’ll be happily retired in his mansion and his gran kiddies go to private schools.

  • Absolute spin. These .fast protocols only work over 30 meters of copper.

    Sorry NBN, not only are you now years late in delivery you are wasting time looking at things not even out of the labs, and with dubious use.

    Copper is a dead tech, it’s a waste of money, and each time it rains the entire country suffers.

  • yeah note the distance from the node/exchange is key to these speeds…

    Service rate performance targets over 0.5 mm straight loops[A][1]
    Distance Performance target[B]
    <100 m, FTTB 500–1000 Mbit/s
    100 m 500 Mbit/s
    200 m 200 Mbit/s
    250 m 150 Mbit/s
    500 m 100 Mbit/s[18]

  • I am trying to work out how cheaper it will be to run a copper twin pair from the overhead HFC to the home than just running a HFC leading directly to the building. Seeing that most HFC is strung up on the power poles and most of the Telstra copper is in the ground.

  • NBN Co is as high as the satellites they use for rural Au internet.
    Sure let’s dump EVEN MORE cash into the aged (not aging, that’s long since passed) copper network and buy what… maybe another year before we have to go to fttp anyway? Duuuuuuumb.

  • Ummm Sorry to tell you NBN but scientific fact disagrees with you. Sure Copper can deliver those speeds. As long as you are right next to the node. Meanwhile for the rest of Australia thats never gonna happen unless you place a node outside every house.

    NBN goes further down the shitter thanks to Turdbull and Scabbot

  • 1) The fibre being deployed today is running at 2.488Gbit.
    2) Every single customer ‘modem’ listens to the entire 2.488Gbit which says that that speed is possible per end user.
    3) 100mbit is the artificial product created out of the constraints of sharing that 2.488.
    Therefore the claim that 100mbit is “fibre speeds” is objectively false in every sense.

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