The cost of FTTC

The aspiration of giving everyone FTTP is what we all hope for, but the FW (Fixed Wireless) and Satellite choices are also valid for those that have barely nothing and are so remote as to require at this time very substantial investment per person to change that to FTTP.

The copper network did not and does not completely service all of Australia, there are pockets that still remain and probably now with the move to NBN will never ever be served by copper anyway. The reality of cost and what can be done are negotiable outcomes that need rigorous debate but also sensible compromise. As we advance our technology the outcomes will likely change towards better ones but it will take a long time.

In the interim what we now do will pave some/much of that path, so ditching FTTN, and even if it is in place or contracted it is still a costly beast to properly maintain so Govt just needs to bite that cost bullet and move to less costly in the long term alternatives. FTTC currently would add about $500 per household to move from FTTN, it is a bit more for areas that shouldn’t be FW or Satellite but are, but it’s still cheaper long term to move to better tech eg FTTC or FTTP (this cost includes social…people…costs). HFC is just another poorly thought out can of worms and again at least FTTC or FTTP would be much better longer term in cost and maintenance.

To restate the obvious and historical record is the following rehash of what has been said many times over by almost all on this forum and by many experts elsewhere:

Labor looked to even supply FTTP to towns of around 1,000 person populations (I’ll call it a hub town) and then only to use FW or Satellite for those outside that population size if required. Many smaller premises and populations would have been serviced by FTTP because it passed close by to them on it’s journey to hub towns and cities and so were economical to embrace with FTTP. Rudd’s design saw 90% of the population serviced by FTTP (this was increased to 93% on a review of what could be done) and only 10% (and after review 7%) serviced by FW and Satellite.

There was no FTTN (a huge ongoing maintenance cost) and it’s implementation and public service cost is really not well accounted for, HFC (a very costly implementation choice of the LNP and with moderate to high ongoing support costs). Satellite and FW because of an increased reliance on them have cost and service issues not accounted for under the MTM NBN plan either.

So yes FTTP as soon as we can, FTTC where we can to make an easier upgrade path to FTTP where FTTP is currently not doable economically. We hope they ditch everything else that really isn’t essential except to connect those whose placement requires FW and Satellite. This change requires a change of Government to something that embraces the “still supported by Labor” plan of FTTP.


although fibre cost more to deploy, it was likely to have a higher uptake – and cost was not prohibitive, the study found,

It depends on how we view the cost. At one of the links in an earlier post, the cost over time (remembering that optical fibre lasts a long, long time) was estimated at less than $1 per week for each premises. Big numbers tend to have Conservatives fouling their nappies, but the numbers really aren’t all that scary. Then, there’s the value (why is it that Conservatives seem to fear the cost of everything and not know the value of anything?). Of course, cabling the nation will still take a while, so we’ll need satellite and fixed wireless as stopgaps.


Yes the cost was seen as reasonable in the context of increasing the FTTP footprint by 3% and perhaps that footprint could now be expanded further but I agree there will be a long, perhaps extremely long, time before FW and Sat are not 3% or even 1% of the coverage

1 Like

Is this context the cost of upgrading an existing FTTN enabled area to FTTC or the differential between the two options before the build is commenced?

From the 2018 NBN Annual report, the difference for existing premises in construction cost between FTTN $2,244 and fibre FTTP $4,401 is significant. There is no separate cost for FTTC?

Of interest is that the cost of FTTP in green fields situations is only $2,255.
Perhaps the opportunity that was lost, has been to have not done a wholesale copper replacement?

IE Build the NBN by turning large copper connected sections of a suburb off, rip all the copper out leaving all without fixed line for a while, remediate the pits and conduits for bend radius etc, pull fibre in (up to 5-10km for many suburbs based on adsl coverage), and then commence turning people back on. :thinking: (3 month, 6 months, 6 years later)

Both the original and revised MTM plans chose not to go down this path for some reason? Compromised or political career ending options?

I appreciate the optimism for a full fibre future. At home at present the breakfast cereal is the only promise that can be relied upon in that direction. :joy:

With a new delivery date for FW for our part of the Glass House Mountains there is plenty of time for things to change, or just stay the same. We have been moved from 2019 to somewhere Jan-Jun 2020. Happy New Year! 🥳

I have been able to engage in writing (email) and directly with our local Federal MP, the NBN Co, and even Telstra over the previous months. At least they are communicating. It would be reassuring if there are other Choice Community members who have been able to open communication with their local Federal MP’s (any team colour). My attempts to communicate with the current opposition seeking further knowledge have not been replied to! Perhaps I need to seek answers to a different question. The Bill on the ALP Billboard down the highway is only offering a smiley face :grin: at present! :joy:

1 Like

The cost of FTTC?

What is not evident is where the fibre in this strategy will typically be pulled to replacing the copper line. It might be a modified NBN FTTN urban node using a FO coupler in place of a VDSL connection at the node? That appears to be the layout proposed for the existing urban area over the creek from here with streets further out on designed as FTTC in a FTTN area.
This report has an estimated average cost for FTTC of $2,900.

Given the average cost of FW is $4,300 per premise, it would be beneficial to know what service distance the FTTC cost relates to. Simplistically the cost of a technology upgrade for FW customers near to a fixed line service area should generate a credit of approx $1,400 on this basis. This is currently not on offer!


The FTTC is used when FTTN is leaving clients 1km or greater from the node and so just at or under the 25/5 guarantee. FTTC then is the choice that gives above that threshold. So you could assume that the fibre is passed down the conduit bypassing all the other houses on FTTN until it reaches the areas where people are under that 25/5. They then use DPU’s that are at least 4 port but up to 16 port to connect the houses/premises. The length of run of copper from the premises to the DPU must be under 120 m from memory as any longer and the reverse powering of the DPU from the households doesn’t work (too much loss/resistence). FTTC is really being pushed by NBN Co as it is cheaper for them in many cases than FW, FTTP, and is less likely to draw criticism from users who would have otherwise been suffering poor FTTN speeds.

To answer about the $500 cost to upgrade FTTN to FTTC, it is for work that hasn’t commenced or is in a very early stage. The cost is higher once FTTN has been deployed as copper connections have to be redone with DPUs and Fibre down the streets. Running fibre down streets has however become much cheaper and NBN have previously stated that the cost to fit FTTP is higher because of the difficultly of getting fibre from the street to the house not the running it down the street (and again why FTTC is favoured in this situation).


From the 2018 NBN Annual report, the difference for existing premises in construction cost between FTTN $2,244 and fibre FTTP $4,401 is significant.

That number is only significant if the context presumed accurately reflects the real life implications. Beyond a simple cost we must consider:

  • How much existing infrastructure needs replacing. The initial 2016 completion date presumed that every piece of existing infrastructure worked perfectly. They had to build a completely new node on my block!
  • The effect on business and economy. I’ve experienced loss of business in my workplace due to poor phone and internet. Yes we have FTTP anyway, but the old node appears to not be up to scratch and is prone to short out in rain (not a problem with full fiber)
  • The amount of time before the network becomes obsolete and needs replacing
  • The ongoing cost of repairs to aging infrastructure vs building it new now
  • The increased electricity costs of running copper networks compared to fiber
  • The overall uptake of a better network would be greater, improving revenue

Over a long period of time it may well wind up being far more expensive to use FTTN if these factors haven’t been considered


I’m beginning to wonder whether the real cost of FTTC is that it’s already obsolete. Largely as consequences of design decisions, it will be more cost-effective to replace what’s been built than to try to upgrade it. 1Gb/s is just so 2017. 10 Gb/s? That’s 2018!


Yes, It is very evident from the NBN 2019-2022 Corporate Plan released 31st August this year.

The plan indicates approx 1.4M FTTC of the total 11.6M premises expected to be RFS at completion in FY2020!

That FTTC can service beyond the nominal 1,100m limit of FTTN and service some FW customers offers some hope here for our Glass House Mtns home. Our property and two immediate neighbours share the one pit with another only 40m distant, although it is 2,000m to the nearest fibre connection (exchange).

It would appear likely still cheaper than FW x (3 or 4). All of us would sneak in under the 120m copper limit. It would be more practical than another FW tower in our area for only 75 properties over 3km?


Just as a bit of extra info read the following links:

(in the last article you will perhaps notice the name of the company supplying the DPUs)


I changed telcos and was forced onto NBN. It is a fixed wireless connection. I experience drop outs and often unable to even open e-mails. i tested the speed earlier today, it was 4.3 down .9 up Fastest so far is 7.1. I am deeply angry that as a consumer I was forced to accept a third rate service, my ADSL connection rarely went below 15 and now I have a connection that is often useless.


We were living in a rural area and were slated for Fixed wireless within two months. Turnbull won the election and suddenly we couldn’t get a connection date. Two years later we were offered satellite. With minimal download allowance and bandwidth and speed problems we had no net gain in internet usability. we lived only five Kms from a Telstra exchange but could never get ADSL because of filters on the line. Rural people are actively discriminated against.


One of the real issues with NBN (and most other big programs) is the pollies know that most of us are not single issue voters. They weigh up their spin and utter BS against how many votes it might lose or win, and off they go.

Whatever one thought of Kevin Rudd, his recent comments that Murdoch (newscorp) actively undermined his government to kill or permanently damage the NBN seem to ring true. One could not imagine even the likes of a very conservative well meaning pollie would have consciously made such a bad decision as Turnbull under Abbott (and the lot of them who subsequently had their fingers involved), in the face of expert advice unless it was so and the Liberals then had a ‘debt’ to pay.


The alternative question is:

Do rural people have an expectation of the same level of services at the same cost which exist in towns and cities?

Maybe this is the more appropriate question.

Another question is whether any of us should expect a new service to at least equal the old, and a follow-on, have a functional if not quality service available even if at a premium cost.

My answer would be yes, and yes.

I remember 50 years ago when metro dwellers did pay a premium so costs were more level for the regions and few seemed to complain.

Now if one looks at the regions there are fewer opportunities, lower incomes, higher costs, and the cities are increasingly the only ‘solution’ to get by netting more congestion and housing pressure, yet how many of us are willing to revert to the norms of those decades where Australia was (\literary license) one, large, consistently priced and serviced place (+/- quite a bit, location dependent). (/literary license).

Today it appears many equate everything to dollars, costs, and economic value rather than functionality or efficacy (excepting for P/L) rather than societal or national value.

I was responsible for delivering a major national service for a few years. Until about 2005 the government edict was that everyone had to be served equally across the country, when government then evolved to focus on budget, user pays, put all the money where the population (and votes) are, and so on.


It may be useful to others if you can relate more about this experience. There is a recently created topic especially for NBN Fixed Wireless issues.

We were recently advised that customers in our area on ADSL in a FW area could keep the service. The source ‘Minister for Communications’ and local Federal MP. I’m still to locate exactly the same answer on the NBN Co web site.

1 Like

Hello Mark. I had an ongoing dispute with Telstra over my account and when they e-mailed me to tell me my plan had gone from $60pm to $80pm I decided to change my provider. I elected to take a triple bundle with Southern Phone, when I asked them if I could continue with ADSL they told me because I was a new customer I would have to accept #NBN fixed wireless, that they were not allowed to sign up new customers to ADSL if #NBN was available.

Needless to say I am disgusted with the quality of the connection, this morning I did a speed test and 3.7 down and .86 up. This is surely the only business in the country that people in rural areas are forced onto that provides a deeply inferior service to customers.


The thing that has really made me angry is that I had no choice with the connection because I changed Telcos, I knew FW was much slower than ADSL but the new telco was not allowed to put me on ADSL because NBN was available. It’s a bit like telling some people they can only have a twin tub washer because of where they live.


We were not terribly remote rural and as I said we lived only five Kms from a Telstra exchange. What I didn’t mention is that the NBN fibre cable was underground at our front gate. ( Another long story) But yes, I do believe all citizens should be treated equally.


Australian tradition is that the more fortunate help the less fortunate. In the past, that has involved some level of cross-subsidisation. Privatisation is inconsistent with that Australian ethic. The private sector is inclined to cherry-pick the most lucrative markets and ignore the rest.