FTTN NBN Explained

Find out more about FTTN connections on the NBN, how they work and their potential speeds.

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, updated on September 20th, 2023       

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There are various connection types when it comes to hooking homes and businesses up to the National Broadband Network (NBN), with one of the most common being FTTN. Although there’s no choice involved in the connection type you have available, it’s still important to understand how it works if it’s available to you.

Dive into the inner workings of FTTN connections in Savvy’s comprehensive guide. Learn more about the equipment involved in its installation, how it connects you to the NBN and what its potential speed capabilities are right here with us today!

What is a FTTN connection for the NBN and how does it work?

FTTN, which stands for Fibre to the Node, is a type of NBN connection which combines fibre optic and existing copper infrastructure to deliver internet plans to homes and businesses. Unlike Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), where fibre optic cables run directly to your premises, FTTN utilises the existing copper phone infrastructure in your area to establish a connection.

Here's how FTTC works:

  1. NBN Point of Interconnect: fibre optic cables running from the nearest NBN Point of Interconnect connect to a node close to your home.
  2. Copper connection from the node: from the node, a copper line connects to your home, carrying the remainder of the internet signal.
  3. Data distribution: once the FTTN connection and other required equipment are set up, you can enjoy internet suitable for various online activities, including streaming, online gaming, video conferencing, and more.

It’s important to note that, as mentioned, individuals and businesses don’t have a say when it comes to the connection type available to them, so you won’t be able to select FTTN or another connection type off the bat, but it’s still important to understand how it functions.

How is my FTTN NBN connection installed and what equipment do I need?

The installation of an FTTN NBN connection is very simple and typically only involves these steps:

  1. Modem router: all you'll need for a FTTN connection is a compatible modem router, namely one which supports VDSL2 connections. This can either be included for free or an additional charge by your provider or purchased independently (such as from a previous connection). You’ll need to connect this to a phone wall socket and its own power source to power it up.
  2. Activation: once the physical installation takes place and your modem router is turned on, your internet connection will be established shortly after. You'll receive instructions on how to set up your Wi-Fi network and devices.

The process is one of the easiest on the NBN, with all the work able to be done by you in a matter of minutes to ensure your connection is up and running before you know it.

How fast are FTTN NBN connections?

FTTN NBN connections can offer high-speed internet but are only capable of supporting speed tiers up to NBN 100, which is 100Mbps (megabits per second). This means FTTN connections are unable to provide you with access to higher speed tiers such as NBN 250 and NBN 1000, both of which can only be supported by FTTP and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connections.

However, because a greater portion of your overall physical connection is made up of copper lines, even maximum NBN 100 speeds may not be achievable if your home or business is more than 400m away from the node. Speeds may degrade to a maximum of 60Mbps in these cases. For homes upwards of 700m from the node, NBN 50 may be the fastest realistic option available.

Regardless of your distance from the node, though, other factors such as network congestion and the provider you choose can have a bearing on the speeds you experience on your plan. To get the best performance from your FTTN NBN connection, consider selecting an NBN plan which aligns with your internet usage needs and ensure your Wi-Fi router can handle the maximum speed offered by your plan.

Common questions about FTTN NBN connections

How do I upgrade my FTTN connection to FTTP?

Some Australians may be eligible for a free upgrade from an existing FTTN connection to FTTP through NBN Co. In most cases, you’ll need to upgrade to a higher-speed plan through your provider as part of this process. However, if you aren’t eligible for a free upgrade, you may still be able to do so at a potentially high cost.

What are my alternatives if I don’t want to connect to the NBN?

There are several other options available if you don’t wish to sign up for the NBN. These include:

  • Home wireless broadband: utilises mobile networks (either 4G or 5G) to establish an internet connection
  • Fibre internet: another fixed line broadband connection, but privately owned to run in competition with the NBN (although availability for this type of connection is much more limited)
  • Mobile broadband: works similarly to home wireless, but is designed more for on-the-go use than a stable connection
How much will my FTTN NBN plan cost?

The cost of an FTTN NBN plan can vary depending on a range of factors, with the main one being the speed tier you choose; the higher the maximum speed, the more you’re likely to spend. Additionally, plans may also vary in cost based on contract terms and any additional services or features included. Prices are typically outlined by your chosen provider, so it's worth comparing plans from different providers to help you find one which meets your needs and budget.

What happens to my connection in an NBN outage?

During an NBN outage, your internet connection will be disrupted. The exact duration of the outage and the cause can vary. To address this:

  1. Check for outages in your area: use an online outage checker, look up your internet service provider's website and search their social media for outage information and updates.
  2. Restart your modem: to rule out the possibility of a modem issue, it’s worth resetting your modem and seeing if this restores your internet.
  3. Contact your provider: if the outage persists or if it's a widespread issue, contact your NBN service provider for assistance and updates on when service will be restored.
  4. Look for alternative connections: if you have a mobile data plan or a mobile hotspot, you can use your smartphone or mobile device to stay online. Alternatively, you may wish to move to a public Wi-Fi network.

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Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an internet plan. For further information on the variety of internet plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.