The National Broadband Network says technical trials of a new technology, aimed at delivering much faster broadband internet speeds, have shown promising results.
“Fibre to the distribution point” involves running optical fibre to a pit within metres of a building, where it joins up with existing copper wires leading into the premises.
FTTDP’s potential speed is estimated at one Gigabit – or 1000 Megabits per second.
That compares with the copper-based “fibre to the node” – the Coalition Government’s currently preferred NBN technology – which can only deliver up to around 100 Mb/s.
The trials come as a recent report by US content delivery network Akamai confirms Australia’s continuing slide down global rankings, to 60th in the world, and 10th in the region, with average peak connection speeds of 39 megabits per second in the March quarter.
Singapore leads the worlds with speeds of 135 Mb/s.
Many industry experts continue to slam the widespread use of FTTN – which the Coalition argued was cheaper and quicker to roll out – ahead of “fibre to the premises’ or FTTP, which offers speeds of up to 10 Gigabit per second, but takes longer to deploy.
“The Government’s decision to change the NBN rollout from an all-fibre network to one that includes … obsolete and second-rate…copper-based technologies, was one of the worst technical decisions in Australia’s history” says Dr Mark Gregory of Melbourne’s RMIT University.
“How are we going to be an innovation nation if we don’t have speeds comparable to the rest of the world”, says Laurie Patton, Chief Executive of Internet Australia.
FTTDP is being trialled among NBN staff in around 30 homes in Sydney and Melbourne.
“Early results show, it’s doing exactly what we thought it would, in terms of speeds we can achieve over that last stretch of copper”, says NBN Co’s Public Affairs Manager, Tony Brown.
“So the real challenge is to work out how these things can be deployed at scale”.
Melbourne University’s Professor Rod Tucker is a former Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society.
“My view is that FTTP would be a much better outcome for Australia, but FTTDP would be a reasonable second-best because it would replace FTTN.
NBN Chief Executive Bill Morrow has said up to 300,000 premises could receive the new technology, instead of FTTN.
However, he’s indicated that fibre to the distribution point – which Labor is also eyeing as for its election platform – will not be a broad-based solution.