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What is the NBN?

By mnovak

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The NBN, National Broadband Network, is a plan to upgrade or replace existing old copper wires used for telecommunications network, with high efficiency fibre-optic cables. It is Australia’s largest infrastructure project to the date. NBN will increase the performance of broadband services and phone by providing a faster and more durable connection. Replacing traditional copper wires, which are the most common means of connectivity in Australia, with fibre-optic cables increases the connection’s resistance to harsh Australian environment and severe weather conditions, such as intense heat or rain, allowing everyone to enjoy the connection.

Australians will be connected to the NBN by mixed delivery modes: FTTN (fibre-to-the-node) 44% of the premises, FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) 26% of the premises, HFC (Hybrid-Fibre-Coaxial) 30% of establishments, and satellite and fixed wireless connection for the remaining areas. Depending on the location of the premises the most suitable option will be implemented.

Important Facts

Implementation of the NBN is carried out by the government owned company NBN Co Ltd.

The current technology leaves many parts of the Australia deprived of Internet connection and phone, the NBN plans to connect most, if not every, Australian establishment to the country’s network. Thanks to the NBN, rural and remote parts of Australia stand a chance to use broadband connection at a lower price and at all for that matter.

The NBN is the technology of the future. With significantly faster broadband speeds a number of new possibilities stand open for both personal and commercial users. Fibre technology gives Australians the opportunity to discover and enjoy Internet services of the highest quality. There will be significant changes in reception of services such as ecommerce, data transfers, access to online services, telecommuting, telehealth, and education.

How does the NBN affect Small Business & Home Users

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Benefits for Small Business

There are many ways in which small businesses will benefit from being connected to the NBN. Fast broadband speeds encourage entrepreneurs to expand their businesses by offering their products and services online. Moreover, better connection will make it easier for Australian based businesses to approach overseas markets. Fast download and upload speeds will lower international communication’s costs, and increase efficiency in data exchange between business partners.

For example, customers can browse your business’s webpage faster, which in turn enables you to implement more attractive and advanced website designs. Many marketing strategies suggest sharing videos on the company’s website. This technique allows businesses’ owners to successfully reach their desired target audiences. With slow broadband this option is impossible.

Online shopping becomes more and more popular around Australia, thus fast broadband is an essential part in developing interactive ecommerce services. Advanced ecommerce platforms with engaging interfaces allow customers for an ultimate online shopping experience, a quality that draws income.

Working from Home

Many Australians claim that if it wasn’t for their poor Internet connection they would be happy to work from home. Their current experience with Internet connection is far from being pleasant and encouraging. With poor quality video calls and long loading time of many services, people who work from home, or those who would like to start doing so, have very limited options. However, with the NBN the negative experience is likely to change for the better.

Fast broadband allows many Australians to seek new career paths, for there are numerous professions which can be performed remotely from one’s computer at home.

Working from home seems to be particularly interesting to Australians. First of all, it’s a time saving option for those who have to commute to their workplace each day, plus the costs associated with commuting would drop. There are also benefits connected with flexible working hours which mean parents could spend more time with their children. The implementation of the NBN opens the door for many people of all ages.

Benefits for Home Users

With its fast download and upload speeds, the NBN is a great opportunity to improve your home’s electronic infrastructure.
With today’s relatively low speeds reining in Australia, having a high resolution, smooth video conference is almost impossible. The NBN’s increased broadband speed will allow Internet users to conduct video conferences with a guaranteed quality of that service. This is especially important for Australians whose relatives are scattered over the country or around the world.

Fibre-optic technology is also an incredible improvement in the virtual entertainment field. High quality movies, TV shows and sport events can be streamed online in real time, allowing you to fully enjoy the viewing experience. Increased broadband speeds are also good news for gamers who know all too well how important the speed and reliability of the Internet connection is.

Remote learning will finally become much more pleasant and efficient way of gaining knowledge with NBN’s fast broadband speeds. Australian students will have the ability to attend virtual classes with teachers and students from all over the world.

Fast broadband is necessary for health services such as telehealth or eHealth. Australians living in remote and rural areas of the country will find this feature very useful. Real-time consultations with specialists who work hundred kilometres away from their patients is surely an invaluable convenience.

Differences between the NBN data speeds and the ADSL2+

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Implementation of fibre-optic technology allows for much greater broadband speeds even in the cheapest NBN plans. Wherever the FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) will be installed the download and upload speeds can equal as much as 100mb/s and 40mb/s respectively. However, the areas where FTTN (fibre-to-the-node) is a preferred mode of delivery might exhibit slower results, for the distance from the node to your house or business establishment will still be covered by the copper wire. Nonetheless, if the copper wires are vectored (turbocharged), which is often the case, the users are still going to be able to experience the high speeds of fibre.

In comparison, the average broadband speed for an Australian inhabitant in 2014 was 6.0mb/s (Akamai State of the Internet Report) with many parts of Australia not connected to the Internet at all.

ADSL2+ allows for maximum download speeds of 24mb/s, however, the real speeds achieved by users vary between 10 and 20mb/s with upload speeds around 1-5mb/s.

There should be no doubt that NBN technology will mean faster broadband speeds for all, whether residential usage or in businesses. With most of the RSPs (Retail Service Providers) offering four different broadband plans, everyone’s Internet experience can only get better.

How do Australian broadband speeds compare to other countries?

Unfortunately, Australia ranked 42th in the 2014th Akamai Technologies State of the Internet Report, with the average download speed of 6.0mb/s. However, things are bound to change significantly along with the NBN’s plan rollout.

The fibre-optic technology has been operational in many countries worldwide, thus increasing their average broadband speeds. South Korea has been ruling the ranking since 2013, arriving at a mind-blowing average speed of 23.6mb/s in 2014. South Korea’s speed is almost 50% faster than the second country in the ranking, Japan, which ranked 14.6mb/s.

Australia ranked lower than majority of English speaking countries such as Canada (9.7mb/s), Unites States (10.5mb/s), and United Kingdom (9.9mb/s). Canada and United Kingdom are in favour of the FTTP mode of delivery, United States’ are connected by the FTTN and wireless components - the same technology which is being implemented in Australia.

Estimated total time of delivery of the NBN

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It is expected that the NBN will be fully completed by 2020. Here is an official rollout map where you can check whether your area has been connected to the NBN and if you can purchase your preferred services from the list of Retail Service Providers (i.e. phone, broadband, entertainment).

Why is it taking so long?

Before the NBN plan began to rollout there weren’t enough of skilled workers to perform the implementation of the new technology. Due to complexity of infrastructure as much as 100 million AUD were spent on skill development of contractors responsible not only for the rollout itself, but also for maintaining and managing the FTTN network.

The initial plan for NBN was to provide NTTP for 93% of Australians, and fixed wireless and satellite connection for the remaining 7%. However, the original NBN proposal, introduced by Labor, turned out to be too expensive to carry out.With Coalition taking over the NBN implementation plan, the NTTP mode of delivery was dropped in favour of NTTN technology for the majority of Australian premises.

A new NBN plan required more analysis and reports to be done before executing it. Adopting the current MTM (multi-technology mix) approach is believed to be the cause of further delays, for the complicated structure of such a network takes time to deliver and maintain.

Delays in NBN rollout were also caused by prolonged negotiations with NBN Co boss, Bill Morrow, and Telstra. Telstra’s existing network of copper wires was initially to be rented, however, with the change of NBN plan, NBN Co had aimed to own the copper network entirely. The NBN obtained Telstra’s copper network in late August 2014.

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