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February 12, 2020

Understanding The Different nbn™ Technologies

Here is your guide to understanding the different nbn™ technologies available and how they may affect your business.

Understanding The Different nbn™ Technologies

You have probably heard a number of terms and phrases relating to the nbn™, but did you know there are 7 different nbn™ connection types and over 30 service classes?

Many Australian homes and businesses have now been connected to the nbn™, however the type of nbn™ connection will vary from area to area. While you won’t have a choice over which nbn™ technology you have - as NBN Co. makes that decision - it is nonetheless useful to know the various types of connections available if, for example, you relocate.

Why Are There Different Technologies?

NBN Co. uses different connection technologies as it is more cost-effective than it would be to provide Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to every home in the country. The mixed-technology approach we see today allows for a faster rollout that leverages existing network infrastructure.

The nbn™, as it rolls out nationwide, is trying to take advantage of the infrastructure that already exists in an attempt to speed up the process. This means that different locations have different technology and connection types.

Fixed-line nbn™ connection types

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

Fibre to the Premises is generally thought of as being the best nbn™ connection you can get.

With FTTP, a fibre optic cable runs from the closest fibre distribution hub and passes by each premises on a street, with a fibre cable dedicated to each house.

FTTP offers the fastest possible connection, the lowest latency (ping, or 'lag') and the highest potential for download and upload transfer speeds. It also offers the most headroom and room for future expansion.

FTTP connections require an nbn™ access network device to be installed inside your home. This device requires power to operate and can only be installed by an approved nbn™ installer or phone and Internet provider.

Fibre to the Premises internal setup

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)

A Fibre to the Curb connection is used in circumstances where fibre is extended close to your premises, connecting to a small Distribution Point Unit (DPU), generally located inside a pit on the street. From here, the existing copper network is connected to the fibre to form the final nbn™ connection.

To power your FTTC service with electricity and provide your connection to the nbn™ broadband access network, an FTTC nbn™ connection box will be required inside your home or business.

Fibre to the Curb Installation

Fibre to the Node (FTTN)

An FTTN connection is utilised where the existing copper phone and Internet network from a nearby fibre node is used to make the final part of the connection to the nbn™ access network.

The fibre node is likely to take the form of a street cabinet. Each street cabinet will allow the nbn™ access network signal to travel over a fibre optic line from the exchange, to the cabinet, and connect with the existing copper network to reach your premises.

FTTN's use of older, existing copper cable means that latency is often higher than FTTP, and the maximum potential for download and upload speeds is lower. There is no nbn™ equipment required inside your house.

FTTN allows little headroom for future expansion using those existing copper cables, but does allow for those cables to be replaced with fibre in the future.

An nbn™ node cabinet in an Australian suburban street

Fibre to the Building (FTTB)

If you're living in an apartment or your business is located in a shopping centre connected to the nbn™, a Fibre to the Building (or Basement) setup will be your default connection to the nbn™. It's the most efficient way to use existing building infrastructure to connect to the nbn™ quickly and easily.

With an FTTB installation, the nbn™ is delivered to your apartment block's telecommunications infrastructure room via fibre optic cable. From there it's distributed to your individual apartment using whatever cable technology is already in place.

In older apartments this may mean a copper cable giving you speeds roughly equivalent to a FTTN installation, but newer installations may use Ethernet network cable and allow for speeds significantly closer to FTTP.

Because most apartments have reasonably modern copper versus what's in the outside pits in suburban streets, we'd rank FTTB in between FTTP and FTTN in terms of both latency, speed, and future upgrade potential. Apartments can apply to switch from FTTB to FTTP.

There is no internal nbn™ equipment required.

Many apartment buildings in Australia have FTTB set up

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC)

HFC is the cable network you might have connected to in the past to get Foxtel subscription TV.

HFC has one of the highest contention ratios on a relatively slow technology, which means that while your peak download speeds may be acceptably fast, they'll be slow in busy periods.

An nbn™ Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connection is used in circumstances where the existing ‘pay TV’ or cable network can be used to make the final part of the nbn™ access network connection. In this circumstance an HFC line will be run from the nearest available fibre node to your premises.

HFC connections require an nbn™ access network device to be installed at the point where the line enters your home. This device requires power to operate, and can be installed by an approved nbn™ installer or service provider.

An nbn™ HFC modem

Fixed Wireless and Satellite

Fixed Wireless

Fixed Wireless is a technology that connects rural and regional areas to the nbn™. It services areas that might have otherwise only had access to satellite wireless, but uses ground-based base stations to communicate with premises wirelessly.

This connection is typically used in circumstances where the distance between premises can be many kilometres. Data travels from a transmission tower located as far as 14 kilometres, to an nbn™ outdoor antenna that has been fitted to the premises by an approved nbn™ installer.

Fixed Wireless connections also require an nbn™ connection box to be installed at the point where the cable from the nbn™ outdoor antenna enters your premises.

This device requires power to operate, and can only be installed by an approved nbn™ installer or phone and Internet provider.

An nbn™ Fixed Wireless tower in rural Australia

Satellite (Sky Muster)

The Sky Muster™ satellite service delivers the nbn™ broadband access network to homes and businesses in regional and remote Australia, via two state-of-the-art satellites.

As well as the roof satellite dish installed on the home or business, Sky Muster™ satellite connections also require an nbn™ supplied modem to be installed at the point where the cable from the satellite dish enters the premises.

Download and upload speeds are reasonable once they get going, though, and for areas covered by nbn™ satellite that previously had no Internet or were stuck with a flaky long-distance mobile connectivity, it's a massive improvement.

This device requires power to operate, and can only be installed by an approved nbn™ installer or provider.

Satellite Dishes at an nbn™ ground station

Service Classes

Every address in the country is mapped by nbn™ and will be delivered to each address in a certain way depending on the available technology at the premises. nbn™ keeps track of the stage of their nbn™ build and the readiness of a particular address by using service classes.

Every address has a service class and the service class may change as the build of the new network progresses.

Here is the current list of nbn™ service classes and their meanings.

Service Class - Service Class Definition


Service Class 0 - The site is planned to be serviced by fibre

Service Class 1 - The site is serviceable by fibre, with no PCD (Premises Connection Device) or NTD (Network Termination Device) in place

Service Class 2 - The site is serviceable by fibre, PCD is installed, no NTD in place

Service Class 3 - The site is serviceable by fibre, PCD and NTD are installed

Service Class 4 - The site is planned to be serviceable by fixed wireless nbn™

Service Class 5 - The site is serviceable by fixed wireless nbn™, no antenna or NTD in place

Service Class 6 - The site is serviceable by fixed wireless nbn™, antenna and NTD are installed

Service Class 7 - The site is planned to be serviceable by satellite

Service Class 8 - The site is serviced by satellite (dish/NTD not installed)

Service Class 9 - The site is services by satellite (dish/HTD already installed)

Service Class 10 - Site is planned to be serviceable by copper (FTTN or FTTB)

Service Class 11 - Site is serviceable by copper, copper lead-in required

Service Class 12 - Site is serviceable by copper, jumpering is required

Service Class 13 - Site is serviceable by copper, all infrastructure is in place.

Service Class 20 - Site will be serviced by cable (HFC).

Service Class 21 - The property is within the HFC footprint, no drop, wall plate or NTD

Service Class 22 - The property is within the HFC footprint, drop in place, no wall plate or NTD

Service Class 23 - The property is within the HFC footprint, drop and wall plate in place, no NTD

Service Class 24 - The property is within the HFC footprint, drop, wall plate and NTD in place.

Service Class 30 - The property will be serviced by FTTC technology.

Service Class 31 - The property is within the FTTC footprint, copper lead in is required.

Service Class 32 - The property is within the FTTC footprint. Copper lead in is present but not connected to DPU. An NCD is required.

Service Class 33 - The property is within the FTTC footprint. Property is connected to DPU but an NCD is required.

Service Class 34 - The property is within the FTTC footprint. It has previously been transferred to nbn™ and can transfer to a new provider without an installation appointment.

Start the migration to nbn™ today by giving us a call on 1300 790 111 or email support@ecn.net.au.