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The Federal Government has announced a $50 million NBN test programme aimed at finding out how the NBN will work for Australians in 2019.
It has also promised to launch a new national broadband test programme for those in remote rural areas, which will be a big step in the right direction.
The test is part of a broader effort to understand how the National Broadband Network (NBN) works, and whether there are any lessons learned from past experiences.
The NBN is being designed to deliver broadband speeds of up to 2.5 times the speed of a typical home internet connection, which means the rollout is expected to be complete in 2019-20.
For those who don’t live in remote areas, the NBN is expected not to reach a place where NBN is yet available, but it could be years before that happens.
“We will be deploying fibre-to-the-node to rural and remote areas in 2019,” NBN Co chief technology officer Scott Smith said.
NBN Co says it will deliver fibre-through-the‑road (FTTN) broadband to an additional 1.5 million premises by 2020, as part of the rollout. Fibre-to‑the-premises (FTTP) will be rolled out to 1.8 million premises in 2020.
Smith said the company had already delivered a significant number of FTTP premises in the rural areas of the ACT and Western Australia, with around 700,000 FTTP lines deployed.
FTTP is more than three times faster than current ADSL speeds.
More than 500,000 premises are expected to use FTTP by 2020.
The NBN Co CEO also promised that NBN Co will have fibre-coaxial (FCC) service, which provides faster internet speeds to those who do not live in the areas that will be using FTTP service.
In 2018, NBN Co rolled out an ADSL to fibre-optic cable to remote parts of the country, but this has not been widely deployed because of costs and technical issues.
However, the company has said that its new ADSL/FTTP rollout will include fibre-only, meaning that any fibre-based service that does not pass the NBN Co’s technical standards will be excluded from the rollout in some areas.
“We’re going to build the NBN to meet the needs of those in the remote areas where the NBN’s rollout is slow and unstable,” Smith said in the Federal Parliament on Wednesday.
“And we’re going do that through fibre-networking to those remote areas.”
The NBN co chief said NBN Co was now building up a network of approximately 15,000 kilometres in Australia, and this included fibre-cable lines to remote areas.
While the NBN rollout in the ACT was slower than in other states and territories, Smith said the NBN was now delivering broadband speeds that were “well above” what the average home in Canberra or Melbourne can expect.
That is expected by 2019-2020, when NBN Co is expected start building out a network that reaches a maximum of 15,900 premises in Canberra and a maximum peak of 25,900 in Melbourne.
Although NBN Co said that the NBN had not built a copper network to date, the new test programme will enable the company to see if there is any difference in the performance of its existing copper network compared to the fibre-fibre network it has built.NBN Corp has been looking at the potential for a copper to fibre network for many years.
Earlier this year, NBN Corp announced it would build a network around the Melbourne CBD to connect to the NBN, which was due to be completed by 2020 but was delayed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to NBN Co, the rollout will deliver a peak fibre speed of up a whopping 1,400Mbps.
At the moment, NBN Corporation’s copper network reaches speeds of around 4Mbps.
However, in September, NBN co revealed that the company was still working on building a fibre network around its Melbourne CBD.
As part of this work, NBN had been working on an upgrade to its copper network, which would allow it to deliver speeds of 1,200Mbps to the entire metropolitan area of Melbourne.