The NBN Cometh


In the course of my work I have come across those who embrace the NBN and quite a few holding off because of the negative opinions they hear about it anecdotally and in the media. Whatever the NBN is, it’s likely better than what you had up to now – at least in this wet and windy corner of the world. Be warned though, towns in south west Victoria that have had FTTN installed to date will have their old analogue phone and ADSL services permanently removed with disconnections starting September 2018.

In south west Victoria we are blessed with the following NBN technologies (in order of commonality and with links to the NBN pages):

  • FTTN (Fibre to the Node) in town (Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Hamilton, Portland).
  • FW (Fixed Wireless) and satellite out of town.
  • Koroit will get FTTC (Fibre to the Curb) and FTTN.
  • A smattering of FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) in new estates in Warrnambool.

Here I’ll discuss a bit about each technology and what it means for your home and business.

Fibre to the Node

You would have seen in Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland a flurry of activity in 2017 with technicians camped out at pillars and pits for days and installing new green cabinets (the Node) on nature strips and verges. This was all for the fibre to the node system where your existing phone line is reused to host the new NBN signal. With FTTN your existing telephone and ADSL service will be replaced with the NBN service on the same telephone wire. The caveat with FTTN is that your maximum speed is limited by the length of the telephone cable between your house or office and the green node. The NBN have designed the network so that everyone will get at least 25Mbit with “up to” speeds to 100Mbit. The shorter the line the better the chances you have of getting the full speed.

Given the age of many homes in the region the phone cabling in the house may affect the speeds you end up getting. Over time professional (or more likely DIY dodgy) phone extensions may have been installed in the abode, rats nibbled at the wiring and corrosion on junctions occurred which will all have a detrimental effect on the NBN speed. The NBN is only responsible for wiring up to the property boundary (as was Telstra) so if you suspect that your home wiring is creating problems for you then call a licensed data cabler to come and clean up the wiring. Ideally you want the most pristine and shortest possible connection between your modem and NBN connection at the boundary. The only thing connected to your phone should be the NBN modem – nothing else whatsoever.

Examples of old junk that may be still attached to the line in your building that need to be removed:

  • Any old defunct phone line extensions.
  • Those brown Telecom ringer amplifiers from the 80’s.
  • ADSL splitter/filters forgotten under the house or in the roof.
  • Phones still attached in the shed.
  • Forgotten alarm panels that used to dial a monitoring system or had back to base signalling.
  • Clunky old analogue PABXs.

Some premises in Port Fairy and Warrnambool won’t be able to get NBN at the moment as the wiring in their street isn’t suitable for some reason. The NBN will come around later in 2018 or 2019 and do work to resolve this problem. These premises will still get ADSL until then.

Home Telephone
It’s not mandatory to keep your old 03-556x-xxxx number if you don’t need or want it any more as was the case with ADSL. Mobile phones are very cost effective now and far more convenient. Most NBN providers will allow you to keep your number and you plug your existing phones into the back of the new NBN modem instead of a wall socket.

Business Telephone
Your business may need 2 or more lines or you may have a PABX with many lines – ISDN or analogue. There are upgrade paths to NBN based telephony solutions and it’s worth exploring the option of keeping and updating your existing system rather than replacing it completely at considerable cost. Some PABX systems might need only simple and cheap SIP analogue line adapters and others an extra card, software upgrade or internal reconfiguration to support NBN based voice services.

If you use a fax or EFTPOS machine that relies on dial-up there is no guarantee that it will work reliably on the modem’s phone port, so investigate alternatives. For faxes you can just do away with them if you don’t need faxes any more or get a fax-to-email service. More up to date EFTPOS machines will work on the 3G/4G network or use your Wifi to communicate the transaction – these are much faster than a dial-up machine to complete the transaction anyway.

Fibre to the Curb

FTTC is well underway and is the future of many NBN developments. Instead of placing green nodes and cabinets around the place as with FTTN, fibre cable is pulled through the streets and a watertight fibre modem is placed in the pits out the front of homes and businesses. The existing copper lines from the premises are connected to these subterranean modems. The benefit of this is that the copper run is kept very short and everyone on it will have access to 100Mbit speeds and eventually faster in the near future. Those already on FTTN will be green with envy.

Fixed Wireless and Satellite

The Fixed Wireless system depends on newly installed NBN towers or augmentation of existing Optus/Telstra/TV towers with NBN base stations. These have pretty good coverage of the region but have their limitations.

  • You must be within 14km of a tower. This is a strict policy based technical reasons (it involves timeslots and the speed of light).
  • Even within range you must get an acceptably strong enough signal to support 25Mbit down speeds because….
  • You can’t be in a gulley or lowland or have hill blocking your view of the tower. Loads of trees between you and the tower can also rule you out of contention for a fixed wireless service as they cut the signal right down.

As long as you have any fixed building with a mains supply you can get the NBN antenna installed on that. I had a client site their NBN antenna on the roof of a very tall shearing shed and then set up a local Wifi link back to their house 200m away. Other creative solutions can involve installing a solar powered station on a hill, fitting the NBN system to that and relaying the signal back to the farmhouse over Wifi.

If you can’t even get FW you’ll be eligible for the NBN satellite service instead. This involves getting a satellite dish put on the roof and you will get up to 25Mbit speeds. Only a handful of ISPs provide satellite NBN services though.

Unlike FTTN regions that reuse the existing phone lines, analogue telephone services in Fixed Wireless and satellite areas will be kept operational for the foreseeable future. On FW and satellite systems you can get a telephone number service that operates over the NBN if you so choose – again it’s not mandatory.

Fibre to the Premises

With FttP a fibre optic cable is used to supply the NBN. This system is capable from the get-go of 100Mbit and in some providers will supply speeds to 250MBit! A few new housing estates around Warrnambool have the fibre system and I assume new housing and industrial developments will get fibre rather than FTTC and FTTN.

The boxes the NBN fit to the wall inside your premises have telephone ports built into them. You can use these ports or the phone port on the router your ISP supplies if you elect to keep or have a telephone service on the NBN.

Coax Cable

Telstra and Optus never put in their coaxial cable TV services in down this way so this mode of NBN delivery isn’t relevant to the region.

Business Transition and Planning

If you feel daunted by the move to the NBN, have some questions or just want to discuss the above then get in touch with Up and Running Technology Services. We can also provide advice and organise a plan to manage the transition of your:

  • Phones and PABX’s;
  • Data services for general use;
  • Data services for application use (like TAB systems) and other backend systems;
  • EFTPOS and POS facilities.

Up and Running is an independent operator so will work with your chosen ISP and data cabler to migrate your business systems to the NBN.

We can reconfigure and upgrade your networking, routers and Wifi to make best use of the NBN for your business when the time comes for you to switch over.

Update – March 2019

  • Warrnambool ADSL and analogue phone connections will be deactivated in the period from 8 June 2018 to 9 August 2019 depending on location.
  • Port Fairy ADSL and analogue phone services’ last day was 8 February 2019.
  • Portland ADSL and analogue phone services’ last was be 18 January 2019.
  • Koroit FTTC and FTTN NBN will be available from 31 May 2019

Dates extracted from Telstra Wholesale’s list which may change from time to time.

Categories UARTS, NBN