Perth: How do I connect to the NBN and what speed should I get?

NBN workers installing fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) technology.
NBN workers installing fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) technology.

THE National Broadband Network (NBN) has been a source of great conversation since its announcement.

Despite this, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding one of the largest-scale technology projects in Australian history.

Community News has attempted to answer some of the main questions about the NBN.

Note: This article makes reference to the NBN and NBN Co. The NBN refers to the National Broadband Network itself, while NBN Co refers to the corporation tasked to design, build and operate Australia’s National Broadband Network.

How do I connect?

The most important thing is to check whether you’re ready to switch on at www.nbn.com.au. If you’re not ready just yet, you can register for email updates. In the meantime, people can consider their options and needs before choosing an appropriate speed and plan from an internet provider. If you live in an area that has the green light to connect, it is important to remember the switch is not automatic, and you must contact your provider to place an order.

What are the connection types available?

The two main connections used for residential addresses are fibre to the node (FTTN) and fibre to the curb (FTTC).
FTTN is when fibre optic cable is run to a central ‘node’ in a neighbourhood. The node then connects to the house, using the same copper wiring in your landline phone.
FTTC is when fibre optic cables connect to a house or property via copper wiring and a node. However, after the connection has reached the node, it must go through a property’s curb or driveway (a distribution point), before making the final connection to your house.
NBN local WA head Rachael McIntyre said several factors determined which technology was chosen for each area and premises, including geographical location, existing infrastructure and cost and time to build.
“While NBN Co has been developing and testing FTTC, we’ve been focused on rolling out FTTN which has allowed us to deliver services to end-users in a time and cost effective manner.”

When can you connect?

Ms McIntyre said construction of the network was based on fibre service area modules, not suburbs.“We typically build the network out in stages and work through a region street-by-street, but due to the sheer size and complexity of the build, this is not always possible,” she said.
“For this reason, parts of a suburb may become ready for service, while other parts are still under construction.”
According to Ms McIntyre, the rollout is currently proceeding at pace, with WA scheduled to be complete by 2019 – a year ahead of the rest of the country.

How fast will the NBN be?

The NBN will offer a range of different speeds across different packages and plans on offer from providers. Ms McIntyre recommended people chat to their provider about the speeds they could expect, particularly during peak times.
“NBN Co is committed to providing a minimum wholesale download speed of 25Mbps to all homes and businesses by 2020, regardless of technology, ensuring every Australian has access to fast broadband,” she said.
There are different tiers of connectivity for different users, from casual web surfers to online gamers and heavy downloaders.
Speak to your internet service provider about the best speed plan for you.

Can people keep their existing copper phone line active?

Fixed line services over the NBN access network will gradually replace most landline phone and internet services roughly 18 months after the network has become available in a specific area.
The switch to NBN is not automatic, so those who wish to continue using landline phone and internet services must contact their phone/internet provider.

What do you do if you have problems with the connection?

If you are having issues with your internet connection, Ms McIntyre said it was best to contact your internet provider, rather than NBN Co.
“Your provider knows the ins and outs of your specific plan and connection, and will help fix any issues,” she said.
“If your provider is unable to determine the cause of the issue within your premises or their own network, they will work with NBN Co to resolve it.”