What is Multi-Technology Mix?

Optic fiber cable

When the initial vision for the National Broadband Network (NBN) was introduced, the plan was to run fibre optic cable to almost every Australian home. Since that time, we’ve had a change in government and a new-look NBN design that will use a mix of technologies to get high-speed broadband around the country faster and a reduced cost to the Australian taxpayer.

The original NBN proposal was to run new fibre connections to 93 per cent of Australian homes – Fibre-to-the-Premises, capable of delivering 100 megabit-per-second download speeds. The idea was to create a level playing field and grant all providers equal access to the network. The remaining seven per cent of premises in regional and remote Australia would be reliant on satellite broadband or fixed wireless services.

Why the change in approach?

The Government aims to roll out the NBN cheaper and faster by taking advantage of existing copper and HFC cables. While the exact split is yet to be determined, it looks like around 25 per cent of homes will be hooked up to fibre – primarily in new estates and areas where the first phase of the NBN Fibre-to-the-Premises rollout is already underway.

Meanwhile, around 30 per cent of homes will be hooked up to the NBN via an existing Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial cable network – like the ones owned by iiNet, Telstra and Optus. NBN are looking to take ownership of these networks, so if a cable pay-tv line is running past your house, you may get NBN sooner rather than later.

This new approach would roughly triple the number of homes connected to the HFC cable networks, and while an upgrade of the existing infrastructure is needed, it has the capability to offer up to 100 Mbps to every home.

What type of service will I get?

If there’s no HFC cable in your street and the fibre rollout doesn’t reach your suburb, you’ll probably end up on a Fibre-to-the-Node connection – which still relies on your copper phone line. Whereas current ADSL broadband relies on the copper running all the way back to the telephone exchange, perhaps several kilometres, Fibre-to-the-Node runs fibre to within a few streets of your home. It then uses the existing copper phone lines to cover the last few hundred metres to your front door.

Fibre-to-the-Node offers the potential for considerably faster download speeds than ADSL, using the faster VDSL standard. New technologies such as vectoring could also significantly boost speeds and bring high-speed Internet connections to the majority of Australian households and businesses.

Are any other technologies being considered?

Another technology under consideration will be rolled out to some customers living in apartment blocks. Called Fibre-to-the-Building, it is similar to Fibre-to-the-Node but with a fibre connection running all the way to the basement in the building. The building’s existing copper wiring is used to connect each apartment rather than laying individual fibre connections. This offers the benefit of shorter copper lines than Fibre-to-the-Node, which aren’t exposed to the weather.

iiNet has been one of the first to participate in Fibre-to-the-Building trials in Melbourne, and we look forward to being at the forefront of its rollout across Australia’s apartment buildings.

What speeds can we expect with Fibre to the Node?

Recent trials by iiNet on one of our first Fibre-to-the-Node connections on the NSW Central Coast resulted in average download speeds of around 90 megabits per second, with upload speeds of 40 megabits per second (over an average distance of 429m from the node). Download sync speeds on these trials ranged from 50Mbps to 107Mbps.

Our engineers note that speeds have been pretty good overall, but the distance from the node was not the only variable – the quality of the copper line also had a significant impact.

The Multi-Technology Mix plan is still a work in progress and there are still some unanswered questions. The positive news is that our trials are showing much faster speeds than many anticipated. The new approach may not match the fibre-heavy model for the NBN, but will result in a significant upgrade to Australia’s aging broadband infrastructure.

Please note: This blog has been updated from its original post.



  1. John says:

    If you believe that time is money and that speed and time are relative:

    Less speed = more time = less money.

    More speed = less time = more money.

    More of the liberal party’s inequality for Australians

  2. Robert says:

    The Coalition NBN fraudband is a dogs breakfast and a good percentage of blame should be accepted by the Industry for not speaking up for a top quality NBN FTTH.

    • DRAiNO says:

      I’m pretty sure the industry did speak up, but it was either not loud enough, or the government couldn’t get their fingers out of their ears. You decide which one is more accurate 😉

    • Bob says:

      @Robert, Long before Labour lost office, they were leasing sites and constructing NBN towers. They just
      could not admit that they were doing a back flip. So, who is really responsible for the “dog’s breakfast”.

    • Craig says:

      @Robert, Our country needs to live within our means. We cannot keep spending other peoples taxes and borrow internationally forever, we’ll end up like Greece. Then you gen-Y’ers will know what a real recession feels like. I think this is quite a good, balanced and sensible approach and you should thank your lucky stars that the last child government is no longer in power.

  3. HC says:

    Hey iiNet, I hope you plan on updating your TV adverts to point out the difference between the proper NBN and the gimped version. The ones you have running now will not work at all. If you keep saying “NBN” most people will assume you are talking about fibre despite ending up with rotted out copper. The Slovakia & Romania ones in particular, their premise is based on the NBN as we knew it, not on the coalition clown inspired patchwork mess it will eventually be.

  4. Bird of Rain says:

    How can FTTN return a ROI when the high (100/40) plans can not be offered? These higher cost plans were what was going to help pay for the harder, higher cost parts of the build.
    To make matters worse, now that there is an inferior product being introduced the door has been opened for companies to chery pick the high profit areas with a better product and compete with NBN co.
    To top it off FTTN can not easily be upgraded to FTTP so in the near future when faster speeds are needed we will have to scrap what has been done and start again.
    This change of technology is a criminal waste of time and money that Australia will be burdend with for decades.

    • James says:

      @Bird of Rain,

      Exactly. It makes me nearly blind with frustration that they have this chance to do it right and are screwing it up. As an IT professional I know that using the copper is vastly inferior to FTTP (fiber to the premise) and will just require upgrading sooner rather than later. This is absolute rubbish and should never have been allowed. Yet another example of Australia letting itself down – do it right the first time. 100mbps – allegedly – I’m willing to bet a lot of money most people will not get anywhere near that on the !@#$ copper that Telstra has been shafting us with for so long) – 100mpbs may be enough now, but what about the latency? and what about in 5 years time when there are new applications and higher demand for bandwidth? latency is an incredibly important part of the network connection – it’s what enables truly world class solutions such as remote surgery, etc etc.
      I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed with this decision. I would rather wait an extra 5 years to or pay $1000 myself to get fiber to the premise than this mucked up alternative.

  5. Mario says:

    FTTN is more expensive than FTTH if all factors are considered. Everybody who is interested knows that. Its politicians game, nothing to do with technology and cost. For how long do you want to use FTTN? 10 Years? if so then the cost of FTTN is prohibited. Take the cost of running power to each node for 30 years, cost of batteries, then replacement cost of batteries (no battery will last for 30 years) then the difference in price between FTTH devices and FTTN devices (FTTN much more expensive than FTTH) and add to all that maintenance of the old rusted, attenuated copper network, then you will see that FTTH is cheaper than FTTN. And, FTTH is scalable. As far as the future is concerned, there is no comparison between, the transport of data over Fibre Optic to compare to transport of data over coper wire. The real problem is that these facts are not going to reach wider audience because these facts will never made through to the media and we all know why. Mum and Dad will never know that, they don’t read ZDnet, they watch TV.

    • John says:

      @Mario, Here here Mario. Hadn’t thought of that. But it’s a losing battle because our politicians can only think in 3 year blocks.

  6. ecolaf says:

    Australians are getting what they voted for. The point is why were they so wrong?

    • Beelzebubbles says:

      @ecolaf, Between Rupert’s Limited News, his perverse campaign of misinformation & fear, and the blatant LIES of the Abbottoir, it’s little wonder that the Bogan Hordes were allowed to exercise their stupidity on a national scale.

  7. dan scherr says:

    what about that 7 percent that weren’t gonna get fibre to the home? How will NBN cover the vast remote areas of the country???

  8. Terry says:

    nice attempt to put lipstick on a pig.
    As I live and “older” suburb the existing copper wires are rather old too and as you say will be a significant factor in speeds.
    If and when the NBN gets here will it be a case of pot luck on the final speed I could expect?

    • Anonymous says:

      @Terry, I hope they assess the existing lines prior to implementing this technology, as the copper in my street is extremely poor and has been patched so many times. I hope they can offer a choice, I would pay even $2000, plus I would supply my own equipment in my house.

  9. Anya says:

    So,where does that leave us…..we are an accommodation business in the Margaret RIver Region…we have a
    Slower nbn internet via satellite on ridiculously expensive capped plans ,we would love an alternative ,should eg Telstra be responsible for supplying the antennas needed
    To get the better nbn satellite signal and plans as part of their commitment to the nbn and business???we are in a mobile black spot with random mobile signal.the antenna Telstra tell us will make their new wifi work out here costs around $1000…….how unfair is that while we watch all these new local estates going up with new cables etc….

  10. David says:

    We have had NBN in Brunswick connected for 4 months. Fibre t the home. And I have to say, it is no different to the speeds we were getting on our Optus cable. Still get congestion when trying to hook up to some overseas websites. So, no we are not getting download speeds anywhere near 25MBS, except on the speed test. Yes it is good to download a word document quickly from a Melbourne server. But the benefits being spruced about the NBN to your average internet user (which is the majority) are not the reality. What a waste of money, it should be left to the private industry.

  11. Justin says:

    Did Murdoch just buy a slice of iiNet? That’s how this article feels. iiNet had always stuck up for the users even when evil corporations and governments wouldn’t. Now it’s laying down and accepting this waste of taxpayer money on a band aid solution…

  12. John says:

    I am rather concerned about the hidden true cost of the FTTN model. My copper failed and now I am using the spare pair. I just wonder when it too will fail. Hopefully it lasts until FTTN as they will probably try me on pair gain.
    BTW, I am taking bets for loosing internet during the FTTN rollout when they will connect up my failed primary pair.

  13. Frank says:

    Roll on Harvest Moon

  14. SomeGuy says:

    So while fibre to the node speed seem acceptable for the time being and pretty much what I already achieve on 4G. What thought has been payed for the future, not just the next 3 years but the next 30 years.
    There is going to need to be an upgrade and that upgrade will probably be fibre to the home anyway. Governments should be factoring in the long term solution and I’m sure FTTN then upgrading to FTTH will cost way more in the long run. This isn’t an efficient, cost effective solution for Australia’s future.

  15. Ancestor says:

    What happens if an ISP lays fibre to the basement of an apartment building? Will owners be forced to use that ISP or will they have the ability to choose their present ISP? This must have arisen already with TPG jumping in to cable some apartments.

  16. flashfletch says:

    Talk about fraudband! We are building in a new estate about 5 minutes from the CBD of one of Victoria’s largest regional cities in one of the city’s GROWTH CORRIDORS, and I have just discovered that we won’t even have FTTN!!? We are going to be left with a Fixed Wireless connection, with no plans to even make FTTN/H a possibility in the future. And yet the street our new estate comes off already has FTTH! We will be about 150 metres from there.

    Within an hour or so of Melbourne and it looks like we are going to be part of the 7% of ‘remote locations’ in Australia who can only get wireless or satelite!?? And we will miss out on all the added features of better phone plans, etc!

    THANKS (for nothing) Mr Abbott :-P~~~

  17. Ian says:

    Remember that the $54 billion was over a 10 year period, so spending $5.4 billion a year with a total budget spend of around $500 billion a year is not that huge a cost burden.

    If spending just over 1% of your total spend for the year was such a horrific thing to do, we would not go on holidays, or buy new cars, or replace that ageing TV set, or get that Pay TV, or…..

    We need to get things into perspective. Maybe we need to ask what the other 98.5% of the budget is being spent (wasted?) on!

  18. c.remeysen says:

    There are some towers to be build in the vicinity , but If something has to be connected to copper we are all stuffed.
    copper from Telstra is rotten .
    And tell me, What is it going to cost?????
    And when will it be connected?

  19. Alan Miller says:

    My home is 3.2km from the node and the copper wire owned by Telstra has not been replaced since laid in 1974! Every two years, a technician has to make a new sealed joint as the wires are in alkaline soils and the joints become green. This causes severe noise and cross talk on the wires! Telstra knows this, however, they are not going to replace the copper cables even though they know about the corrosion effect. Who is going to make them replace the wire cables now? Not happy with Telstra at all.

  20. Shane says:

    My home is over 55 years old, the copper leading up to my house is about the same age. So I expect a poor service when the NBN comes on line in the current schedule of delivery for 2018. Wow – only 4 years to wait. By then we will have AI and something better than NBN will be available. Lucky our PM prioritises war over community. It would be faster and cheaper for me to run my own fibre than to wait for the crappy NBN we will get in 4 years.

  21. Eric says:

    I live in a regional town. We have been consulted. That means we have been told we will get 6 NBN towers to service our town in an area where both digital tv and mobile phone coverage are patchy at best due to topography and weather. I am expecting an up grade to an intermittent wireless service from my consistent hard wired broadband

    • Jacinta says:

      @Eric, Yes, Eric, our “consultation” was the same. Our town in rural Victoria, just outside a major regional centre, is in the same boat – we will have one (and one only) tower “within 12 months” and we’ll only have access if we install an outdoor antenna and a NBN box inside! WT???? Mobile phone coverage is beyond patchy. I’m tipping even this pathetic “promise” is to help the State Liberal Party survive the upcoming election.

  22. Wayne says:

    What is planned for those living in townhouse estates?

    As for fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-building what a crock of shit! Now thats what I call NOT looking toward the future…WTF!

    Politicians will never change, always looking for ways to cost cut at the benefit of every Australian.

  23. Jodie Sutcliffe says:

    I am waiting to find out when NBN is going to start being built in Albany, Western Australia and what area’s in Albany that wont be getting it. From what I have read in the local newspaper, area’s in Denmark, Western Australia will be getting it as building has commenced but only in area’s where network/signal is bad. What about area’s in Albany that can’t get adsl and mobile broadband is not that good either.

  24. Ray says:

    In a rural area, no mobile , on sat for TV and internet (very slow and costly) , copper phone lines very old , I don’t get anything from the gov but higher taxes, petrol , registration costs, and ignored until it comes to an election and then it’s promises promises. But nothing changes.
    Same BS

  25. yobrevar says:

    We may be the populous (in this blog at least), but we have no power. The people who have the power already have Fibre to their homes. Those are Abbotts fat cat cronies. They have no need to complain, so nothing will change.

    I am concerned for our future though. As previously stated, Telesurgery will be a problem (Only if you plan on doing your next door neighbours hip replacement surgery from your back shed.)

    Another more pressing concern is the future of Hidef TV. Australia already has lax perfromance when it comes to 720p streaming. So what chance do we ever have of being able to watch sport or TV shows in 4k.

    My other concern is the appearance that iiNet has given up the good fight. Why are they rolling over now?

  26. joffa says:

    i just read all these comments and conclude that albeit, some are informed, none are accurate? why? because everyone is not seeing the big picture; ‘COST, NOW, CAD, TEMP. FIXIT, SHUT THE GENERAL POPULAS UP, CUT COSTS, MORE HOLIDAYS FOR US’ etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. and when you use the term/s eg. ‘telstra’ please use term correctly, it is ‘THE CORPORATION’ or ‘PRIVATISED PARTNER OF CORPORATION’ thereof. There is nothing else, there is also NOTHING ANY OF US can do about the ‘CORPORATION’ and it’s mismanagement of public revenues. Conclusion: put up, shutup, & don’t bother voting itdoesn’t and never has counted anyway. Not at least for the last 60 years odd. I strongly recomend everyone walking into their childs bedroom and striking up a political conversation with either ‘barbie’ or ‘gi joe’ doll. you will get more satisfaction??????

  27. joffa says:

    just to cap off what i just wrote: talking cost, of course no matter which way it is done (fttn, ftth, sat., wifi. hybrid, etc) it’s all the same because ‘THE CORPORATION’ has never done anything 100% properly, (in case you haven’t noticed) it is a temporary ‘patch it up mr. fixit for now’ entity. This has always been the case, look around you, what do you see. Thing is now, when they stuff up, we pay for it. In fact they continue to own but demand we pay for it (no choices), smartmeter one late example. This WOFTAM is just another example of stupidity run rampant. Once again whinge, complain all you like, that’s why they ‘pritatised’ first, (got NBN Co. to roll it out) it’s water off ducks back. They still get their million dollar year payment/pensions to sit around and talk like barrel of monkeys (did you say you voted them in?????) fighting over used banana peels (house of representatives) please people spare me (& yourselves) any more undue unnecessary misery on this topic and just commit yourself to insane asylum or join the corporation (become shareholder) either way, ‘live in peace and harmony’….. or just end it

  28. Hugh Middleborough says:

    What about bottleneck ? I mean if copper could take fibre speeds then they wouldn’t have bothered with fibre in the first place so unless you get FTTP your only going to end up with ADSL2 speeds no matter what, so why bother changing at all. Oh I know you can get faster speeds out of the copper if your less than 500 metres from the node and provided there are no joints in the copper between you and the node because if there is guess what, yep another bottleneck !

  29. Les says:

    you state – Fibre-to-the-Node runs fibre to within a few streets of your home. It then uses the existing copper phone lines to cover the last few hundred metres to your front door.

    Fibre-to-the-Node offers the potential for considerably faster download speeds than ADSL, using the faster VDSL standard.

    hahaha.. joke right?
    I live within 12kms of the middle of Melbourne, have copper phone lines to my house laid BEFORE World War II. Every time it rains or a spider gets in the junction box down the street, my internet and normal phone just goes slower and slower….

    The original Labour designed NBN would fix this (so I was happy for my taxes to be used to support bringing our communications into the 21st century) Now..??? Billions for no improvement in service and a total waste of money (as the copper will not be fixed)

  30. Tony Butterfield says:

    I have had the Hybrid Fibre -Coaxial cable option for years through TransACT (taken over by iiNet)and any faster connection would not improve anything – it is already great

  31. troy says:

    I have Optus cable with 100 meg download (sounds great, right), except they cap the upload at an absurd 1.6 meg or thereabouts (two orders of magnitude less). This makes it no better for many work related tasks, sharing documents, or even just family things like video call or upload photos.

    Assuming the cable becomes part of the NBN, would iiNet lift this absurd upload cap to something more reasonable? (I really want to come back! My iiNet ADSL experience was frankly better than Optus cable.)

    • Amy Pearce says:

      Hi Troy,

      Residential ADSL2+ plans are capped at 1Mb upload.
      Business DSL have an added AnnexM upload booster, boosting speeds to max line capabilities.

      NBN speeds are negotiable with turbo packs – view them here

      I hope this answers your questions :)

      – Amy

  32. Graeme Kirkham says:

    Whether we agree with the old or new NBN we don’t have a choice for a while anyhow.
    I will probably get the third option of Fibre-to-node. Should the copper not be suitable from node-to-house can anybody advise how much getting fibre replacement will cost?

  33. George says:

    Interesting – So now Telstra’s Velocity network is the best wish they kept rolling that one out.. and we all knew his was going to happen CEO of NBN co left his job before the job was even completed and still got multi million $ payout.. And new flash for all u that have fibre to the house ever wonder y u have a power box taking your power running back to the street… give u all something to think about…

  34. Vesper Halley says:

    Snort, 80 year old copper wire.. whats the bloody point … gonna… bloody telstra have to send out someone to dry it with a blow torch every time it rains, USELESS