NBN connection types: Which is cheapest in my area?

Fibre optic broadband cables

With the NBN rollout completed and most Aussie homes now on the service, providers are offering a range of plans encompassing different speed tiers. Just which speed tiers you’re eligible for is dependent on your NBN connection type, something that you may not know unless you’ve specifically gone looking.

Your NBN connection type is dependent on the type and location of the technology used to connect your home to the NBN network. You can check your address on the NBN Co. website to see what connection type you currently have, as well as any scheduled works upcoming for your area.

NBN Co. are working on equipping more homes with FTTP connections, which is their best technology offering access to the highest speed tiers available.

If your home isn’t on the list of upcoming upgrades for this list or you’re interested in requesting any of the other types of NBN tech you can submit an application with their technology choice program, but it will cost a fee to get any work done. Not all homes will be eligible for all types of technology, either.

Fixed line NBN connections

The NBN network is primarily comprised of connections that utilise a physical line running to the premises. There are 5 types of connections which make use of the fixed line technology:

  • Fibre to the premises (FTTP)
  • Fibre to the building (FTTB)
  • Hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC)
  • Fibre to the curb (FTTC)
  • Fibre to the node (FTTN)

Each connection type is named after the exact technology and its location in reaching the premises.

FTTP

An FTTP connection offers the largest range of speed tier availability, but requires a fibre optic line run from the nearest fibre node directly to your premises and an NBN access network device installed inside your home.

An FTTP connection will most likely be eligible for any speed tier you wish to purchase from an internet service provider, all the way up to NBN 1000.

FTTB

FTTB connections are most common in apartment blocks or similar properties, in which a fibre optic cable is run to the building’s communication room. Existing technology in the building is then used to connect to the NBN network, meaning your router will be able to plug directly into the phone wall socket.

The fastest speed tier available to this connection type is NBN 100.

HFC

An 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 network connection. In this circumstance an HFC line will be run from the nearest available fibre node to your premises. An NBN network device will need to be installed at the point where the line enters your home.

All HFC connections can access NBN 100 plans as standard, while 97% can access the NBN 250 tier and 58% can access NBN 1000. Your maximum speed on this connection type will depend on the age of the technology used, as NBN Co. has been working on upgrading their HFC tech to access higher speeds.

FTTC

FTTC connections feature fibre extended close to the premises, connecting to a small Distribution Point Unit (DPU) usually located in a pit on the street. The existing copper network is then connected to the fibre to complete the installation. These connections will also need an NBN connection box inside your home to power your service.

FTTC connections can access maximum speed tiers of the NBN 100 tiers, although it has been noted that issues with existing copper networks means maximum speeds that high can be hard to achieve.

FTTN

An FTTN connection is utilised when the existing copper phone and internet line from a nearby fibre line is used to make the final part of the connection. The fibre line is likely to take the form of a street cabinet, which will connect to your home using the existing copper network.

The maximum speeds on this connection type are in the NBN 100 tier, but your home will need to be less than 400 metres from the street cabinet to achieve these speeds. The existing copper network can also cause issues achieving these maximum speeds, and as such some providers won’t offer NBN 100 plans to those with an FTTN connection

Wireless and Satellite NBN

Used primarily in regional and remote areas in which premises are often set far apart, NBN Co. makes use of two connection types to deliver internet where fixed lines can be hard to install.

Fixed Wireless

Fixed Wireless connections make use of data transmitted over radio signals to an NBN antenna installed to the premises. An NBN connection box is also required at the point where the cable from the antenna enters your home.

This connection type can see speeds reach around 75mbps, which sits between the NBN 50 and NBN 100 speed tiers, however the nature of wireless technology and potential for interference can also see speeds drop to around 6mbps.

This connection type is great for homes that aren’t able to receive a fixed line connection, but speeds can be unstable and variable.

Sky Muster satellite

A Sky Muster satellite connection delivers the NBN network via a rooftop satellite installed on the premises and an NBN supplied modem that needs to be installed by an NBN technician at the point where the cable from the dish enters your home.

Two satellites are able to provide signal for this connection type across mainland Australia, Tasmania and remote islands such as Norfolk island and Lord Howe islands.

Satellite NBN plans have a maximum speed in the NBN 25 tier, and will usually have a data cap imposed by your internet service provider. Speeds again can vary with this connection type, but it is another option to consider for remote or rural Aussies.

Your cheapest option is sticking with what you’ve got

NBN Co. has completed its rollout of the network, meaning most Australian homes are eligible for NBN plans already. Your cheapest option would be to stick with whatever kind of technology NBN Co. has your premises set up for.

If you’re unhappy with your service and you want to change, that’s something you can consider, but know that there will be costs associated with any sort of work that needs to be completed. If you can hold off, you might find your premises being upgraded as a part of NBN Co.’s current upgrade scheme that is seeing more homes eligible for the FTTP connection type, and therefore able to access the fastest plans available.

Keep in mind that NBN Co. is just in charge of the infrastructure, not what plan you sign up to. You’ll need to find the right plan for your household with an internet service provider, and that will be what determines what price you’re paying each month, along with what download speed and data caps you’ll see.

Looking for NBN plans? Compare broadband providers over at our broadband hub to find plans in your area. You can also use our handy comparison tool below to find some popular plans.