Ditching FTTH for NBN would pose big risks

Dylan Bushell-Embling
03 Sep 2013
Daily News

A change of course for Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) could pose major financial risks for the project, and the nation would risk losing its key trading partners in Asia.

Australians will head to the polls this weekend to vote for the next government.

The in-opposition Coalition, currently leading in opinion polls, has revealed plans to use FTTN in place of FTTH for the NBN if it wins power.

Fibre to the Home Australia has argued that abandoning FTTH technology in favor of FTTN could make the project financially unviable and allow competing operators to build networks that undermine the NBN.

These overbuilders would be able to sweep in to offer a superior service, but the trade publication notes that no overbuilders have been able to successfully move in against an incumbent's FTTH network anywhere in the world.

The publication meanwhile estimates that to pay off, an FTTN NBN would need to remain operational until at least 2029. But by this time, network traffic will be at least 250 times higher than it is today by conservative estimates, leaving the network struggling to cope.

Relying on FTTN could also put Australia behind its key Asian trading partners, to the extent it can no longer participate as an equal economic partner.

NBN Co could also soon find itself facing a shortage of skilled maintenance workers trained in copper technology, as workers are already favoring learning how to work with fiber instead of copper.

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