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Malcolm Turnbull has won the NBN lotto — but his neighbours aren’t so lucky

The home of Australia's Prime Minister in Canberra — The Lodge — will be connected to the NBN using fast, new fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) technology.

Key points:

  • The Prime Minister's Canberra home is receiving fast NBN access, though neighbours are not
  • Many areas with older technology in the rollout will not be able to access the fastest speeds
  • NBN Co is facing commercial pressures to return a profit for the taxpayer

Yet neighbours on two sides are stuck with the older fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) rollout.

The technology connecting The Lodge was revealed in Senate Estimates on Monday night, when a department official revealed the NBN would be connected by FTTC between July and September.

NBN Co is selectively replacing FTTN and cable rollout areas with FTTC.

Three in four homes with FTTN will not be able to obtain download speeds offered by the fastest NBN plans.

The Lodge is one of a million premises currently earmarked as receiving FTTC.

FTTC involves installing fibre closer to each premises than FTTN, delivering a faster connection.

A spokesperson for NBN Co said a change in technology may be caused by different reasons including cost, geography, existing infrastructure, resources and relevant planning authorities or regulations.

According to analysis of the rollout map on the NBN Co website, the FTTC area encompassing The Lodge is sandwiched by two areas of FTTN.

Those across Adelaide Avenue and in the houses to the south-east are stuck on the inferior, older technology.

FTTC under consideration

The NBN is currently assessing the rollout design in regions covering millions of homes.

An upgrade to FTTC is being assessed on a case-by-case basis, for example in areas vulnerable to flooding or where it is too expensive to run power to a FTTN "cabinet".

At Senate Estimates in November, NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow described a situation where FTTN has been upgraded to FTTC in Lismore.

"If we look at the cost of FTTN, remember the more remote you go out in the dense areas the cost of the node going in is almost the same but you share that cost amongst fewer homes, so your cost per premise typically goes up," he said.

"I suspect in this case that the cost of FTTC was more than the cost of FTTN in Lismore but because of a variety of other factors we decided it was still the most appropriate technology."

NBN Co advises people interested in upgrading the technology in their area to use the Technology Choice program, which allows individuals or groups to make an application to upgrade the technology used in the rollout for their area, for a cost.

However Labor's spokesman for regional communications Stephen Jones accused NBN Co of a "go-slow" approach and failing to help interested councils with their applications.

"There is also concern around the figures NBN is using to quote the cost of an upgrade," he said.

He called on the Government to agree on an upgrade program and roll out FTTC in regional communities.

The Government intends for the NBN to return an investment for the taxpayer when it is sold following the completion of the roll-out sometime after 2020.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed frustration that the NBN would not deliver the kind of return on investment taxpayers would expect from other projects.

Original Article

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