Fibre is like a freeway for moving the internet quickly and reliably – and a complete fibre network puts almost everyone in the same lane. By contrast, phone lines are like a patchy road built last century.
Fibre is faster because internet data is sent as pulses of light emitted from a laser along fibre cables, whereas copper wires transmit electrical currents that slow with distance and can suffer interference.
Optical fibres can be bundled together as cable, and carry a signal as light further and with less disruption than copper wire. Current technology means that speeds of 1TB per second is achievable and this could go higher with further developments.
What will it cost?
The cost of plans on the NBN will be about the same as ADSL plans today, and most consumers won’t have to pay for extra phone line rental. Wholesale NBN prices are set by NBN Co and are fixed for five years. The retail prices will be determined by internet providers and include data limits.
Data allowances will be more generous and currently range from 40GB up to 1 terabytes (TB) per month to recognise that people will use more data on the faster, more reliable fibre network.
Is Australia going it alone?
Around the world, Australia is one of a number of countries building a fibre network to the door.
- Canada and NZ are also building FTTP.
- In Asia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore are building FTTP networks.
- In Europe, the UK has a FTTN network and is working towards FTTP. France and Germany are building an FTTP network, along with the Scandinavian countries.
- The Middle East, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are going FTTP.
- In the US, Google has built a fibre network, but there is no national FTTP network underway. However, it is estimated their copper network will be retired by 2018.