Here's What You Need To Know About FTTdp

The five-letter acronym on every telco nerd's mind at the moment — FTTdp — stands for fibre to the distribution point. Sitting somewhere in between fibre to the node (FTTN) and fibre to the premises (FTTP or FTTH) in speed, cost and complexity, it's a new potential technology that may feature heavily in the future of the NBN. It promises to be cheaper than FTTP, faster than FTTN and equally quick to roll out.

Fibre image via Shutterstock

To understand fibre to the distribution point, you have to work out where it places in the hierarchy of good-better-best fibre distribution network technologies — if price is of no concern, and if your interest is only in determining which technology delivers the highest connection speeds with current hardware.

At the top is fibre to the premises, using a gigabit passive optical network that runs from each house in a street (with each street its own local area network), to the drop fibre to the fibre access node to the point of interconnect — fibre all the way along the line from start to finish.

At the bottom is fibre to the node, which replaces the majority of copper in the traditional exchange-to-premises run with fibre and installs a powered node (for up to 384 users), but that uses copper for the "last mile" (actually around 400m at most) between the node and each house on a street.

Fibre to the distribution point brings the fibre almost to users' doorsteps, with the distribution point in the name referring to the individual junction box in the telecommunications pit in the street outside each property. With fibre running to within metres of the property, and therefore metres of the first connection point within a premises, FTTdp brings fibre much closer than FTTN, and almost as close as FTTP. This means near-gigabit network speeds can be achieved over the very short run of copper between premises and pit, and an upgrade to full fibre to the premises is easily possible in the future.

Crucially, FTTdp has been found to be relatively affordable — significantly more so than fibre to the premises, the full-fat option that requires fibre cable installation within individual properties. With the average FTTP installation costing $4400 per premise and FTTN costing $2300, fibre to the distribution point is only a few hundred dollars more expensive than the cheapest FTTN build-out per property.

"Skinny fibre" is a big part of the FTTdp plan. Around a third of the diameter of the green optical fibre used for the majority of the NBN's fibre rollout, and with a third of the optical fibres inside, skinny fibre is still capable of gigabit-plus speeds but fits through telecommunications network ducts that can be blocked by larger cables — which require expensive and time-consuming remediation work.

FTTdp trial rollouts so far have used skinny fibre to reduce the time and complexity of the construction. Although not as future-proof as the larger-gauge fibre, skinny fibre is still optical in nature and can support speed increases with a relatively straightforward upgrade process; in any case, it's massively superior to copper in current and potential bandwidth, and can be upgraded to FTTP in the future.

Currently running in a small, three-month trial in 30 premises in two locations in Sydney and Melbourne, the government-run company building the National Broadband Network says that its plan is to use the FTTdp technology to replace some — but not all — FTTN rollouts, as well as some fixed wireless locations.

The Labor opposition is widely expected to bring a largely-FTTdp solution as its NBN plan to the next Federal Government election, while the Liberal government believes its multi-technology mix its on the right track — although it does plan to introduce FTTdp in its rollout from the end of next year.

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo


    I look forward to this being at my house in 2030.

    I just got Fixed wireless at my house yesterday on a 50/25 plan.

    Im getting around 1/3. Absolutely ridiculous.

    • This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available.

      This comment is not available.

        I certainly did. Telcos said no ADSL2+ ports were free aka 'we want people on the NBN now.'

        Honestly, I'm furious about it.

        • This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available.

          This comment is not available.

            Thanks mate. I'm kicking and screaming don't worry about that!

            Im on fixed wireless atm and it sucks. 50/25 plan and getting about a 10th of it. I'm keeping daily random speed tests logged in an email which I will be forwarding to a lot of people.

            I got a pitiful response from one of the Minister of Communications minions which was a very poor response not addressing any of my concerns and my local member is going in to bat for me as well.

            I am on Fixed Wireless and it is horrible. Inconsistent. At LEAST I can work again. I will rally my neighbours and petition to get wired into the neighbourhood.

            I'm not done yelling yet. :)

    The amount of different installation processes for NBN is just ludicrous.
    This is just gonna make thing harder down the road as much as the copper re-vitalization effort Turnbull believed to be 'Cost effective' . SMH

    Well by the time the NBN decides to rollout in my area (im thinking 2030 or beyond) they might have actually sorted their stuff out and give me decent speeds.

    Technically I already have FTTN though since Telstra upgraded my area 5-10 years ago....and I pay less than NBN contracts too.

    The first thing you probably need to know about FTTP/FTTDP is that you probably aren't going to get it, at least, not from the NBN.

    The MTM's plan is to cover 93% of Australia with the worst possible options (not even the cheapest.. just whatever happens to be lying around already).

    What I need to know about FTTdp is: when am I getting it? Damn Liberals, spending 50 billion on outdated submarines, and shortchanging the national network.

    And for less then the cost of all this liberal stuffing around and messing with a mixed technology nonsense, we could have had fiber to every home... Guess we will need to wait a good 30-40 yrs for this current government generation to drop dead before that will ever happen...

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now