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How to prepare for an FTTP upgrade

Alex Kidman
Feb 20, 2024
Icon Time To Read3 min read

If you’re eligible for a free FTTP upgrade from FTTN or FTTC – or if you’re paying for one yourself – it’s worth knowing what the process will actually involve, and the steps you need to take to make the transition to a fully-fibre-based NBN experience.

The very first step involves choosing an NBN plan. You might think that’s a little odd, but one of the key planks of the FTTP upgrade process from FTTN connections is that you have to undertake to connect to a faster NBN plan, at NBN 100 speeds at a minimum.

For current consumer-facing NBN plans, that means switching up to an NBN 100, NBN 250 or NBN 1000 plan. Here’s a selection of plans from participating telcos for you to pick from at those speed tiers:

NBN 100 Plans

NBN 250 Plans

NBN 1000 Plans

Once you’ve got a plan in mind, check your eligibility for an upgrade. NBN Co is upgrading millions of connections to full fibre, but not every single FTTN connection and location is included in its direct upgrade plans. You can check your precise eligibility by putting your address in at NBN Co’s website. If you’re good to go, you’re good to start the application process.

The next step involves ordering the plan from your qualifying provider of choice, because it’s your ISP that will coordinate with NBN Co to actually get the physical install process underway. As a reminder, you get online with the National Broadband Network (NBN), but NBN Co is the company building and maintaining the physical network. As a consumer, you don’t typically deal with NBN Co; your point of contact is your telco that sells NBN Co services to you.

Tip: If you’re renting your property, it’s vital that you get approval from your landlord prior to undertaking any kind of upgrade order. The NBN FTTP upgrade process does involve a physical install on a property and may involve drilling into walls and the permanent installation of fixtures on a property – and that means you typically need written and clear landlord approval to get this started.

What actually happens when you put in your order for an FTTP upgrade?

First of all, NBN Co may in some cases send out a technician to assess the exterior of your property prior to the actual installation day. Think of this as scoping out the work, because that way they can sort out where cables may need to be arranged, any unusual physical obstacles (trees, rocks, hills, other buildings) that may impact the difficulty of the job or time taken to get it done and so on.

While precise timing varies, because property sizes and challenges can vary, this typically takes between 45 minutes to one and half hours, but you don’t strictly have to be home while this is happening. If the technician notes any particular issues with the installation, this pre-check will allow them to notify your ISP – and in turn you – as it may affect the date they’re able to do the actual installation. If you are home, in some cases for some installs, they may ask to do some preparatory installation work to make it simpler on the actual install day.

You should also be advised of your installation day. It is vital that you (or an authorised person over the age of 18) is present for the entire day, as the installation involves both street work and the installation of cabling and NBN devices in and on your property.

Installations vary, but NBN Co’s estimates put the typical FTTN to FTTP upgrade at around three to four hours. This may involve a quantity of drilling and other noisy work, and in some cases it may be necessary to temporarily cut power to the property.

Street cabling may need to be modified, but the upgrade will also involve installation of two key pieces of equipment on your property. The NBN technician should advise you on the best locations for these. In some cases there may be an element of choice as to positioning, but for some property and wall types it may only be possible to locate devices in a single location. The installation will involve installing an NBN Utility Box (AKA a Premises Connection Device or PCD) to the exterior of your property as well as a NBN Connection box (AKA Network Termination Device, or NTD) to the inside of your property. It’s the NTD that you’ll then connect a router to in order to connect to the actual NBN once the installation is completed.

FTTP NBN Upgrades: Frequently Asked Questions

For qualifying FTTN and FTTC properties switching up to a higher speed tier plan, in most cases the answer to this question is yes. If you have a property with a particularly unusual or challenging layout that would involve a considerable extra level of difficulty for installation, you may be requested to pay part of the installation cost, but you should be advised of this prior to installation day, and given the choice as to whether you want to proceed. The other cost catch here is that you have to upgrade to a NBN 100 or faster tier plan for at least a 12 month span. Switch down to a slower plan before that year is up, and you’ll incur a $200 charge for doing so.

You can in some circumstances, but the costs are considerable. NBN has a service it calls “Technology Choices” that allows you to pay for the full cost of rolling the fibre to your premises as long as you’re in a fixed line NBN location, but only on a single premises basis. Typical costings can run north of $10,000 or much more to do so. If you’re still keen, you can put in a quote application at the NBN Co Technology Choice portal

On the day of installation, you may lose Internet access while NBN Co switches over your technology type, as well as when your ISP actually provisions your service. The smart play here is to have an alternative device with Internet access ready to tide you over for that period – which should hopefully be short, only an hour or two if that – such as a mobile phone in hotspot mode with a cheap SIM-only plan ready to roll.

In most cases no, but it’s worth checking with your NBN ISP to make sure. The upgrade to FTTP removes the need for a copper line connection through to your modem-router, but the vast majority of modem-routers sold in Australia are entirely capable of working with either FTTN or FTTP connections. You may need to change some settings within the router to get it working with your new FTTP connection, but your ISP should be able to advise you as to what those changes would need to be.

Broadly speaking, yes. If your upgrade does not involve switching ISPs, then they may handle this step for you, but otherwise it’s worth checking and making sure you’re not stuck with two broadband bills for the month after your new service is activated.
No, you can’t. There’s no mechanism to get NBN Co back out to run “new” copper lines to a property connected under FTTP, and zero technical reason why you shoud want to. Fibre’s far more robust and reliable than copper ever was, so your FTTP upgrade should be… well… an upgrade in every respect.

What you can do, once your twelve month period after an upgrade is over is switch back down to a sub-100Mbps connection if you found it was excess to your actual usage needs.

However, recent changes to the NBN SAU (basically the agreement on pricing and provisioning between NBN Co and ISPs) is making NBN 100 plans considerably better value and closer in pricing to NBN 50 plans than they’ve ever been before. It’s feasible that you might find plans aren’t that much cheaper, if at all – and why would you spend the same money on a slower plan?

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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