The NBN will use three different technologies to bring high speed broadband to Australians across the country.

93 per cent of the population will eventually have access to a fibre to the premises broadband connection, with the remaining seven per cent being connected to a fixed wireless or satellite service.

NBN diagram

The reason for the different technologies comes purely down to cost. While the bulk of Australia's population lives in cities, the cost of running fibre to remote parts of the country is far from cost effective.

By using fixed wireless and satellite services, NBNCo is able to manage the expense of building the network, while providing rural Australians with an internet connection speed that is actually usable.

Fibre to the premises

Fibre to the Premises, or FTTP, is exactly what it sounds like. Optical fibre runs from the local exchange to the house directly, allowing for super-fast broadband speeds.

By contrast, Fibre to the node (FTTN) only delivers the optical fibre to the local node, relying on a pre-installed copper connection to connect each house to the network.

While there are definite speed improvements for FTTN over a complete copper connection, it still suffers from many of the problems faced by current copper infrastructure.

At present, NBNCo is making its FTTP network available with download speeds up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of 40Mbps. But the company has already announced its intention of upgrading that to 1Gbps download speeds before the network is completed.

Fixed wireless

Roughly four per cent of the population living outside the fibre footprint will get access to broadband using a fixed wireless service. But what does that even mean?

For the NBN, fixed wireless will use a version of the LTE 4G technology, running on the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrums.

Unlike the 4G services from Telstra and Optus, the NBN fixed wireless technology will deliver a set amount of bandwidth to a set amount of people.

Where mobile networks can have lots of different people accessing the network at the same time, slowing the network down, NBNCo can effectively guarantee enough bandwidth for each user by having a pre-determined amount of people on its fixed wireless network.

It also won't be affected by changing distances away from the mobile towers like your 4G smartphone.

Initially, NBNCo's fixed wireless service will be limited to theoretical maximum speeds of 12Mbps. It has stated that it will improve those speeds in the future, although no timeframe has been given for the upgrade.

NBN Co purchased a chunk of spectrum from Austar in early 2011, plus an extra bit of spectrum from the ACMA in July that year to help deliver its fixed wireless network.


About three per cent of Australia's population lives in areas so remote that the only realistic way to offer a broadband connection is via satellite.

Satellite technology is hardly an ideal solution for broadband delivery. The interim offering currently available from NBN Co can only deliver up to 6 Mbps download speeds.

The current solution involves using bandwidth bought from Optus and IPstar satellites, but NBNCo has also made plans to build and deploy its own satellites.

Due to launch in 2015 by Space Systems/Loral, the two Ka band satellites will deliver 80 Gbps worth of bandwidth each, and will deliver peak speeds of 12Mbps to the 400,000 premises outside both the fibre and fixed wireless areas of the NBN.