NBN Co has provided an update on its free fibre upgrade program, and it’s slowly but surely making good on its promise to get Aussies off the crappest fixed-line internet technologies and onto more robust modern alternatives.
When we say ‘crappest’, we’re largely talking about fixed-line fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) connections. As we’ve noted before, FTTN really is crap, and while around a third of NBN fixed-line customers are on FTTN, the tech accounts for up to 90% of underperforming services according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) broadband report from December 2023.
But since March 2022, NBN Co has been offering free fibre upgrades to Aussies who want to get off the languishing FTTN network and onto a superior fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection, and in its latest half-yearly report, it’s revealed that almost 200,000 homes and businesses have taken up the offer for a full fibre service to date.
While that may sound like significant progress, for a bit of context, as of September 2023, there were still 2.98m Australians on FTTN connections. In order to actually get the full fibre upgrade, moreover, Aussies are required to place an order for an NBN 100 plan or above.
NBN Co says around 7,000 customers each week on average are joining the queue and placing orders to upgrade, but even at that rate, it could still take the better part of a decade before FTTN connections are finally eliminated… and that’s supposing that everyone on the ageing technology takes up the upgrade offer.
NBN Co’s FY24 half year report also notes that 75% of premises on the fixed-line network now have the ability to order an NBN 1000 plan, but this doesn’t mean they’re all on FTTP tech; many hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) connections are also capable of connecting to a 1,000Mbps plan.
If you’re one of the millions of Aussies still on FTTN and you’re thinking about upgrading, NBN Co has confirmed that the average time between placing an upgrade order and receiving the work is 2-4 weeks. If you need help choosing a good fast internet plan, we have a dedicated guide to the fastest NBN plans with curated recommendations, or you can compare gigabit plans in the table below.
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Jasmine Gearie is an Ecommerce Editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers cut through the jargon to find the best mobile and internet plans for their needs. She crunches the numbers to maintain dedicated guides to the latest phones, NBN and broadband plans of all types, and covers the important telco industry news. She also hunts down tech deals on laptops, phones, gaming consoles and more, so readers know where to buy the products they want for the cheapest prices.