NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow. Photo: Daniel Munoz
Households with a fibre-to-the-node connection - the slowest of the NBN Co's fixed technologies - will get an upgrade when augmented reality, virtual reality and ultra high definition internet television become mainstream, the company's chief executive told a Senate committee on Tuesday night.
Bill Morrow said these futuristic applications will need much faster speeds like 50 megabits per second [Mbps] or 100 Mbps.
"When we see that people are willing to pay more than what they are paying today for 25 Mbps, then we will build a business case [for an upgrade]."
About four million premises, around 30 per cent, are expected to be connected to NBN Co's network through fibre-to-the-node [FTTN], which uses their existing copper telephone wire for several hundred metres. Photo: Glenn Hunt
He said NBN Co works on a five-year technology plan that is regularly reviewed to see what speed requirements people have.
About four million premises, around 30 per cent, are expected to be connected to NBN Co's network through fibre-to-the-node [FTTN], which uses their existing copper telephone wire for several hundred metres.
Mr Morrow said the company is "constantly looking at reducing" the number of households on FTTN. That type of connection is slower than fibre-to-the-premises [FTTP], fibre-to-the-curb [FTTC] or cable, because copper wires are slower than fibre optic cables and the more copper there is in a connection, the slower it is.
Labor senator Deborah O'Neill asked if NBN Co has money set aside to upgrade NSW's Central Coast from mostly FTTN to FTTP or FTTC.
Mr Morrow said NBN Co would upgrade it when residents were willing to pay for it, either through covering the construction cost or proving enough were willing to pay for faster speeds.
"You have to be willing to pay above what you are willing to pay today for the 25 Mbps service," he said.
Similarly, Mr Morrow said there is not demand today for a 1 gigabit per second [Gbps] connection, even though it is available to the 1.5 million homes with an FTTP connection.
"It's available today and any retailer could chose that if they desire," Mr Morrow said.
"And the reason [they are not selling] is that today there are not the applications."
Eventually premises on the upgraded cable network would also be able to get those speeds.
"That HFC will keep pace with whatever comes... 50 per cent of the nation will have gigabit capabilities," Mr Morrow said under questioning from Greens senator Scott Ludlam.
Mr Morrow said the price of gigabit per second wasn't prohibitive, there just wasn't the need for it in 2017.
NBN Co's chief customer officer, John Simon, also told the committee that premises connecting to the NBN through SkyMuster satellites won't have their internet speeds drained by a trial for Qantas planes to access the same satellites for inflight WiFi.
Planes will use about 0.3 per cent of the capacity available, or the equivalent of about 1500 homes. Plus the peak period for Qantas passengers is likely to be 5pm to 6pm, which is outside peak usage of SkyMuster in homes.
However if NBN find customers do get slower speeds, it won't proceed beyond the trial, he added.
But if it is successful, emergency services like the Royal Flying Doctors Service may also eventually access aero-broadband.