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In A World First, Australia’s NBN Tests Superfast Broadband Tech On Live Network

In a major boost to Australia’s broadband landscape, the government-owned nbn has achieved a maximum wholesale download speed of 83 Gbps on a live network.

To do so, NBN Co partnered with Nokia to test the technology on a live nbn full fibre access network.

The demonstration utilised Nokia’s prototype 100 gigabit technology. It is the first time the prototype technology has been deployed in a ‘real world’ case outside of a lab setting.

The successful test shows that the current fibre deployed on the nbn network can support the co-existence of multiple next-generation broadband technologies, including XGSPON, 25GS PON, 50G PON, and 100G PON.

Two demonstrations were run on a single nbn fibre. XGSPON, 25GS PON and 50G PON signals combined to achieve an aggregate Layer 1 PON speed of 85 Gbps (downstream), or Layer 2 download speeds of 71 Gbps (8 Gbps, 21 Gbps and 42 Gbps, respectively). Also, XGSPON, 25GS PON and 100 gigabit signals combined to achieve an aggregate Layer 1 PON speed of 135 Gbps (downstream), or Layer 2 download speeds of 112 Gbps (8 Gbps, 21 Gbps and 83 Gbps, respectively).

nbn full fibre network is also referred to as nbn Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). The demonstration was held at a FTTP exchange station in Sydney and involved researchers from Nokia’s Bell Labs.

The latest tests indicate that nbn could support the transition to multi-gigabit technologies without having to change its existing laid cable.

It comes at a time when nbn is progressively deploying Nokia’s MF-14 optical line terminal (OLT) onto the FTTP network, which supports higher capacity fibre optic broadband technologies. nbn was the first in the southern hemisphere to deploy Nokia’s MF series OLT

“Think enterprise, mobile backhaul, Smart City, industry 4.0. It’s important for service providers to have choices to match the right speed and cost points to meet the different use cases and market requirements they may have,” said Geert Heyninck, vice president of Broadband Networks at Nokia. “As the industry’s first and only solution capable of supporting the full range of PON technologies from 10G to 25G, 50G, and even 100G, we can give operators the freedom and flexibility they need to meet their business needs while also helping to optimise network performance and reduce costs.”

Dion Ljubanovic, nbn chief network officer, added, “This is an incredible result and demonstrates the fibre we continue to upgrade the network with today, is only limited by the capabilities of the equipment that will connect to it into the future. The average Aussie home is forecast to download around one terabyte per month within the next decade and technologies, like augmented reality and generative artificial intelligence, will place even greater demand on the network.”

Reports indicate that according to nbn, data demand and usage of its network has doubled in the last five years, with the average household now featuring 22 connected devices, and consuming 443 gigabytes per month. It expects this to increase to 33 devices by 2026, reaching 40 by the end of the decade.

In March, nbn said that it would increase the maximum available speeds on its FTTP and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) networks at no extra cost to retail ISPs. That rollout will take place over the course of 2024, and should reach approximately 9 million premises by the end of this year.

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