Current pricing puts the NBN's current top speed of 1Gbps out of reach of most customers to the extent that NBN Co doesn't even mention it as an option on the web page intended to help customers choose the appropriate tier for their needs.
And just two months ago NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said he could only “presume” there still isn’t enough demand among consumers to make a 1Gbps service commercially attractive.
Yet it appears there's still hope for Australians dreaming of a future with ultra-high-speed broadband. NBN Co and Nokia announced they have successfully trialled NG-PON2 (Next-Generation Passive Optical Network 2) technology that would be capable of delivering symmetrical speeds of 10Gbps for fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) customers.
The word 'symmetrical' is especially important for business customers. The current 100Mbps tier provides a maximum download speed of 100Mbps but only 40Mbps for uploads. Symmetrical services are better in a variety of situations including replicating systems between sites, heavy use of videoconferencing, and sending large files (such as videos) to clients.
The increased capacity with NG-PON2 comes from sending between four and eight beams of light with different wavelengths down one fibre, with each wavelength providing 10Gbps.
While NBN Co is only talking about 10Gbps services for FTTP customers, NG-PON2 will potentially help improve the performance of the fibre portions of the fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) and what NBN Co calls fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) networks, in conjunction with emerging copper technologies such as G.fast or XG.FAST.
It could also provide extra capacity for the fibre links that support the hybrid fibre co-axial (HFC) and fixed wireless parts of the NBN. More capacity should mean less congestion, but the actual speeds seen by customers will still depend in part on their service providers buying sufficient capacity from NBN Co.
"Our successful trials of NG-PON2 technology with Nokia is another example of our ongoing commitment to continually develop the capabilities and speed of the NBN network," said NBN Co chief technology officer Dennis Steiger.
"The NG-PON2 trials we have conducted with Nokia have shown us the huge potential this very exciting technology has in terms of helping us deliver on future consumer demand for data at speed."