Understanding the different types of data networks

You’ve probably seen a bunch of random acronyms and digits relating to different internet connections – but what do they all mean? Well, there are different ways you can connect to the internet in Australia, with each one carrying their own speeds and benefits.

Some data networks use the National Broadband Network (NBN) to connect you while others use an existing telephone network.

Let’s take a look at the different connections in Australia.

5G network

5G network is the new data network in Australian internet. It is mobile data-focused, and promises a range of improvements including:

  • Super fast network speeds: 5G networks have the capacity for 20Gbps. That’s 20 Gigabits per second. This will vary depending on the number of devices connected to the network, how the network has been configured and the device used. But each individual user should expect a minimum download speed of 100Mbps. That’s the minimum speed for NBN networks alone.
  • More internet connections: 5G allows more users to connect to the network at the one time.
  • Lower latency period: This means that information will arrive from the internet to your phone much faster than previous networks.

Optical fibre networks

“Fibre” is a term commonly associated with the NBN. It connects to your home or office via bandwidth fibre-optic laid in overhead power lines or under the ground.

There are a number of different fibre connections:

  • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP): Fibre optic cables lead up to your home.
  • Fibre to the Curb (FTTC): Fibre optic cable is laid to your driveway or curb. It then connects to your existing copper phone line and provides internet access.
  • Fibre to the Node (FTTN): Fibre optic cable is laid to a central point in your area. The cable then connects to the pre-existing copper phone line for each house to gain internet access.
  • Fibre to the Building (FTTB): Fibre optic cable is laid to a central point of an apartment building. It then connects to the existing copper phone line in for each apartment to gain access.
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Fibre NMN connections are available in speeds of up to 100Mbps, or 100 megabits per second.

Why your chosen data network is important to connection speed

Fibre optic cable is the most popular connection because the internet signal does not weaken over long distances. However, the NBN has struggled in certain cases where copper wiring is part of the connection. Copper cabling causes signals to weaken, and this means it loses its strength over longer distances and the speed can drop.

Fibre to the Premises connections don’t contain any copper so that this typically isn’t a problem. With Fibre to the Build or Curb connections, there is only a small amount of copper involved. Once again, copper doesn’t typically cause any issues for these connection options.

Fibre to the Node connections utilise more copper. Therefore, they may struggle to reach a speed of 100Mbps. Homes that are situated more than 400 metres from the node shouldn’t expect to reach speeds of more than 60Mbps. These speeds get lower the further the house is situated from the node.

Other kinds of NMN connections

  • Cable: Cable, or Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC), is a broadband network that utilises the kind of cable used for pay TV. Cable NBN has the potential to reach speeds of up to 100Mbps.
  • Fixed wireless: Utilises the same technology as your mobile phone. It’s a variation of NBN connection that can be found in rural areas. It has slower speed, reaching around 50Mbps.
  • Satellite: Internet is beamed down from satellites to your home. This NBN connection is available in certain rural areas and has a top speed of around 25Mbps.
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