NBN Properties – Brownfields vs Greenfields

NBN properties are classified under Brownfield or Greenfield categories; Brownfields refer to existing, established locations, while Greenfields are new developments and estates. Their relation to the National Broadband Network is in the way they are processed with NBN connections, whatever format is used. This involves construction and installation with respect to the roll out and any other NBN processes to be done on these properties.


These differences would also mean different options to take when getting the NBN. Brownfield areas may already have pre-existing facilities, such as HFC, or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial cables, and all forms of copper cable networks previously used on internet and phone services within the premises. They may also already belong to default coverage areas, either under Satellite NBN, or Fixed Wireless NBN. A lot of areas under the roll out mostly are marked for a specific format, to hasten the process. In a sense, the default formats are already set along with the roll out, depending on what facilities are available, and what format would be most suitable.

The concerns of Brownfield NBN processing

When processing Brownfield properties, the costs, timeframes, and extra work are bigger when trying to get a specific NBN format done instead of the available default format, since there is a need for new facilities and connections to be done. More often, the default NBN format in the area is a more practical option, and readily offered as to save extra costs, longer processing time, as well as extra work needed in getting a different format installed. This is usually applicable for FTTP, which is the first ideal choice of many.

Most subscribers accept the default format available, in order to skip over other processes involved, as well as extra costs and longer wait times. Properties in these regions are for move-ins and transfers, and the need for the NBN is accomplished faster, as most properties are already established with existing facilities, either already with an NBN connection, or NBN-ready for a certain format, going direct to checking and installation.

In some cases, when the subscriber for a home or business subscription in Brownfields insists on a specific format, they have to confirm with the retailer ISP, and have it applied with the NBN Co. through the Technology Choice Program. It could either be an Individual Premises Switch, for a singular request for a specific location wanting a specific format, or an Area Switch, which is comprised of a group or a small community that prefers a different NBN format other than the default one in the area already being offered as readily available.

There are fees associated with the application, as well as a quote for the construction and work needed to accomplish this. Of course, this is also subject to checking and approval if the process can be done, depending on the availability of a source line, and other obstacles in completing the connection.
One of the few limitations of Brownfield areas and properties is the lack of upgradeability or openness to newer NBN technology. All existing facilities mostly do not have the option for changing or upgrading, unless certain premises apply for a technology switch before the final NBN connection has been established. For example, Multi Technology Mix NBN facilities already installed in these areas cannot be upgraded to FTTC. While this may seem like a bad limitation, steps are being taken to improve and optimise existing facilities in order to achieve the closest in speed and performance as with regular NBN FTTP connections.

Going Green with Greenfields

Greenfields are new properties, and are open for the ideal possible formats of the NBN as they are in the development stages and are still to be constructed on and processed. These are entirely new properties, and do not have any pre-existing facilities, rather, new facilities and connections will be built once in the final stages. They are either under development or will be, according to the plans and the scheduled roll outs in these areas.

The options also depend on the contractors and builders if a specific format has been chosen for deployment. A choice of format can be made, assessed and then carried out. In this case, this is where FTTP really is the ideal choice and applicable, and carried out as much as possible. If in the rare case that FTTP is not possible, that is when an alternative option may be proposed and chosen.

The most suitable format has to be confirmed, and all necessary facilities installed before final deployment. Often, costs for these processes can be higher, especially for FTTP arrangements, which would entail a full fibre install from the source up to the premises. The planned NBN format is chosen first, and then undergoes construction before final deployment and installation. The requirements are taken care of on advance in order to realise the NBN format of choice.

One example is the upcoming FTTC design and build plans for Sydney and Melbourne. Majority of these properties are Greenfield areas, and the NBN infrastructure is still to be completed and installed. These FTTC plans are carried out when the construction and development happens. Other Greenfield properties elsewhere are still due for completion and processing, and when a newer format or version becomes available, Greenfields are easier to process, although more expensive, since new facilities have to be established first.

A major advantage for Greenfield areas and properties is that as NBN technology progresses, so does the possibility of getting the latest NBN format or innovation installed. Still, this all depends if it can be installed without complications and issues. Since Brownfields already have a pre-existing clause, they are limited to the default format; Greenfields mostly have access to these newer technologies such as FTTC, or maybe Satellite NBN / Fixed Wireless NBN if they are at a specific coverage area.