NBN, Fibre, and Interference Issues

One of the main features of fibre based NBN is almost zero interference. The actual physical composition of a fibre cable enables it to transmit data to and fro at light speeds with no external and electromagnetic interference, or outsider / external tap since the light inside the optical fibre is encased in layers and is virtually impenetrable. It is also well protected and sheathed against all other common elements that can easily affect the cable, such as water, heat, corrosion, radio wave transmissions, and other factors.


However, there are interference issues encountered in its other non-pure fibre formats. Where Fibre ends, outside elements can cause interference and disrupt transmissions, causing latency and signal noise issues, among others. The same can be said with wireless versions of it, caused by many other external conditions and elements.

Multi Technology Mix NBN, which is part copper and part fibre, and its wireless versions in Fixed Wireless and Satellite NBN have the most known causes. This has become a point of contention against pure fibre and all other versions. It is a commercial and technological concern of everyone from the informed subscribers, to stakeholders, and those in the NBN and fibre fields as well.

This is where anti-interference optimisation comes into the picture. While there are methods in development and already in use, it cannot guarantee 100% elimination of all outside interference, only put it an almost negligible level of normal operation. The ongoing development of eliminating it (for good?) continues, in the bid to match its pure fibre version, and uphold NBN Co.’s global standards.
Most of these issues stem from the non Fibre cable components. These are direct from the part copper connections as the copper components are less superior to the main fibre material and overall construction of standard broadband fibre cables. They pose similar issues that were also previous issues as well of older broadband formats that also used copper, albeit as the main delivery method, such as Cable and ADSL.

There have been key developments over the years to reduce the interference issues with advanced technology and optimisation methods, such as noise cancelling through vectoring, used extensively in G.Fast and XG.Fast technology for newer Multi Technology Mix NBN formats like FTTC (Fibre to the Curb). It made use of short twisted copper loops that were used in short distance connections to the fibre source, eliminating noise and outside interference. This was developed from VDSL technology which was the next step from ADSL, in a bid to improve the older format.

The technology and methods have greatly reduced outside interference, and also increased the speed and performance of these copper elements to match Fibre’s own speed and performance. While these issues are common, the fact that the copper elements are within the premises and around it limit the issues to any sources in the vicinity, making these issues exclusive to immediate surroundings within.

With Fixed Wireless and Satellite, the external conditions are suspect; we expect interference from many surrounding outside sources, including but not limited to other transmission towers, radio equipment, electromagnetic fields from appliances and equipment, other Wi-Fi and wireless devices, as well as any similar equipment within range. This will also include other non-technical interference from outside elements that are common with these formats, such as weather and environmental elements and conditions. This makes issues with these formats wider and a little more difficult to identify and remedy.

However, most of these issues are resolvable, but are more specific, and require direct help from technical support and field teams as they come from different sources, as well as have different types of resolutions. Usually, relocating problem equipment, adjusting, and / or redirecting their transmissions away from the NBN equipment if possible (given if there would be no other problems if this is done) will resolve it, once located as well as identified and duly determined to be the cause.

This is a problem with its duality: while the wireless NBN format is in itself a solution in bringing the NBN service to unreachable areas with the same level of speed and quality, it is also the reason it leaves it open and vulnerable to many external interferences since it is not fibre cable based.

In addition to these, there also have been reports of Fixed Wireless NBN equipment actually causing the interference issues, particularly to HF / MW emergency communications systems and radio systems mostly used for emergencies. Fortunately, these types of errors are also resolved by retailer ISP companies.