NBN likely to share HFC with Foxtel

National Broadband Network services and pay TV service Foxtel are likely to co-exist on the hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network currently owned by Telstra, according to NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow.

Foxtel is 50:50 joint venture between Telstra and News Corporation.

"The nature of coaxial cable is that it gives you a great deal of bandwidth," Morrow said today during the presentation of NBN Co's annual results.

Both Telstra and Optus operate HFC networks in Australia. Under the rollout plan of the former Labor government, the networks were to be shutdown and users migrated to NBN fibre.

However, the Coalition government has directed NBN Co to complete the NBN's roll out employing a mix of technologies, not just the fibre-to-the premises technology mandated by Labor.

The two Australian HFC networks cover approximately 2.7 million premises, according to the NBN strategic review of its fixed line operations released last year.

"A further ~0.7 million premises are in the geographic area bounded by the networks, but currently not passed," the review states.

"Completing the construction of the HFC network to connect all premises within the geographic area that both networks bound would provide fast broadband to up to ~3.4 million premises."

A statement of expectations issued by the government to NBN Co in April directed the company to "integrate existing HFC networks into the rollout where this is feasible and economically beneficial, and provide for wholesale-only, open access operation of these".

"The intent with Telstra is that Foxtel will still be carried over [the existing HFC network]," Morrow said today.

"It leaves ample bandwidth on that cable for us to be able to offer the broadband services, and with the Optus network it's going to be free and clear available to us."

"It will still be over the same network for Foxtel is the way you should look at it," Morrow said.

"Over time we think over-the-top applications will eventually come in, but it will be our commitment to serve Foxtel for the duration they need it."

"The Foxtel spectrum is independent of the broadband spectrum we'll be using," NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock said.

The future of the HFC networks are part of the negotiations with Telstra and Optus, Adcock said.

"We've done a lot of work looking at the feasibility and options around the HFC networks," the COO said.

"At this time, assuming NBN Co acquires an end-to-end HFC network, the HFC option still appears favourable. Accordingly, the HFC networks remain part of the dialog with both current asset owners — Telstra and Optus."

"The introduction of new equipment can also attract long supply and integration lead times and will be on the critical path of any HFC service delivery," Adcock said.

"Actions are already underway via an RFP with the supply market for most of the central and technically complex elements of the HFC networks that will require upgrading."

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon