NBN Co confirms gigabit tech upgrade for HFC

NBN Co has confirmed it will roll out the DOCSIS 3.1 standard for the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable broadband networks it is acquiring from Telstra and Optus.

The announcement was made overnight by NBN Co's CTO, Dennis Steiger, at Cable Congress 2015 in Brussels, and comes on the heels of announced yesterday.

The standard supports speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second down and 1Gbps up and can handle data more efficiently than existing cable networks, according to NBN Co.

A statement issued by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that households with HFC NBN connections will be able to access 1Gbps/100Mbps speeds when the standard is rolled out.

The rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 will begin in 2017.

"NBN will utilise a network that is already deployed across millions of homes and businesses in Australia," Steiger said in a statement.

"By re-architecting the ratio of homes to a node and the use of the latest technology underpinning DOCSIS 3.1, Australia’s HFC network will become one of the most state-of-the-art technologies used to deploy broadband services.

"Effectively, this technology has the potential to offer speeds equivalent to what’s on offer by full fibre to the premises and up to 100 times faster (up to 10Gbps) than what is currently provided by today’s HFC network."

NBN Co has previously confirmed it would upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 the HFC networks it will progressively take possession of in deals it signed with Telstra and Optus last year.

NBN Co has already signed a contract with ARRIS to provide equipment for the HFC component of the NBN.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow earlier this year talked up the potential for gigabit speeds over HFC.

"The fact that we're going to be able to do this with our HFC network the fact that that HFC network is a far lower maintenance element than any of the other metallic-based, copper delivery services is good news for the consumer," the CEO said.

"The fact that we're getting this asset virtually for free from these two carriers means that that cost per premises element on this super-high-speed, easy to maintain, good product is going to be good for the taxpayer.

The initial commercial release of HFC services on the NBN is slated for Q1 2016, according to the January 2015 edition of NBN Co's product roadmap.

NBN Co 'Technology Choice Program

NBN Co today revealed details of its program to allow individuals and communities to pay for an upgrade to the type of technology used to hook them up to the National Broadband Network.

The program will allow, for example, premises to be upgraded from a fibre-to-the-node rollout to fibre-to-the-premises.

The 'Technology Choice Program' has two components: 'Area Switch' for communities or individual apartment blocks and 'Individual Premises Switch' for individual households and businesses.

"The cost to change technology for Area Switch can range from tens of thousands of dollars to several millions of dollars," according to NBN Co.

"The cost for Individual Premises Switch can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The cost generally depends upon the size and complexity of the project. As various factors will impact on the final cost to move to an alternate technology, NBN Co will assess every application individually so that these various factors can be taken into account and so that it can provide applicants with a high level cost estimate. An application fee is payable to procure the cost estimate."


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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