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Australia - National Broadband Network - HFC Networks

  • June 2017
  • 13 pages
  • Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd
Report ID: 3001635

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The HFC networks of Telstra and Optus's are being deployed as part of the NBN, so reducing the overall cost of the project's rollout. However, nbn's Corporate Plan for 2017 envisages greater use of FttN in HFC areas, given the mounting cost of connecting premises with HFC.

In international terms, the capabilities of HFC in Australia remain comparatively low, and there is considerable scope for improvement. In Europe, HFC networks commonly deliver data at up to 360MB/s, while some networks (such as Vodafone's in Germany) deliver data at 400Mb/s.

Following early lab trials in Melbourne in mid 2017, NBN is confident that it will be able to deliver gigabit speeds over its HFC networks later in 2017.

NBN expects to be one of first operators outside of the US to commercially launch DOCSIS 3.1 technology as an upgrade path for the HFC network. Nbn is expected to operate services based on the DOCSIS3.1 during 2018, capable of delivering data at 1Gb/s. It is also actively looking at other cable networking advances such as full-duplex DOCSIS technology, which is capable of 10Gbps symmetrical speeds.

The nbn has confirmed Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp), also known as Fibre-to-the-curb, would be deployed to a potential footprint of up to 700,000 premises across the country. The nbn is abandoning plans to reuse existing Optus HFC assets, with the exception of the already launched network in Redcliffe, Queensland.

The expanded FTTC footprint fills the void left by NBN's decision not to use the Optus cable assets, although it will still be using Telstra's more extensive HFC network as planned. NBN is however still aiming for an HFC footprint of between 2.5 and 3.2 million premises by 2020, using the Telstra assets.
This report provides an overview of HFC networks, including the status of network upgrades as well as data on subscribers and market statistics.

Key developments:

FttN, HFC; CableLabs DOCSIS3.1, Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp), Optus HFC network, NBN transition developments, fibre broadband subscriber base

Companies mentioned in this report:

AUSTAR, Optus, Foxtel, Telstra, Neighbourhood Cable, TransACT.

The roll out of the National Broadband Network under the December 2013 strategic review has placed a greater emphasis on existing hybrid fibre coax plant being utilised within the national broadband infrastructure. The HFC networks of Telstra and Optus's are being deployed as part of the NBN, so reducing the overall cost of the project's rollout. However, nbn's Corporate Plan for 2017 envisages greater use of FttN in HFC areas, given the mounting cost of connecting premises with HFC.

By March 2017, 351,000 premises in Australia were ready for service for HFC and 63,000 premises had been activated.

Before this incorporation within the NBN, the cable networks of Telstra and Optus had both been upgraded with DOCSIS3.0 technology, with many nodes capable of delivering data at up to 100Mb/s while the remainder can deliver data at up to 30Mb/s. In international terms, the capabilities of HFC in Australia remain comparatively low, and there is considerable scope for improvement. In Europe, HFC networks commonly deliver data at up to 360MB/s, while some networks (such as Vodafone's in Germany) deliver data at 400Mb/s.

Nbn completed trials of its HFC service in Redcliffe, Queensland, in February 2016 and planned to launch commercial services later in the year, with some 3.6 million premises expected to be serviced by the network.

Following early lab trials in Melbourne in mid 2017, NBN is confident that it will be able to deliver gigabit speeds over its HFC networks later in 2017.

NBN expects to be one of first operators outside of the US to commercially launch DOCSIS 3.1 technology as an upgrade path for the HFC network. Nbn is expected to operate services based on the DOCSIS3.1 during 2018, capable of delivering data at 1Gb/s. It is also actively looking at other cable networking advances such as full-duplex DOCSIS technology, which is capable of 10Gbps symmetrical speeds.

In September 2016 nbn confirmed Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp), also known as Fibre-to-the-curb, would be deployed to a potential footprint of up to 700,000 premises across the country. The nbn is abandoning plans to reuse existing Optus HFC assets, with the exception of the already launched network in Redcliffe, Queensland.

The expanded FTTC footprint fills the void left by NBN's decision not to use the Optus cable assets, although it will still be using Telstra's more extensive HFC network as planned. NBN is however still aiming for an HFC footprint of between 2.5 and 3.2 million premises by 2020, using the Telstra assets. The next step in the FTTC process will be a much more extensive field trial in mid-2017 with NBN's RSP customers, going all the way from exchange to pit to premise.

In markets across Europe as well as in North America the key driver for deploying DOCSIS3.1 is the wave of new broadband and video competitors. Telcos as well as new operators such as Google Fiber are deploying 1Gb/s services based on FttH, and this is prompting cablecos to accelerate their DOCSIS3.1 deployment plans.

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