NBN prepares for full-scale HFC rollout

Reveals construction partners for HFC expansion

NBN believes it is on track for having some 900,000 premises able to order hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) National Broadband Network services by late June next year.

The government-owned company this morning revealed it had signed contracts with half a dozen firms that will carry out construction work within the Telstra HFC footprint. Under agreements signed with Telstra and Optus, NBN is taking ownership of the telcos’ HFC networks and using them as a key component in the ‘multi-technology mix’ (MTM) National Broadband Network blueprint.

The contracts signed today will ultimately see some 3.5 million premises within the Telstra footprint hooked up to the network. According to NBN, the precise technologies used within that footprint are still potentially subject to change.

NBN said it had signed agreements with Lend Lease, Broadspectrum, Fulton Hogan, Downer, ISGM and BSA for the work.

Under a $1.6 billion agreement with Telstra signed in April, the telco will take charge of the planning, design and management for the bulk of the HFC rollout. That includes managing the six construction partners unveiled today.

The rollout within the Optus HFC footprint is still subject to negotiations, according to NBN. Some 400,000 premises are set to be connected within the Optus HFC footprint.

The first commercial NBN HFC services were launched last month in Queensland. Those services were based on Optus HFC infrastructure in Redcliffe.

NBN is preparing to roll out DOCSIS 3.1 for its HFC network in 2017. The cable broadband standard will potentially offer a significant boost to HFC speeds, with NBN slated to launch trials of DOCSIS 3.1 in the first half of 2017, ahead of a commercial launch in the second half.

The other key fixed line components for the network are fibre to the premises (FTTP) and fibre to the node (NBN lumps together fibre to the basement and FTTN in a single category). During the election Labor called for a phase-out of FTTN.

Read more: Macquarie Telecom chief issues customer service warning to telcos

Under the NBN current corporate plan, FTTP will be used to connect 2.4 million premises, FTTN/B will connect 4.5 million premises, and HFC will connect around 4 million premises. However, the company says the precise mix may be altered as the rollout progresses.

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Tags broadbandNetworkingnational broadband networkNational Broadband Network (NBN)

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