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Australia’s nbn Joins CableLabs

Australian government-backed National Broadband Network (nbn) is now a card-carrying member of CableLabs, the Colorado-based R&D unit of the cable industry that has been broadening its global influence.

nbn announced this week that it is the first cable network operator in the Oceania region to join CableLabs, making it the 56th member of the organization, which also counts members such as Comcast, Liberty Global, Jupiter Telecom (Japan), Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications (Canada) and  Vodafone (Germany).

nbn is pushing ahead with a plan to complete a network build/upgrade by 2020 that will connect 8 million premises, but recently reduced the mix that will lean on a hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) architecture. nbn also hasannounced plans to launch DOCSIS 3.1 servicesand target gigabit speeds in the second half of 2017 using the CableLabs-specified multi-gigabit platform for HFC. nbn announced earlier this month that about 2 million homes and businesses have been connected and that it expects to reach the halfway point of its build by around mid-2017.

RELATED: nbn Lowers HFC Goals

The announcement also noted that nbn will become part of a “collaborative process” at CableLabs that is involves Full Duplex DOCSIS, an annex to D3.1 that will support symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds.

“As the research and development lab for the global cable industry, we are looking forward to supporting nbn’s deployment of DOCSIS 3.1 in its integrated optical fibre and coaxial cable network,” CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney said in a statement.

The addition of nbn also squares with CableLabs’s global-facing efforts.

CableLabs and Cable Europe Labs merged in 2013, and CableLabs recently cancelled the 2018 annual Winter Conference and, in its place, will host an “Inform[ED]” conference in Lisbon, Portugal. A source familiar with CableLabs’s plans told Multichannel News that the organization is interested in holding multiple conferences around the world to drive its international strategy.

RELATED: Cable’s R&D Hub Adds New Faces in Ongoing Quest for Global Reach (subscription required)

CableLabs confirmed that Jeff Chen, an engineering exec late of Bright House Networks, joined CableLabs in February in the newly created role of senior vice president, global technology. CableLabs said Chen will focus on developing and maintaining relationships with CableLabs members in Asia, Europe and Latin America, by way of promoting CableLabs R&D, strategy and innovation efforts and getting a fix on their priorities.