NBN Co. Restarts HFC Sales Effort

NBN Co, the mixed-access broadband initiative backed by the Australian government, said it is expanding its fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) footprint as it prepares to relaunch wholesale services on parts of the national network delivered via hybrid fiber/coax (HFC).  

On the FTTC front, NBN will roll that technology out to an additional 440,000 homes and businesses, taking the total planned FTTC footprint close to 1.5 million premises by 2020. Those 440,000 additions were originally slated for fiber-to-the-node access networks within the existing planned HFC footprint.  

Those newly planned FTTC premises are also inside or adjacent to existing Telstra HFC network coverage but are not able to connect to the Telstra HFC network, NBN noted.  

NBN also said it will begin a staged resale of wholesale HFC services to retailers starting April 27, with an initial release of about 1,000 premises in its HFC access network footprint in Melbourne and Sydney, and another 38,000 set for release by the end of June in parts of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.  

From July onward, NBN said it expects to “significantly ramp up” its release of HFC premises, expecting to hit about 100,000 per month.  

“We are pleased with the improvements seen from the additional work undertaken while sales have been paused on the HFC network,” Bill Morrow, NBN’s CEO, said in a statement. Morrow plans to step down from NBN by the end of 2018.  

“The flexibility of the multi-technology mix allows us to choose the right technology for each area and deliver the project on time and on budget,” added Morrow, who plans to step down from NBN by the end of 2018. “We remain confident of reaching our goal of completing the build and connecting eight million Australian premises by 2020.” 

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The current goal is to connect 8 million homes and businesses by 2020, with NBN expecting to end 2018 with 80% of the population able to connect to its national broadband network. NBN is trying to reach that goal using a variety of access technologies, including FTTP, fiber-to-the-node/basement/curb, HFC, fixed wireless and satellite broadband. 

 NBN is also teaming with Ericsson on a 5G trial in Melbourne as it looks at possible upgrade options for fixed wireless broadband services, according to ZDNet, which noted that NBN will use 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHZ band for the pilot.