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Nbn’s DOCSIS 3.1 Tests Hit a Gig in the Downstream

Australian government-backed National Broadband Network (nbn) said its lab tests of DOCSIS 3.1 technology have produced downstream speeds of about 1 Gbps and upstream speeds of 100 Mbps, more than double the 40 Mbps its retail partners are offering via the HFC portion of the nbn network.

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Those lab trials were conducted in Melbourne (on HFC plant acquired from Telstra), and indicate that gigabit speeds are “around the corner” for eligible homes and businesses in other markets, including Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast, nbn said.

Nbn said it plans to conduct more D3.1 lab tests in August and shift to field trials in December, with a “potential commercial launch” of D3.1 services in 2018.

"These early tests of DOCSIS 3.1 technology are very exciting,” Bill Morrow, nbn’s CEO, said in a statement. “This is another example of the continued efforts of the nbn team to innovate and plan for Australia's growing demands for data. DOCSIS 3.1 is going to be able to provide fantastic gigabit potential for end users – just as our Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network does today.”

Nbn’s current goal is to provide universal high-speed broadband to 8 million homes and businesses by 2020 using a mix of access technologies, including HFC, fixed wireless, satellite, fiber-to-the-node, and fiber-to-the-premises. Arris is a key player for the HFC portion of nbn’s upgrade plan.

Under the most recent corporate plan, the “base case” is to have 17% of the nbn network use FTTP, 51% to use a mix of fiber-to-the-node/basement/distribution point, 24% HFC, and 8% fixed wireless and satellite.

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In May, nbn said about 5 million homes and businesses could connect to retail services via its network, noting that, on average, it was activating about 250,000 premises per month so far in 2017. About 2.2 million premises can currently connect to retail services over the nbn network.