NBN ditches Optus HFC for FTTdp

Up to 700,000 premises to receive fibre to the distribution point

NBN will not be using Optus’ hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) assets outside of the one area — Redcliffe in Queensland — where they are currently used to provide National Broadband Network connections. Instead the company has announced it will proceed with a larger rollout of fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp) in the areas within the Optus HFC footprint.

Up to 700,000 premises are expected to be connected using FTTdp. Optus has welcomed the decision.

FTTdp, also called fibre to curb, involves rolling out optical fibre significantly closer to end users’ premises than the fibre to the node (FTTN) technology used elsewhere in the network, but like FTTN employs copper phonelines for the final connection to a home or business.

NBN has conducted trials in Sydney and Melbourne of FTTdp technology. However, previously it has said it would most likely be used to hook up some 300,000 premises — mostly in areas where FTTN would not be cost effective because of the difficulty of providing power to the nodes.

The condition of Optus’ HFC network has been a source of controversy. Under the original NBN blueprint, fibre to the premises (FTTP) would be used to hook up all households within the network’s fixed-line footprint. However, under the revised ‘multi-technology mix’ approach championed by Malcolm Turnbull, areas covered by the telcos’ cable TV networks were originally expected to be connected via HFC.

A leaked internal NBN document circulated by Labor in late 2015 revealed that the Optus HFC network was not “fully fit for purpose” in all areas and that some 470,000 premises within its footprint may have to be overbuilt using either FTTx technologies or Telstra’s HFC network.

Some Optus equipment is approaching its end of life, Optus HFC nodes are oversubscribed and existing Optus cable modem termination systems didn’t have enough capacity for NBN services, the document said.

The document was one of a series of leaked internal documents that led to an Australian Federal Police raid targetting the office of Labor Senator Stephen Conroy.

NBN has forged ahead with use of the Telstra HFC network. NBN has said it is on track to have 900,000 premises able to HFC services by late June next year. 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, including managing half a dozen construction partners.

In August, NBN released an updated corporate plan that saw the number of premises expected to be connected via hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cut from 4 million to 2.5-3.2 million.

The updated plan said that NBN expected to see FTTN, fibre to the basement (FTTB) and FTTdp used to connect 5.1-6.5 million homes, up from 4.5 million in the previous edition of the corporate plan.

“We had originally circled a number of homes — about 4 million — to be slated for HFC,” NBN CEO Bill Morrow said at the time. “That now is down in to a range of 2.5 million to 3.2 million. Now many of those have shifted over into the FTTN/B/dp environment.”

The previous corporate plan said the expected cost per premise for HFC was $1800 — the updated plan said NBN expected it to be $2300, putting it level with FTTN (but cheaper than FTTP connections in brownfields areas, which come in at $4400).

“We have tested FTTdp over the last year and we're confident we can now deploy the technology in areas where it makes better sense from a customer experience, deployment efficiency and cost perspective,” NBN chief network engineering officer, Peter Ryan, said in a statement released today.

“This includes premises in the FTTN footprint that have too high a cost per premises and premises served solely by the legacy Optus HFC footprint that are yet to be made ready for service.”

“HFC remains a highly valued part of our MTM deployment, however in balancing the requirements to convert Optus’s current network architecture and design to be nbn-ready, and the opportunity to introduce FTTdp, makes the new technology compelling in these selected areas,” Ryan said.

Today’s announcement means that NBN will pay for the Optus HFC assets used Redcliffe, but won’t purchase the right to use any more of the telco’s cable TV infrastructure. Under revised deals negotiated with the telcos in late 2014 NBN had the option of using elements of the HFC networks for its rollout.

Depending on the outcome of the rollout within the Optus HFC footprint, FTTdp could potentially see a wider deployment.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NetworkingNational Broadband Network (NBN)nbn conational broadband networkbroadband

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Rohan Pearce

Rohan Pearce

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?