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NBN moves away from Optus HFC in network rollout

NBN moves away from Optus HFC in network rollout

Optus HFC could be passed over in favour of Fibre-to-the-curb NBN connection

Nbn will consider Fibre-to-the-Distribution Point (FTTdp) connection for over 700,000 premises previously earmarked for connection to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via existing Optus Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) infrastructure or Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) technology.

The move follows the decision by nbn to ease back on its reliance of existing hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cable infrastructure in its national rollout of the network, citing rising costs associated with the technology.

As revealed in its 2016 corporate plan, the company is lowering the number of premises to which it will rollout the network using the HFC infrastructure, from 4 million, to between 2.5 million and 3.2 million by 2020.

According to the plan, the forecast cost of rolling out the network using the existing Telstra and Optus HFC network infrastructure had risen to $2,300 per premises, up from its previous estimate of $1,800 per premises.

"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,” said nbn chief network engineering officer, Peter Ryan.

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

Nbn has not revealed precisely how many premises with an existing Optus HFC link it is choosing to connect via FTTdp technology -- also known as Fibre-to-the-curb.

However, the company's announcement that it is now leaning towards FTTdp connection in areas served solely by the Optus HFC network suggests that it may end up largely writing off the telco's existing infrastructure for NBN purposes.

Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, subsequently confirmed that FTTdp is "something that will make sense for the bulk of the Optus network".

The Optus cable network, which nbn purchased for $800 million, had previously been described as “not fit for purpose” in leaked nbn documents published last year.

"When we consider the advancements we've made in FTTdp, combined with the up-to-date learnings we have on the Optus HFC network, nbn has confirmed it will deploy FTTdp in those areas where the use of the Optus HFC network was planned, with the exception of the already launched network in Redcliffe, Queensland,” Ryan said.

“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,” he said.

This article was updated on 30 September, 2016.

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