Nearly five months after the temporary pause on all new orders over its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) access network to fix technical issues, NBN Co will begin a staged restart of wholesale HFC services sales to retailers from 27 April 2018.
The company behind the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) plans to initially release around 1,000 premises in HFC access network footprint in Melbourne and Sydney.
Altogether, NBN Co said it is planning to release around 38,000 HFC premises by the end of June in select areas across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Meanwhile, from July, NBN Co expects to ramp up the release of HFC premises to retailers, with forecasts that the rollout could hit up to 100,000 premises per month.
NBN Co first suspended new sales of the services delivered via its HFC access network in a bid to address network problems that had been affecting the HFC infrastructure specifically, including drop-outs and connection issues.
The company's HFC infrastructure – built predominantly for cable television services – was acquired from Telstra and Optus for billions in 2014, and represents one of the more recent technologies in the Government’s preferred multi-technology mix (MTM) rollout to be launched by the company.
The move to halt new HFC came after the volume of service issue complaints from customers accessing the NBN via the HFC technology surged compared to those from customers using the other access technologies.
Now, NBN Co said it has undertaken considerable work on the HFC network, ensuring network performance and stability has improved substantially.
“We are pleased with the improvements seen from the additional work undertaken while sales have been paused on the HFC network,” NBN Co chief executive officer, Bill Morrow, said. “We expect to see an uplift in customer experience as a result of these improvements.”
At the same time, NBN Co plans to increase its planned Fibre-to-the-Curb (FttC) footprint, with an additional 440,000 homes and businesses around Australia set to receive the new technology.
It should be noted that the additional premises that has been added to the FttC footprint were originally planned for the Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) ‘long-copper lines’ and ‘infill and extension’ premises within the existing planned HFC footprint.
NBN Co first revealed that its first FttC services had become available to the two regions in NSW and Victoria on 29 March. On 9 April, Minister for Communications, Senator, Mitch Fifield, was onsite in Miranda, NSW, for the official launch.
Fifield said at the time that about one million premises nationwide will benefit from the new technology, but that this figure could "change at the margins" as the rollout progresses.
Now, with the addition of 440,000 premises set to be included in the FttC network, the total planned FttC footprint is closer to 1.5 million homes and businesses by 2020.
“We remain confident of reaching our goal of completing the build and connecting eight million Australian premises by 2020,” Morrow said.