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Australia - National Broadband Network - HFC Networks


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Australia - National Broadband Network - HFC Networks

The roll out of the National Broadband Network under the December 2013 strategic review has placed a greater emphasis on existing hybrid fibre coax plant being utilised within the national broadband infrastructure. The HFC networks of Telstra and Optus's are being deployed as part of the NBN, so reducing the overall cost of the project's rollout. However, nbn's Corporate Plan for 2017 envisages greater use of FttN in HFC areas, given the mounting cost of connecting premises with HFC.

Before this incorporation within the NBN, the cable networks of Telstra and Optus had both been upgraded with DOCSIS3.0 technology, with many nodes capable of delivering data at up to 100Mb/s while the remainder can deliver data at up to 30Mb/s. In international terms, the capabilities of HFC in Australia remain comparatively low, and there is considerable scope for improvement. In Europe, HFC networks commonly deliver data at up to 360MB/s, while some networks (such as Vodafone's in Germany) deliver data at 400Mb/s.

Nbn completed trials of its HFC service in Redcliffe, Queensland, in February 2016 and planned to launch commercial services later in the year, with some 3.6 million premises expected to be serviced by the network. Nbn is also expected to operate services based on the DOCSIS3.1 during 2017, capable of delivering data at 1Gb/s. With the NBN being a hot-topic in the run up to the federal election, the opposition Labor party has declared that it would maintain the current plan of using HFC with DOCSIS3.1 in major metro areas.

In markets across Europe as well as in North America the key driver for deploying DOCSIS3.1 is the wave of new broadband and video competitors. Telcos as well as new operators such as Google Fiber are deploying 1Gb/s services based on FttH, and this is prompting cablecos to accelerate their DOCSIS3.1 deployment plans.

This report provides an overview of HFC networks, including the status of network upgrades as well as data on subscribers and market statistics.

Key developments:

Nbn to step up FttN connections in HFC areas; CableLabs certification of vendor equipment for DOCSIS3.1 supporting nbn's plans for DOCSIS3.1 roll out from 2017; ACCC considers access regulation on superfast broadband services; Optus HFC network could be unfit for purpose for incorporation within the NBN; HFC subscriber growth continues; NBN transition developments, fibre broadband subscriber base shows rapid rise; report update includes ABS data to December 2015, analysis of the NBN strategic review, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

AUSTAR, Optus, Foxtel, Telstra, Neighbourhood Cable, TransACT.


1. Synopsis
2. Technology
2.1 Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC)
2.2 The DOCSIS standard
2.3 The next development for DOCSIS
2.4 Can Cable Networks Deliver a Gigabit?
2.5 NBN Indicates Upgrade path for HFC
2.6 HFC DOCSIS vs. fibre
3. NBN - HFC Program
3.1 Statistical overview
3.2 Overall plan
3.3 FttN and FTTB as infills for HFC
3.4 Arris appointed supplier of the network
3.5 Roll out plan
3.6 HFC pilot in Queensland
4. Market statistics and estimates
5. Telstra
5.1 Background information
5.2 Network upgrades
6. Optus
6.1 Overview
7. IiNet/TransACT
8. BES/e-wire
9. hfc NETWORK dARWIN
10. Industry analysis
10.1 DOCSIS3.0 -v- DOCSIS3.1
10.2 Do we need infrastructure-based competition?
10.3 Moving on from the HFC of the past
10.4 HFC incorporated in multi-technology NBN
10.5 From HFC to Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
10.6 Open access policy
10.7 Superfast Broadband Access Service (SBAS)
11. Related reports
Table 1 HFC Roll out 2016-2018
Table 2 - Weighted average cost per HFC premise (rounded nearest $100)
Table 3 NBN capital expenditure FY2015-2016
Table 4 HFC cable broadband subscribers 2012 - 2017
Table 5 Cable broadband subscribers by major operator and annual change 2002 - 2015
Table 6 Cable subscribers versus other broadband technologies 2009 - 2015
Table 7 Optus financial data 2011 - 2016
Table 8 Optus financial data by sector 2009 - 2016
Table 9 Optus on-net broadband subscribers 2009 - 2016
Chart 1 Overview of cable broadband subscribers by operator and annual change 2002 - 2015
Chart 2 Overview of cable subscribers versus other broadband technologies 2009 2015
Chart 3 Optus financial data 2011 2016

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