NBN Co trials gigabit download on shared HFC network, but no plans for services yet

Communications Day

July 17, 2019

Two trials of HFC technology by NBN Co using the DOCSIS 3.1 standard have achieved the “holy grail” objective of one gigabit upload and download speeds.

NBN Co announced overnight that an in-ϐield trial in Templestowe, Victoria achieved trial download speeds of 994Mbps, in co-existence with legacy usage.

A separate lab test with DOCSIS 3.1 demonstrated trial upload speeds of 988Mbps. The tests were facilitated by NBN Co’s HFC supplier Commscope, which acquired Arris in April.

The in-ϐield trial used a non-RSP connected layer 2 service in the home of the Templestowe NBN customer, while a direct link was established between the home and the local point of interconnect in North Balwyn.

Signiϐicantly the test result was achieved on a node co-existing with the legacy Telstra and Foxtel services. The required expanded spectrum was enabled by a progressive bandpass ϐilter swap program.

“The potential development of an ultra-fast speed tier offering on the NBN Co HFC network would require advanced technical work, consultation with retailers and vendors and shifts in market dynamics. Analysis of data growth suggests that downstream trafϐic demand is increasing faster than upstream trafϐic, suggesting that customers may prefer additional downstream performance. These trials allowed NBN to gather important new insights for the work that is required to support this potential market dynamic,” NBN Co said.

“This HFC gigabit trial using DOCSIS 3.1 is part of an ongoing program of work by NBN Co’s technology ofϐice to plan future upgrade paths on its access networks. Previous trials and demonstrations have included G.FAST and XG.FAST for FTTN/B/C, NGPON2 and XGS PON for FTTP, and new technology for the transit and wireless networks.,” it added.

NBN Co CTO Ray Owen said: “This is an important day for NBN. It shows how a speciϐic technology – HFC – is evolving to meet customer demand for greater capacity from their broadband connection over time. It’s good news for both residential and business customers using HFC as we have demonstrated both the wholesale download and upload capacity of this technology. As we work to complete our network rollout, we’re constantly looking at what’s over the horizon for all of our technology assets and how we can evolve our network as demand grows.”

Commscope senior vice president and segment leader, Network & Cloud Kevin Keefe added: “NBN Co belongs to an elite tier of global service providers who have begun pioneering DOCSIS 3.1 at scale, further demonstrating the potential of HFC networks. Data use globally is increasing and networks must innovate to meet this increasing demand. DOCSIS 3.1 provides a scalable framework that enables networks like NBN Co to deliver better subscriber experiences, reliably and cost-effectively, for decades to come. It can increase network capacity and improve performance today, all while lowering operational costs and providing a path to game-changing 10 Gigabit speeds and services.”

NBN Co plans to deploy HFC to about 2.5m premises of its planned 11.7m total network. It has no plans to offer gigabit services over HFC for the moment but, nevertheless, is progressively swapping out DOCSIS 3.0 capability for 3.1 capability across the network. With both Telstra and eventually Foxtel vacating the network, NBN Co will also have the entire spectrum of HFC to itself within a matter of years.