NBN Co to trial HFC in Queensland and New South Wales

NBN Co has named four suburbs in Queensland and New South Wales that will be the first to trial the company's hybrid fibre-coaxial networks.

Four suburbs in Queensland and New South Wales will be the first to be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) through the company's takeover of the Optus and Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks.

The four suburbs are Emu Plains in Western Sydney, and Redcliffe, Slacks Creek, and Merrimac in Queensland.

The suburbs will be a pilot trial of NBN Co moving customers onto the NBN, and building out the HFC upgrades using the legacy HFC networks that NBN Co will gradually acquire from Telstra and Optus under revised agreements signed in December last year.

"These construction trials are an important step in our goal towards ensuring all Australians are able to receive fast broadband as soon as possible," NBN Co's chief technology officer, Dennis Steiger, said in a statement.

"The aim of this construction trial is to deliver valuable insights into how to deploy that upgraded HFC network at scale."

The construction will commence around May this year, ahead of the commercial launch of HFC products and a large-scale rollout in March 2016.

The plans were announced in Queensland today by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

NBN Co in February signed an AU$400 million deal with Arris to provide the network equipment required to upgrade the HFC networks.

Optus and Telstra will be working with NBN Co to prepare the networks. In Redcliffe, the area is entirely an Optus network, where NBN Co will be looking to connect around 11,000 premises. Approximately half of those premises are covered by the Optus network now, meaning NBN Co will need to install lead-ins for the premises that are covered but cannot connect to the network today.

It is understood that NBN Co will initially only be looking to install lead-ins for 3,000 premises across the four suburbs.

For apartments and townhouses in the area, where fibre to the basement may be a cheaper option than HFC, NBN Co will trial a variety of technologies to determine the most cost effective for each area.

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