NBN Co already planning HFC, FttN products

NBN Co is planning to consult with the industry on plans for how to integrate products for fibre to the node and HFC services into the NBN, despite the cost-benefit analysis for the NBN is still being conducted.

NBN Co is in the process of planning to consult with the industry on creating a set of products for fibre to the node services and hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) network services, despite the Coalition government waiting on the findings of a cost-benefit analysis before embarking on an overhaul of the NBN rollout.

The revelation came in a new product roadmap (PDF) published by NBN Co on its website this month. After completing a trial of fibre to the building this month, NBN Co is planning to start trialing fibre to the node products from the beginning of May through to the end of October. NBN Co is first planning to consult with industry this month before moving ahead with the trial.

According to the document, the FttN trial will see DSLAMs deployed to 20 nodes in residential neighbourhoods, connecting up to 400 premises to VDSL2 services. The fibre to the building trial connects 10 multi-dwelling units each between 80 to 100 premises.

In June, NBN Co is planning to consult with industry on a proposal for an NBN Co Ethernet bitstream service over the HFC networks currently owned by Telstra and Optus. No trial of this technology has yet been planned. NBN Co is currently renegotiating with both Telstra and Optus for access to these networks.

The plans come despite the Coalition government indicating that it would not revise the NBN rollout until the Michael Vertigan panel conducting a cost-benefit analysis into broadband had been completed. The proposal indicates that NBN Co is already moving ahead with plans to implement its multi-technology mix model that had been outlined as the preferred path forward in NBN Co's strategic review last year.

NBN Co said its product roadmap is released quarterly, and is designed to be a guide for access seekers on what NBN Co may be planning for the upcoming quarter.

A Labor-Greens majority parliamentary committee has recommended that NBN Co redo its strategic review , and reassess whether a full fibre to the premises rollout would be better than the multi-technology mix model favoured by NBN Co in light of savings that the committee said NBN Co had overlooked in assessing the cost of the fibre rollout.

As new NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow this week commences working full time for the company, the product roadmap today also revealed that Morrow's pet topic, while still at Vodafone, will also get a trial at NBN Co, with the company in May planning to trial connecting fibre to mobile towers for use by Australia's telecommunications providers as backhaul.

NBN Co said the trial aims to provide information on the loading and traffic demands of mobile networks, and it will provide a guide on whether the NBN is suitably for carrying mobile network traffic.