NBN Co scopes HFC product options, nodes

NBN Co is looking to retain the existing speed tiers from fibre for customers that will be connected to the NBN via the existing HFC cable networks using nodes to reduce contention in the cable networks.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

NBN Co is asking retail service providers on whether existing speed tiers and pricing constructs for the National Broadband Network (NBN) should be retained on the Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) cable networks that will be included as part of the multi-technology mix model.

According to documentation obtained by ZDNet, in the latest round of consultation with industry, NBN Co has approached service providers and asked whether the traffic classes from 12Mbps down, 1Mbps up, right up to 100Mbps down, 40Mbps up should be retained on the HFC networks that will be included in the NBN once re-negotiations with Telstra and Optus are completed.


NBN Co would offer the same layer 2 wholesale service on the HFC networks out to 30 percent of the population as is offered to users on the fibre network, under the proposal.

NBN Co is committing to offering the high-end speed tiers on the HFC network, despite concern that the networks may not be currently able to provide such speeds, particularly for uploads.

NBN Co's head of product development and sales John Simon told ZDNet that as part of NBN Co taking over the HFC networks, NBN Co would upgrade the HFC networks across the board, install lead-ins for premises that are passed by the HFC footprint and can't connect to services, reconfigure the set up on the cable as Telstra and Optus customers transition off the cables and NBN customers move onto the cables.

To reduce contention on the HFC networks, Simon also flagged that NBN Co would install nodes in the networks, similar to the planned fibre-to-the-node roll-out currently being trialled by the company. The detail of the number of customers per node would need to be worked out at a later point, Simon said.

He said that NBN Co is working to develop its proposal for HFC products now in parallel with renegotiations with Telstra and Optus for access to the networks to ensure the company is ready to go when the networks become available to NBN Co.

The discussion paper released to retail service providers follows a similar document earlier this year outlining plans to keep similar speed tiers on the fibre-to-the-node network. NBN Co at the time was criticised for suggesting NBN Co would only guarantee "up to" the speeds on the top two tiers.

NBN Co soon backed away from this proposal, with CEO Bill Morrow stating last month that NBN Co was exploring the best way of qualifying that the speed achieved on the fibre to the node product might not reach 100Mbps.

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