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NBN expands FttDP network to 1m premises; trials 10Gbps fibre with Nokia

NBN will expand its FttDP network to 1 million premises across the country, also announcing that speeds of around 10Gbps and all the way up to 102Gbps have been attained with Nokia during a trial of NG-PON2.

The company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced that it will be expanding its fibre-to-the-distribution-point/curb (FttDP/FttC) network to an additional 300,000 premises across the country, taking its total to around 1 million.

"As things stand, we're deploying FttC to 700,000 premises across the country, with around 400,000 of these being in the former Optus HFC footprint," NBN chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan announced on Tuesday morning.

"With work well under way on bringing these premises into the network fold ... we've decided to extend our FttC footprint to 1 million premises."

NBN had announced in September last year that it would be replacing the Optus HFC footprint with its FttDP network, with up to 700,000 premises to be covered by the new network technology, after a leaked NBN draft in November 2015 revealed that Optus' HFC network is "not fully fit for purpose".

FttDP will also be deployed in some areas that were previously slated to receive fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network connections.

NBN in February revealed the areas that will be the first to receive FttDP; included in these areas are Sydney suburbs Alexandria, Botany, Caringbah South, Cronulla, Denham Court, Erskineville, Gladesville, Horningsea Park, Hunters Hill, Lugano, Mona Vale, Peakhurst, Revesby, Tennyson Point, Woolooware, and Woronora Heights.

Melbourne suburbs Burnside, Brooklyn, Coburg North, Cremorne, Richmond Carolyn Springs, Derrimut, Frankston, Williamstown, and parts of Collingwood will also receive FttDP/C network technology, with Coburg North to be the first area built up thanks to hosting trials during the second half of 2017.

NBN said it expects to launch commercial FttDP/C services in the first half of 2018, with 100,000 premises able to connect at that point.

It then signed new fibre construction contracts with Fulton Hogan, Downer, and Service Stream in December covering around 525,000 premises throughout Sydney and Melbourne, "most" of which will be connected by FttDP.

Ryan also announced on Tuesday that NBN has been testing NG-PON2 technology with Nokia across its fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network, attaining speeds of 10Gbps.

"We have been trialling new NG-PON2 technology that leverages improvements in size and cost of high speed optics to add more wavelengths to the same street fibre already deployed in the NBN," Ryan added.

During a series of trials, which took place in Nokia's Melbourne lab, NBN achieved speeds of 10Gbps using Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexing Gigabit Passive Optical Network (TWDM-PON, or NG-PON2) supporting between four to eight wavelengths on a single fibre.

NBN and Nokia also attained peak aggregate speeds of 102Gps using Universal NG-PON, which combined sppeds of 2.5Gbps on NBN's current GPON technology; 10Gbps symmetrical speeds on XGS-PON; and 40Gbps symmetrical speeds on NG-PON2.

Current FttP user speeds top out at 1Gbps, with NBN saying the trial is important for ensuring that its network technologies are able to reach high speeds using upgrade paths.

According to NBN, NG-PON2 could also be used across its fibre-to-the-node (FttN) and FttDP networks in future, via the use of G.fast and XG-FAST, both of which have also been tested with Nokia.

"The FttP product is already on the path toward multi-Gigabit speeds and beyond, and FttC and FttB also have an evolution to Gigabit speeds via technologies like G.fast and XG.FAST," Ryan said on Tuesday.

"With HFC we are already looking around the evolution bend on the road to gigabit speeds via DOCSIS 3.1, and on fixed-wireless we recently announced a new 100/40Mbps product and we have the potential to offer even higher speeds."

ZDNet revealed in October that the FttDP network will be launched with old VDSL technology instead of G.fast technology, however, despite G.fast being ready in 2017 and FttDP not launching until 2018.

NBN last month announced that its new 100Mbps fixed-wireless product, enabling wholesale speeds of 100Mbps download and 40Mbps upload, would be ready in a year, with plans to launch DOCSIS 3.1 across HFC in the second half of 2017.