NBN to take FttC to MDUs

By supplying eight- and 16-port DPUs, NBN will be able to extend its fibre-to-the-curb network to multi-dwelling units, NetComm Wireless has announced.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australian communications equipment company NetComm Wireless has announced an extension of its contract to supply the National Broadband Network (NBN) company with equipment for its fibre-to-the-curb (FttC) network.

Under the extension, NetComm will supply eight- and 16-port variants of its reverse-powered distribution point units (DPUs) in addition to the four-port versions currently being delivered to NBN.

This higher port count DPUs will enable higher-density premises, like apartment blocks, to receive FttC connections, NetComm explained. They also run vectoring combined with G.fast technology for higher speeds.

"Having a higher port count DPU that has reverse-powering functionality is a world-first," NetComm said.

"NetComm sees a lot of traction for this solution in other global markets, with a particular emphasis on the UK and Europe. It's the missing link between running fibre down the street and delivering a gigabit service into the premises."

The initial minimum order commitment order says 10,000 units are to be delivered in late FY19, with NetComm CEO Ken Sheridan confirming that the company is trialling the technology with multiple tier 1 operators in Europe and the United Kingdom.

"We are very pleased to extend our agreement with NBN. More and more operators around the world are looking for a cost-effective way to a deliver a fibre-like experience," Sheridan added.

NetComm last week published its financial results for FY18, recording net profit up 545 percent year on year to AU$8 million while it pointed to 5G and FttC rollouts globally for growth.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were up by 472 percent to AU$20.5 million on revenue of AU$181.7 million, which was up 69 percent.

NetComm made AU$25.2 million in revenue from broadband, and AU$156.5 million from its telecommunications infrastructure equipment and industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) segment.

Read more: Fibre to the curb: How NBN is delivering its new network

According to NetComm, the majority of the AU$66 million revenue being generated by supplying network connection devices (NCDs) for the NBN FttC rollout will be mainly delivered during FY19 following delays caused by pit remediation.

"The group anticipates that NCDs will deliver further substantial value to the group during the FY19 as the pace of the rollout increases, although it is expected sales of the four-port DPU unit launched in June 2017 will be lower given the delays announced by NBN as they embark upon pit remediation for asbestos and backhaul infrastructure that support the FttC program," the company revealed.

NetComm had in December unveiled the world's first FttC NCD, which incorporates a G.fast and VDSL modem and is able to monitor and report diagnostics on the performance of the line going into a premises. It is used in conjunction with NetComm's FttC DPUs, and includes a reverse-power feed allowing the DPU to be powered via the customer's premises.

NetComm CTO Steve Collins had previously told ZDNet that its NCD brings FttC solutions up to the same point that FttP is at, in that it powers the DPU and provides the modem to the end user, with retail service providers then simply connecting them.

NBN had signed NetComm Wireless to supply its FttC one-port and four-port DPUs and related services in November 2016, initially using old VDSL technology. The contract was as a result of NetComm directly tendering for FttC after NBN specifically asked it to take part, Collins told ZDNet last year.

NetComm said it will also capitalise on the first use case of 5G deployments being fixed-wireless, as well as on the 5G ban of Chinese networking vendors including Huawei in Australia following political instability last week.

The total addressable 5G fixed-wireless market is worth more than $12 billion, NetComm said in its financial results presentation, with the key markets being North America and Western Europe.

The company is also delivering its fixed-wireless technology to AT&T in the United States, to NBN, and to Bell in Canada; and is working on IIoT technology.

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