Optus upgrades HFC too

Optus has finally put an end to speculation on whether it will follow Telstra's upgrade of its hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network, announcing that it has already started work on its cable in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Optus has finally put an end to speculation on whether it will follow Telstra's hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network upgrade, announcing that it has already started work on its cable in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

"Optus confirmed today that it is already upgrading its HFC network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to [standard] DoCSIS 3. Further details will be announced shortly. Optus is committed to offering innovative plans and pricing across all its competitive networks," the company said yesterday in a statement.

Upgrading to the DoCSIS 3.0 specification significantly increases transmission speeds — 100Mbps in the case of Telstra, which this week announced the completion of its $300 million DoCSIS 3.0 upgrade to one million homes. Optus did not say which speeds it hoped to achieve.

When Telstra's upgrade was first announced last year, Optus would not be drawn on whether it intended to follow suit.

"Upgrading HFC is not the answer to Australia's broadband future as it will only ever benefit selected areas in major capital cities and not 98 per cent of the population," a spokesperson for the company told ZDNet.com.au at the time in a statement. "The fact is, only a very low percentage of customers at best will ever experience the claimed speeds of 100Mbps."

The speeds on HFC would vary, Optus had said, since the network was shared, meaning that the more users on the HFC network the slower the speeds. Optus also believed that the upgrade, which would require each home to be individually wired up to the HFC, would be an inconvenient process for most customers, and potentially be an expensive one if they wanted to achieve the higher speeds, since they would have to upgrade their modems.

However, the telco seems to have overcome its concerns about laying out money to achieve faster speeds, even going further than Telstra by upgrading all cities where it has a presence. Optus' HFC network is available to around 1.4 million homes in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.