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NBN HFC field test hits 994Mbps download speeds

DOCSIS 3.1 test on suburban line in Victoria approaching 1Gbps mark.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The National Broadband Network (NBN) has conducted a DOCSIS 3.1 test on a customer's hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) line at Templestowe, Victoria that has clocked in at 994Mbps.

The trial made use of more spectrum than most HFC lines do currently, thanks to a better bandpass filter that the company responsible for deploying NBN across Australia will deploy. Otherwise, the node used still had Foxtel and Telstra using spectrum for their pay TV and broadband products, respectively.

NBN said the premises used was a "regular private residence" with a standard connection, although it conducted the test on the network layer it controls -- layer 2 -- thus bypassing any ISP systems.

"This is an important day for NBN. It shows how a specific technology -- HFC -- is evolving to meet customer demand for greater capacity from their broadband connection over time," NBN chief technology officer Ray Owen said.

"As we work to complete our network rollout, we're constantly looking at what's over the horizon for all of our technology assets and how we can evolve our network as demand grows."

A recent study of NBN modems conducted for the Australian Communications and Media Authority showed users were better off relying on 5GHz Wi-Fi only.


The test was definitely not on this line.

(Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet)

"The 2.4GHz band is often promoted as a better choice for longer range communications," Enex, the company conducting the tests, said. "However, Enex's findings did not support this. Operating in the 5GHz band appears to be the best choice for consumers under all circumstances."

"The 5GHz band also has the benefit of more recent technology developments which includes features such as directional beamforming and MU/MIMO (with up to eight antennas and multiuser sub-channels)."

Enex found a signal strength difference of over 20dB between the two Wi-Fi bands in some devices, with 5GHz having the stronger signal, which it said could be the reason for 5GHz performing so well.

At the start of the month, NBN disclosed it had narrowly beat its own targets for 2019.

For premises ready to connect to the network, NBN reported 9.93 million against a target of 9.7 million. NBN also reported that 5.52 million premises have been activated on the network compared to its target of 5.5 million.

The company had previously planned to have 11 million premises ready to connect, and 6.9 million premises activated before revising its targets down.

In recent months, NBN has been returning premises caught up in its HFC pause back to the network, vastly reducing the number of premises labelled as service class zero.

Last month, as part of a consultation process over its wholesale pricing, NBN said it was mulling the introduction of 100/20Mbps plans, and that most residential customers do not need 40Mbps of upload speed.

"The new speed tier recognises that most residential customers download far more than they upload and a new product that prioritises download with an associated new wholesale bundle discount may help them to avoid paying a price premium for relatively high upload speeds that most customers do not use or require," the company said at the time.

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