NBN Co board member and Internode co-founder Simon Hackett has shed some light on the Coalition's plans for repurposing the hybrid coaxial-fibre (HFC) networks originally devised and deployed in the 90s for television transmissions.
NBN Co's original plan was to overbuild areas with a total of 3.4 million premises that are either served by HFC from Telstra and Optus, or could be.
In 2011, Optus announced it had reached an agreement with NBN Co to start dismantling its HFC network and migrating customers to the FTTP NBN, in a deal worth $800 million. Telstra and NBN Co reached a similar deal.
But the Coalition strategic review, released last week, changes this.
It proposed the HFC networks be retained and expanded for inclusion in the NBN, as the government sees this as the fastest option to provide high-speed broadband.
Over the weekend, Hackett said major investment will be made into the Telstra and Optus HFC networks to upgrade them.
"For standalone premises in the rollout areas concerned this includes repairing all existing lead-ins that need it, building all the missing lead-ins that were never done in the original HFC rollout, and expanding the HFC rollout into all the ‘black spots’ inside those overall rollouts that were left behind when the original rollouts ceased," he explained.
"The deployment also includes a laundry list of network upgrades and capacity expansions to deliver high performance, low contention-ratio 100 megabit downstream rates," Hackett wrote.
High upstream rates of 30 to 40 megabits per second will be possible after the upgrades are made to the HFC network, substantially faster than the one to two megabits per second customers enjoy today.
Ultimately, Hackett expects HFC networks to deliver one gigabit per second data rates through DOCSIS 3.1 standard upgrades, as published this year.
Hackett expects NBN Co will own the HFC networks, but doesn't say how much Telstra and Optus should receive in compensation.
Ultimately, however, Hackett remains a fibre fan despite having an unused HFC termination unit in his home.
"I haven’t written this because I’ve stopped believing that the best ultimate answer wherever possible is Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) – because it still is," Hackett wrote.