NBN Co is putting a temporary freeze on all new HFC orders and delaying go-live for some of the HFC network as it tries to improve the quality of service for all end users.
The company said it would “temporarily pause all new orders" over its HFC access network.
“This pause will be in effect until incremental field work is undertaken to raise the quality of service for end users,” NBN Co said in a statement.
It also said there would be a “delay of the current rollout timing of new HFC areas" while it undertakes this rectification work, both in the existing footprint and areas not previously declared ready for service.
The delays are currently anticipated to be between six and nine months.
However, NBN Co claimed the halt would not impact its ability to meet its target of delivering the NBN by 2020.
The move is likely to be a source of significant embarrassment for both NBN Co and the government, confirming what many HFC users had been reporting for months.
NBN Co said it would perform "advanced network testing and remediation where needed, wholesale connector replacements, signal amplification calibration, and lead-in work as required".
Its initial focus is on improving services for the 370,000 users already connected to HFC. The company then plans to work through a backlog of orders and activations it has to delay to allow that work to happen, before resuming with the remaining portion of the HFC rollout.
The company said it would amend information on its rollout map to provide better data on how the freeze and delays will impact those who were anticipating HFC connections.
NBN Co said it was also working with Telstra and Optus to make sure “those who may wait a bit longer to switch to services on the NBN access network will still have access to the same services that they have today".
The HFC network currently accounts for the largest number of unserviceable connections of any fixed-line technology in the NBN rollout.
NBN Co has been re-architecting parts of the HFC network it had purchased from Telstra and Optus to prevent over-subscription on existing HFC nodes.
Getting HFC right is critical for NBN Co: it is betting on its HFC network to bring in the highest amount of revenue per user of any residential access technology in its portfolio, outstripping even full fibre connections.
It is also important for those that sold their HFC networks to NBN Co.
Telstra said in a financial filing that the delay will have a flow-on effect on "a proportion of the payments to Telstra from NBN Co into future periods".
The telco also said it would discuss ADSL disconnection obligations with the ACCC and NBN Co "to minimise customer impact during this period".