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​NBN kicks Optus HFC network to the kerb

NBN farewells HFC in favour of FTTdp, and Australia is officially out of acronyms.


Instead of HFC, you'll get fibre...all the way to your kerb.


You know about fibre to the premises (FTTP) and fibre to the node (FTTN) -- now meet Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp).

The great keeper of acronyms, NBN, has announced that its newest technology is set to reach roughly 700,000 premises across Australia. Why? Because NBN has parted ways with Optus, announcing that it will no longer be using the telco's Hybrid Fibre Coaxial network as part of its "multi-technology mix" broadband plan.

Think of FTTdp as a cross between fibre to the premises and fibre to the node. Rather than running fibre to a big cabinet at the end of your street, FTTdp takes it all the way to your driveway. A "distribution point" then links the fibre to the copper running into your home.

NBN is calling it "fibre-to-the-curb." But I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I ditch the Australian-English spelling of "kerb."

NBN announced the use of Optus HFC in December last year, saying it would take over ownership of Optus' legacy network, as well as Telstra's existing copper network. The plan was part of a bid to implement the NBN quicker and cheaper by using existing infrastructure.

NBN then launched commercial HFC services using the network in June in Redcliffe, Queensland, as part of a local pilot.

But this is as much Optus cable as NBN is willing to use for now, and it seems the company behind our national broadband network has buyer's remorse. NBN now says it will forego its right to take over the Optus network in light of what it calls "the up-to-date learnings" it has on the Optus network -- essentially the difficulty it will have in getting the HFC ready for service.

"HFC remains a highly valued part of our MTM [multi-technology mix] deployment, however in balancing the requirements to convert Optus's current network architecture and design to be NBN-ready, and the opportunity to introduce FTTdp, makes the new technology compelling in these selected areas," said NBN Chief Network Engineering Officer, Peter Ryan.

NBN hasn't ditched HFC altogether, and Ryan says the company is "very encouraged" by the results it's had on the parts of the NBN that have already been launched on HFC.

NBN also says the HFC network will remain the property of Singtel Optus Group until it exercises its option to transfer ownership of "relevant parts" of the network.

So HFC might be used in future, but for now, curb your enthusiasm.