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NBN Co promises gigabit speeds by 2017 with new cable technology

Australia's NBN multi-technology mix rolls ever forward, with NBN Co announcing new technology that will bring gigabit speeds to existing HFC cable networks within two years.


NBN Co is aiming to bring gigabit speeds to Australian internet users by 2017 as part of a rollout of new cable technology that will utilise networks currently owned by Optus and Telstra.

The high-speed cable technology, which goes by the alluring moniker Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 3.1, is capable of providing download speeds of up to 10Gbps, and upstream speeds of up to 1Gbps. NBN Co says Docsis will deliver up to 50 percent more data than cable networks are currently capable of delivering.

At the end of 2014, NBN Co signed deals with Telstra and Optus to acquire hybrid fibre coaxial infrastructure owned by those two telcos in order to deliver the NBN to roughly 3 million premises in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth. These cable networks are currently used to deliver broadband and pay TV.

NBN Co has now announced that it plans to deliver higher speeds over this HFC cable network using Docsis 3.1.

Explaining the technology, which is expected to undergo field trials in the United States later this year, NBN Co Chief Technology Officer Dennis Steiger said it would offer speeds up to 100 times faster than what HFC currently provides, similar to Fibre to the Premises speeds.

"NBN will utilise a network that is already deployed across millions of homes and businesses in Australia," he said. "By re-architecting the ratio of homes to a node and the use of the latest technology underpinning Docsis 3.1, Australia's HFC network will become one of the most state-of-the-art technologies used to deploy broadband services.

"It's the same philosophy that's driving our entire multi-technology rollout. All the technologies we're using have an upgrade path to deliver higher speeds and greater capacity."

After a review of the NBN rollout in Australia, the Federal Government last year announced that it would be moving to a multi-technology mix to deliver the network. The so-called MTM incorporates existing Fibre to the Premises rollouts as well as Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement infrastructure, plus fixed wireless, satellite and HFC.