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Wednesday, 16 September 2009 11:21

NBN should not have RF channel for cable TV, says Ericsson

iTWire understands that part of the capacity on the NBN will be set aside to bandwidth to carry cable TV services, as presently delivered over the Optus and Telstra HFC networks. This is not a good idea, according to Ericsson.

An RF channel on an passive optical network is created by dedicating a portion of the available bandwidth for a broadcast channel (ie each user receives the same data (TV programme) just as with an HFC cable TV networks). NBN Co has made no official statement on it plans for an RF downstream channel but iTWire understands industry has been told that this is the current thinking.

The Verizon FTTH rollout in the US uses this technology, and according to Ericsson Australia's broadband strategy manager, Colin Goodwin there were good reasons for this at the time the decision was taken, but these do not apply in Australia

'Verizon put in an RF channel because at the time they started IPTV was in its infancy, but even Verizon will admit they expect to do IPTV in the future," he told a press briefing on NBN issues last month." Verizon, he added was also seeking to compete with well established incumbent cable TV operators.

But according to Goodwin, dedicating part of the fibre capacity to RF has considerable disadvantages. "Is OK if you are providing a single operator cable TV service like Verizon, but it does not support user choice, it needs extra exchange equipment, and extra customer premises equipment, which increases the cost. It requires a novel way of cutting the optical fibre; it reduce the reach of the fibre network and it limits the ability to upgrade to new types of fibre technology that use more frequencies, for example wavelength division passive optical networking. But most importantly it limits user choice."

In contrast to Verizon, Goodwin said European and Asian FTTH networks were largely being deployed only with an analogue telephone and ethernet interfaces on the CPE: all video traffic was carried via IP packets as an IPTV service and delivered out of the fibre network's; optical line termination via an ethernet port.

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