Tuesday, 23 January 2018 10:51

Is NBN Co planning to drop HFC from rollout plans? Featured

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Is the NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, planning to drop HFC altogether from its multi-technology mix that it adopted after 2013 for the network?

At least two suburbs in Melbourne have been switched from HFC to other technologies in the wake of the company's announcement in November that technical issues were bedevilling the use of the technology.

At that time, NBN Co announced that houses and businesses slated to receive the NBN over HFC would have to wait between six and nine months longer for connections.

Under the revised rollout plan, put in place after the Coalition Government came to power in 2013, the NBN Co planned to use both the Telstra and Optus HFC networks as a means of delivering the NBN, in order speed up the rollout.

The Optus HFC network was later found to be in an unusable state and its use was discontinued. The Telstra HFC network was used until the cessation of connections in December 2017.

A sharp-eyed reader drew iTWire's attention to the fact that the suburb of Aspendale, which had been set down to receive the NBN over HFC in 2018, had now been shifted to fibre-to-the-node technology and due for connections in 2019.

And the suburb of Aspendale Gardens, which was also down to receive the NBN over HFC this year, was now down to receive fibre-to-the-curb technology.

The reader raised the question "Is NBN quietly dropping HFC from the rollout? Reminds me of the one year of denial on Optus HFC until they admitted it after an election, seemingly hiding it until it wouldn't impact it."

iTWire contacted NBN Co on Saturday and asked whether HFC was being progressively dropped and requested a reply by close of business that day, in view of the fact that most companies have a media unit that works round the clock seven days a week.

NBN Co responded on Monday, apologising for not getting back by the time specified, but offering no information, apart from a link to the company's media page, and claiming that the information sought could be obtained on that page.

Had this been the case, then the initial query would never have been made.

So iTWire again asked NBN Co for the information sought in the first place:

"It has been noticed that the technology used for delivering the NBN in some suburbs has been changed from HFC to others.

"For instance, the Melbourne suburbs of Aspendale and Aspendale Gardens were due to get NBN through HFC this year. They have been changed to FTTN 2019 for Aspendale and FTTC for Aspendale Gardens.

"Is there a move away from HFC due to the issues that were made public in December last year?

"I recall that there was a year of denials about the use of Optus HFC before the decision not to use it for the rollout was announced.

"So will there be another announcement sometime this year that HFC is being junked altogether?"

To this, NBN Co has not replied.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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