Australia - National Broadband Network - HFC Networks


The roll out of the National Broadband Network under the December 2013 strategic review has placed a greater emphasis on existing hybrid fibre coax plant being utilised within the national broadband infrastructure. The HFC networks of Telstra and Optus’s are being deployed as part of the NBN, so reducing the overall cost of the project’s rollout. However, nbn’s Corporate Plan for 2017 envisages greater use of FttN in HFC areas, given the mounting cost of connecting premises with HFC.

Before this incorporation within the NBN, the cable networks of Telstra and Optus had both been upgraded with DOCSIS3.0 technology, with many nodes capable of delivering data at up to 100Mb/s while the remainder can deliver data at up to 30Mb/s. In international terms, the capabilities of HFC in Australia remain comparatively low, and there is considerable scope for improvement. In Europe, HFC networks commonly deliver data at up to 360MB/s, while some networks (such as Vodafone’s in Germany) deliver data at 400Mb/s.

Nbn completed trials of its HFC service in Redcliffe, Queensland, in February 2016 and planned to launch commercial services later in the year, with some 3.6 million premises expected to be serviced by the network. Nbn is also expected to operate services based on the DOCSIS3.1 during 2017, capable of delivering data at 1Gb/s. With the NBN being a hot-topic in the run up to the federal election, the opposition Labor party has declared that it would maintain the current plan of using HFC with DOCSIS3.1 in major metro areas.

In markets across Europe as well as in North America the key driver for deploying DOCSIS3.1 is the wave of new broadband and video competitors. Telcos as well as new operators such as Google Fiber are deploying 1Gb/s services based on FttH, and this is prompting cablecos to accelerate their DOCSIS3.1 deployment plans.

This report provides an overview of HFC networks, including the status of network upgrades as well as data on subscribers and market statistics.

Key developments:

Nbn to step up FttN connections in HFC areas; CableLabs certification of vendor equipment for DOCSIS3.1 supporting nbn’s plans for DOCSIS3.1 roll out from 2017; ACCC considers access regulation on superfast broadband services; Optus HFC network could be unfit for purpose for incorporation within the NBN; HFC subscriber growth continues; NBN transition developments, fibre broadband subscriber base shows rapid rise; report update includes ABS data to December 2015, analysis of the NBN strategic review, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

AUSTAR, Optus, Foxtel, Telstra, Neighbourhood Cable, TransACT.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Technology
    • 2.1 Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC)
    • 2.2 The DOCSIS standard
    • 2.3 The next development for DOCSIS
    • 2.4 Can Cable Networks Deliver a Gigabit?
    • 2.5 NBN Indicates Upgrade path for HFC
    • 2.6 HFC DOCSIS vs. fibre
  • 3. NBN - HFC Program
    • 3.1 Statistical overview
    • 3.2 Overall plan
    • 3.3 FttN and FTTB as infills for HFC
    • 3.4 Arris appointed supplier of the network
    • 3.5 Roll out plan
    • 3.6 HFC pilot in Queensland
  • 4. Market statistics and estimates
  • 5. Telstra
    • 5.1 Background information
    • 5.2 Network upgrades
  • 6. Optus
    • 6.1 Overview
  • 7. IiNet/TransACT
  • 8. BES/e-wire
  • 9. hfc NETWORK dARWIN
  • 10. Industry analysis
    • 10.1 DOCSIS3.0 -v- DOCSIS3.1
    • 10.2 Do we need infrastructure-based competition?
    • 10.3 Moving on from the HFC of the past
    • 10.4 HFC incorporated in multi-technology NBN
    • 10.5 From HFC to Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
    • 10.6 Open access policy
    • 10.7 Superfast Broadband Access Service (SBAS)
  • 11. Related reports
  • Table 1 – HFC Roll out 2016-2018
  • Table 2 - Weighted average cost per HFC premise (rounded nearest $100)
  • Table 3 – NBN capital expenditure – FY2015-2016
  • Table 4 – HFC cable broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 5 – Cable broadband subscribers by major operator and annual change – 2002 - 2015
  • Table 6 – Cable subscribers versus other broadband technologies – 2009 - 2015
  • Table 7 – Optus financial data – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 8 – Optus financial data by sector – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 9 – Optus on-net broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2016
  • Chart 1 – Overview of cable broadband subscribers by operator and annual change – 2002 - 2015
  • Chart 2 – Overview of cable subscribers versus other broadband technologies – 2009 – 2015
  • Chart 3 – Optus financial data – 2011 – 2016

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Number of pages 17

Status Current

Last updated 6 Sep 2016
Update History

Analyst: Henry Lancaster

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Paul owns and manages the world's largest online Telecommunications Consultancy and is very active on the international telecommunication scene. A very hard worker who is extremely well informed and well connected with all tiers of the ICT industry. He is the force behind the NBN project implementation and a catalyst for the progress of the Digital Economy between the Industry and the powers that be, in the government

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