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NBN Co enables DOCSIS 3.1 on HFC network

Next-generation cable broadband technology to double downstream capacity on the NBN Co Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network.

With the full relaunch of activations on our HFC network now well underway, there is no better time for us to start turning on new DOCSIS 3.1 technology to support this ramp up of activations on the network.

As we activate DOCSIS 3.1 out across the HFC network in the next couple of years, we expect to be able to double the amount of download capacity on NBN Co's HFC network.

Moving forward, NBN Co expects to release around 100,000 HFC premises to retailers per month through to next April, and we will then see thousands of those new homes and businesses activated.

In generating extra capacity and an improvement to the network’s performance, DOCSIS 3.1 will help us deliver a great online experience. But how does it do this? It uses spectrum far more efficiently compared to current DOCSIS 3.0 technology, and it also enables NBN Co to use new spectrum – these two factors combined help to approximately double the available network capacity.

Why DOCSIS 3.1

Introducing DOCSIS 3.1 onto our HFC network gives us a quick and cost-effective way to bring significant new capacity with far less disruption to homes and businesses. Until the arrival of DOCSIS 3.1, the only way to deliver new capacity onto the HFC network was to conduct a physical or virtual node split. We had to install a new optical node onto the network to reduce the number of premises being served by a node that was close to capacity.

What’s more, it means we can offer people a more consistent user experience on the HFC network and provide a pathway to the ultra-fast speeds that are beyond our current 100Mbps top speeds. This is a really important development for NBN Co's HFC network because, on the evidence of the first 400,000 premises that have activated services, we have found that these are the most data hungry yet across any access technology.

Since we launched our new pricing construct last December we have seen homes and businesses flock to our 50Mbps plan. Homes and businesses on plans of between 50Mbps and 100Mbps have increased from 15 per cent in June 2017 to close to 50 per cent now.

CableLabs on DOCSIS 3.1

Ralph Brown, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Research and Development at CableLabs, shares how DOCSIS 3.1 is progressing in the United States (and beyond) since launching:

Getting DOCSIS 3.1

The best thing about all of this is that most homes and businesses in HFC areas don’t have to do a single thing to access DOCSIS 3.1 technology!

Most of the Network Termination Devices (NTD) that are already operating inside premises are already DOCSIS 3.1 capable, so once we activate the technology in your area then you will immediately be able to access it. There are still a small number of premises on our HFC network with DOCSIS 3.0 NTDs but we plan to replace these with DOCSIS 3.1 NTDs in the coming months.

As well as increasing network capacity, DOCSIS 3.1 also delivers us a more intelligent network by using new Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) and advanced Forward Error Correction (FEC) technology. Using OFDM and FEC alongside better network analytics will help NBN Co to better diagnose network issues that may impact on end-user experience.

When we combine the introduction of DOCSIS 3.1, the increased spectrum usage with the optimisation work that is being carried out on our entire HFC network before it is declared Ready to Connect, then it is clear that homes and businesses should get a great experience when they sign up for a service on NBN Co's HFC network.

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