NBN Co HFC test reaches 1Gbps

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NBN Co HFC test reaches 1Gbps

Are you in a Telstra Cable area? The national broadband carrier has some (potentially) good news for you.

By the time NBN Co's takeover of the Telstra HFC network had been approved, the new network operator had already revealed plans to upgrade it to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard.

DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) is the telecommunications standard for data transfer over hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC), and the latest version provides for speeds up to 10Gbps downstream and 1Gbps upstream.

Now NBN Co has now successfully completed lab tests of the technology at 1Gbps, matching the maximum speed currently available over the fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) part of the NBN.

The upstream speed – a bone of contention for businesses that need to upload massive files, for example – was an impressive 100Mbps, which is significantly faster than the 40Mbps on generally available plans, but only one-quarter of the 400Mbps that NBN Co offers on the 1Gbps FTTP plan it announced in 2013.

Still, it’s potentially good news for those living and working in premises that are part of the NBN’s HFC rollout.

“These early tests of DOCSIS 3.1 technology are very exciting,” said NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow. “DOCSIS 3.1 is going to be able to provide fantastic gigabit potential for end users – just as our FTTP network does today.

“The best news is that we will be able to bring gigabit broadband to these premises far more quickly, cost effectively and with less disruption to end users than alternate [sic] technologies in these busy urban areas” of Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

In February this year, Morrow said: “Currently, there are no retail 1Gbps speed plans on offer from the retailers. This is, in our opinion, because there is still minimal consumer demand for these ultra-fast speeds – especially at the prices retailers would have to charge for them.”

NBN Co plans further lab tests of DOCSIS 3.1 in August, followed by field trials in December. Commercial services could start in 2018, but NBN Co's announcement did not specifically mention the upstream speed that would actually be available on this 1Gbps service.

The CableLabs consortium (the body behind the DOCSIS standards) is working on a full-duplex version of DOCSIS 3.1 to provide speeds up to 10Gbps in both directions.

Meanwhile, NBN retail service provider MyRepublic has announced it will start selling 1Gbps plans in July, but only to new customers in Wollongong and at what the company describes as a heavily subsidised price of $129.99 per month.

MyRepublic's existing customers in the area concerned are receiving free upgrades to 1Gbps for one year. The company's price for 100/40Mbps with unlimited data is $59.99 a month on a 12-month contract.

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