NBN now reaches 6 million premises

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NBN now reaches 6 million premises

NBN Co has connected another million premises in less than three months.

Time flies – was it really almost three months ago that NBN Co announced it had connected five million premises?

At the time, the company said it was connecting a million premises per quarter. That pace has quickened slightly to 1.1 million per quarter, and six million premises are now ‘Ready for Service’. More than half of those are connected using fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) or hybrid fibre co-axial (HFC) technology.

The FTTN rollout has been particularly controversial for a number of reasons, including the existence in some areas of badly-aged copper cables (those between the node and the premises) that are not being remediated in the short term, resulting in substandard speeds.

The HFC network is that part of the NBN that was previously used for Telstra Cable and Foxtel, but questions have also been raised – and to the best of our knowledge left unanswered by NBN Co – about whether the network is being upgraded sufficiently to cope with the influx of users.

There’s some hope, however. NBN Co signalled in June the potential upgrade of the HFC network to DOCSIS 3.1 sometime in 2018.

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

The company's Integrated Product Roadmap as at July 2017 schedules the replacement of DOCSIS 3.0 modems with DOCSIS 3.1 devices between October 2017 and March 2018.

The proportion of active connections has risen slightly from 44 percent to 45 percent. That doesn't mean that less than half of households and businesses don't want an NBN service, only that they're not rushing into it. In at least some areas, retail service providers appear to be taking a very low-key approach, so it seems likely that many people don't know their premises are ready for service.

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