NBN Will Roll 'Fibre To The Curb' To 700,000 Homes Around Australia, Abandoning Optus Cable

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The rollout of Australia's NBN will abandon almost all of Optus's HFC cable network that it paid $800 million for back in 2011, with up to 700,000 homes around the country instead being connected to the NBN through fibre to the distribution point -- a new technology that brings many of the advantages of fibre to the premises to a fibre to the node-style construction method.

FTTdp, also called 'fibre to the curb' by NBN, will be rolled out within the Optus HFC network footprint, and will replace the hybrid fibre-coaxial cables that were originally planned to continue in service as part of the incumbent Liberal government's multi-technology mix NBN. One area of the Optus network, Redcliffe in Queensland, is already connected to the NBN via HFC and will stay that way but the rest of the footprint will be switched to FTTdp.

NBN paid $800 million to Optus in 2011 to eventually decommission the telco's HFC network and transfer its customers to the NBN, with a revised agreement in 2014 giving NBN the option to use HFC as it chose -- which formed a significant part of the Liberal government's apparently significantly cheaper MTM rollout. That agreement remains in place, but the network will instead be eventually decommissioned as originally planned. A 2015 leaked document slammed the quality of Optus' network and may have contributed to this decision.

Fibre to the distribution point sees optical fibre rolled out 'to the curb' of individual homes in a street or suburb, much closer than the end-of-street sites of many fibre to the node installations; this allows it to achieve higher theoretical download and upload speeds than FTTN. It also allows a fully fibre to the premises rollout to individual homes to be made available after the initial installation at a much lower cost.

NBN is still using Telstra's cable network to connect customers to the NBN using HFC technology, though -- and that progressive switchover will continue with 900,000 services expected to be available before the middle of 2017. A total of up to 3.2 million homes will be connected to the NBN through HFC according to the national broadband network company's updated corporate plan from August of this year.

From NBN's chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan: "We have tested FTTdp over the last year and we're confident we can now deploy the technology in areas where it makes better sense from a customer experience, deployment efficiency and cost perspective. This includes premises in the FTTN footprint that have too high a cost per premises (CPP) and premises served solely by the legacy Optus HFC footprint that are yet to be made ready for service... nbn has confirmed it will deploy FTTdp in those areas where the use of the Optus HFC network was planned, with the exception of the already launched network in Redcliffe, Queensland.

"The move to FTTdp was outlined in the 2017 Corporate Plan where we stated nbn's overall HFC footprint would be between 2.5 and 3.2 million by 2020, with more premises being served by FTTN, Fibre-to-the-Building and FTTdp. These ranges reflect nbn’s flexible and technology-agnostic approach. HFC remains a highly valued part of our MTM deployment, however in balancing the requirements to convert Optus’s current network architecture and design to be nbn-ready, and the opportunity to introduce FTTdp, makes the new technology compelling in these selected areas.”

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Comments

    I'm an optus hfc customer for nearly 2 years now, started using the Internet well. Even before that in a way 14.4 modems and bbs and I have to say the hfc I am on now has been the best connection I've ever had. As said nearly 2 years and have only ever had 1 3 hour outage. On a 30mb plan and average between 28-33mbs even during peak times. So the nbn not using optus hfc because it's near the end of its life. Doesn't seem to add up for me. Not in my area at least.

      its probably because the HFC cable is hardly been utilized by customers. Cable generally is really fast if no one is using it. The problem is when there is a lot of users it can really slow down as they all share the one bandwidth. The NBN will probably have a lot more users in the future.

        No reason why you need to reinvent the way we do distribution to the home, rather, add more backend capacity on existing hfc and let cable installs run at 100mbps. By the time NBN is in it'll be unaffordable, standard speed and very late.

          The problem there is you would have redig up the street and lay more cable anyway and hfc cable far from the best solution. Why would you dig up street to lay an inferior option? This is why people where saying using existing technology was a bad idea.

          I think you've missed Brucey's point... with HFC you are sharing the same bandwidth amongst ALL users on that loop... the end effect is, if you're expecting peak performance all at the same time, you will be disappointed. It doesn't scale well.

            True, but the same is also true of FTTN GPON loops. So long as there's enough bandwidth on the loop to keep all the subscribers happy, it's not a problem. And with DOCSIS 3.1 providing up to 10Gbps, that should keep people fed for a few years yet. HFC isn't fibre, but it's a whole lot better than copper, despite being shared.

        Where I am the fibre backend to each loop is more than adequate and I know from when it was installed that of the 4 ports on the splitter I am off I am the 4th one all ports are full now. Added with the area I am in is all above ground hfc.

      I had the opposite experience - I had Optus cable for 2 years it worked OK for maybe 8 months then I had regular disconnection issues. 6 months of them trying to troubleshoot came up with nothing. Posts on Whirlpool suggested an upstream power issue (corroded tap?) or some noise at the exchange. Optus never resolved the issue despite many many complaints so needless to say I didn't renew the contract and transferred to a TPG ADSL service which offered adequate speeds. I since had a similar experience with Optus mobile (faulty sim which they refused to acknowledge or replace free of charge despite me working in a phone shop and other sims not exhibiting the same issue in the same phone). As such I've avoided optus since.Currently I'm a Telstra cable customer and have not looked back they exceed the 100mbps I pay for even in peak times and I've only had one short outage in over a year, my only complaint is they run a DNS hijack which can not be turned off at their end. You can however manually opt out by changing your DNS settings however imo this is a poor solution. So short version is you can't win no matter the ISP but my experience with Optus cable certainly reflects NBNco's decision, finally a step in the right direction - was crazy them buying both telcos HFC in the first place but guess can't show favoritism towards telstra can we....

      Sorry Australia, In New Zealand national unlimited gigabit launched yesterday - they're fibre based and for $135 p/mnth you also get an Xbox ONE S.

        Here in Australia the Libs have future-proofed the NBN ie made it sure that we can never all have fibre in the future.

      Optus is well known in metro areas for having a poor performing, high-latency, congested network.

      It's not the case everywhere, but Optus Cable in some areas in Sydney has been in shambles for at least four years now.

      You've just been very lucky. I've been on the Rockdale exchange for three years. First year it was incredible, I hit 100mbps even during peak. Now whenever I come back home from work it's always 4mbps with erratic ping. Can't even watch youtube or Netflix without buffering. Whenever I call to complain they just blame it on congestion, as though that's a valid excuse. I for one welcome Fibre to the curb if it remediates this congestion issue.

    There is no digital divide. Just because these people won the Optus HFC Lotto in the 90's what should everyone else be stuck with FTTN.

    Skymuster is in space and working, just call the nbn finished.

      If everyone signed up to skymuster, it wouldn't cope with the load. That is a worst case scenario access technology, for a very small % of the population where it's not viable to roll out LTE wireless or FTTN/FTTdp

      The later your rollout date, the more likely you are to get FTTdp and all FTTN areas will be upgraded to FTTdp eventually, because at some point this infrastructure is going to have to be sold, and in order to get the best price, it will need to have the best possible (viable) access technology available in each area.

      Last edited 29/09/16 12:28 pm

    We are on NBN and it's not good you can't notice the difference between nbn and broadband. Has a lot of down time so we have no land line. I don't know if it has anything to do with old copper from the house but what ever the reason over rated over priced failure

      I didnt think there was any FTTN installed yet, so that means your either on fibre or wireless. So unless you cheaped out and got a 12/1 connection your speeds should be much much better than anything copper could provide.

        Its a mix. Downloading, not a problem, it regularly hits 10 mb/s and better, but for regular surfing there doesnt seem to be a significant change between ADSL2 and 100/40 NBN.

        Gaming, the pings are 3ms or so, versus 200ms, so a clear improvement, but thats not what people notice.

        If what they are doing is stuff that worked fine before, its not going to be noticeably different for a lot of things, and thats what people are taking away from this. They expect instant pageloads, or instant streaming, when thats not how it works.

        There's definitely FTTN rolled out. In fact, 745k premises can get it as of earlier this week.

    Let me get this right and I know I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but they paid 800 mill for HFC and have decided to write that off. Now instead of running fibre to the node at the end of the street they're going to roll it out the driveway, leaving the distance to the house from said driveway as copper? Ok, I think I need a drink!

      no this is great. FTTDp is the best of both worlds ( being only a few $$$ more than FTTN to install)

      if NBN co use this and it works really well there's a chance NBN will move from FTTN to FTTDp allowing for easier upgrade paths in the future and excessive node maintenance.

      Not quite, they paid Optus to take ownership of their HFC network. The original plan was to replace it all with Fibre, but the Liberal plan changed this to instead use the HFC network rather than dismantle it. However after reviewing the state of the Optus Network and how much remediation work would be required nbn has decided to replace it all with FTTdp. Which to be fair is probably the right choice, if you have to do a bunch of work fixing it up and rolling out new cables you should probably roll out Fibre instead.

      Don't the Gov just love wasting our money.

      It's actually a good idea. It will offer almost fttp speeds st fttn prices. As for wasting money, really that's a surprise to you?

      What the others said. It has the speed of FttP (for now), and the cost savings of FttN (for now). The most expensive part of FttP is the part from the curb to your house, and FTTdp removes that. The slowest part of FttN is the copper, and FTTdp mostly removes that as well, so in the end it gets MOST of the FttN savings and MOST of FttP's speed. Enough that you wont notice the difference.

      Not yet anyway. There are still speed limitations, because copper still has to follow the laws of physics, but the shorter distance means they can get one last big hurrah out of the copper AND deliver speeds that make the investment worthwhile. Best of both worlds.

      In 10 years, when that copper is no longer able to deliver the 400 Mbps (or whatever we expect), the upgrade is a straightforward process for the homeowner, and the same as putting a phone line in.

    I tried to track all the acronyms on a news.com.au article I read about this... NBN, FTTN, FTTdP, HFC, MTM, CPP, it just went on and on.

      That's their technique to baffle the baby boomers so they don't understand how hard they're being shafted by fraudband.

        Gotta love the use of the term 'technology-agnostic', the literal interpretation of which is 'we don't know enough about what we're doing to make a decision'.

    that'd be "Kerb" rather than "curb". If they can't even spell it correctly, no wonder the whole project is another Turnbull SNAFU

    I bet the liberals will try and keep this news down low. This is getting ridiculous how they are ballsing this up. Optus must be cheering, getting a cool $800 million for nothing. Why weren't this contracts provided based on the condition that the cables was fit for purpose? what a joke. They hated labors plan because it screwed over the big telcos.

      The original deal with Optus is that they got $800M from Labor for their HFC network, which would then be decommissioned like the copper, to get all those customers on the NBN. Less competition, keeps things consistent, everyone wins in the end.

      Then the Libs had the bright idea of using it, instead of replacing it with fibre or nodes, to save costs. Except it turned out to be not so usable (which the original contract didn't care about). So now they're going back to Plan A and replacing it, only this time with FTTdp.

      This would use G.Fast over the remaining copper, which should get between 150Mbps to 1Gbps, depending on distance (or even XG.Fast if it's short enough). Definite improvement over FTTN, maybe not as good as the (better-maintained) Telstra HFC network, but OTOH gets the fibre that much closer to your premises..

      edit: What might actually be clever and foward-thinking, is to use the existing Optus HFC cabling to each house as lead-in from the FTTdp node, instead of copper, which could give dramatically better future speeds. Though I don't know what existing equipment supports that.

      Last edited 28/09/16 7:41 pm

        So for existing Optus cable customers they could stay as HFC from house to FTTdp OR they might revert to copper for that section? The later would be frustrating, for the perceived downgrade but also because I think that stretch of copper to my house is currently a mess.

          FTTdp runs only for a very short distance, as far as the nearest duct which it then becomes a fibre line to your exchange. I would prefer it over FTTN since the cost to go with a complete fibre run drops significantly.

        What you've said is the most accurate comment on this thread. G.fast is a great solution to effectly provide near fibre speeds. I do believe that in its most popular form it uses twisted pair so I'm not sure whether it could be adapted to utilise the coax of the Optus network. In all of the overbuilt areas I've seen the Optus lead in is aerial cable whilst the twisted pair installed by Telstra is via buried conduit. I think the G.Fast would be installed in the lead in pits so once an area is completed, they might remove the Optus aerial cable. I'm no expert but I don't even think you'd be able to use the Optus coax as a draw cable since MDU's don't have one continuous cable back to the street, they are 'daisy chained' within the property so would be useless.

    How about they finish rolling out the suburbs they started in 2010.

      Yeah that would be nice. Only one half of our suburb has NBN. The other half has to use Telstra shit.

        95% of our suburb has FTTP already rolled out, I'm in one of the remaining three estates that are getting FTTN and not until 2018.

    Hang on. Why would NBN Co have purchased Optus' HFC infrastructure in 2011, as this was during Labor's power in Government? When the policy was for Fibre and not "Mixed" tech?

      For the conduit access to roll out fibre faster.

    Seems like there's a lot of this going on. Telstra's Velocity estates have been left out of the discussion with a lot of confused rumours going around - I'm in a Velocity estate surrounded by FTTN and NBN Co have absolutely no intention of integrating Telstra's mess with the NBN... leaving me stuck with Telstra's congested network that makes FTTP feel like my old ADSL2+ connection.

    NBN with fibre to the home is "broadband" anything with copper is either adsl or vdsl (which is what the fttn really is). Most Australians have never experienced broadband and this is why idiots loved Malcolm and his stupid idea, the fool needs to be thrown in gaol for corporate espionage and treason.

    I just wish the NBN would stick with one delivery option and stick with it. Now we are going to have thousands of homes with FTTP, another thousands of homes with FTTN and now the rest with FTTC. So the NBN will be another mish mash of a network.

    I'm still not on board FTTdp. It's still a compromise. FTTP is the way to go and capable of gigabit speeds too.

    We live in a brand new "NBN" only estate. - So brand new fibre infrastructure all around.

    THOUGH our NBN is pretty much useless during peak hours. So much that my brother who makes a little living streaming LoL has had to become nocturnal in order to avoid the peak hours.

    Can't even watch TV/NETFLIX during peak times.

    It's absolute bullshit.

    Australian internet.

    Last edited 29/09/16 12:19 pm

      What provider? Backend capacity is important (I switched from a small company who didn't have the ability to buy a large slice of bandwidth to TPG, improved significantly during peak, 100/40 connection).

        We are with iinet - Limitless Data 25Mbps plan.
        Already brought the issue with them several times, they normally hand ball it to NBN co/telstra who basically tell us to put up with it.

        Last edited 29/09/16 1:30 pm

    I was about to get my NBN in November. I fear delays now, as technology have changed.

      Good luck. They measured out our street for FTTP in Aug 2012, I asked the guy and he told us around 6-8 months for installation. I emailed nbnco a couple of months ago only to be told they've changed to FTTN, expected mid 2018.

      Fuck nbnco.

    Great... I live in Redcliffe, one of the only areas stuck with HFC :( I'm currently booked in to get connected, and saw a glimmer of hope that they'll give me something else, but unfortunately not. Then again, maybe I wouldn't get anything else for a couple of years, and perhaps they'll change their mind and swap my HFC for FTTP (very wishful thinking!).

    Well, NBN co was advised not to buy it from Optus but I guess Optus put enough political pressure to force the sale

    Any news in which homes get this new system?

    The FTTC equipment is supplied by Netcomm. One of the directors albeit non executive however on the board is a person thag that is an executive director in NBN and a good old pal of our Prime Minister ... MT... Talk about conflict of interest... so flagrant and no one talks about how this was awarded...

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