Successful trials of new DOCSIS 3.1 technology indicate that fantastic speeds could be possible through existing nbn™ HFC infrastructure.

Recently, nbn made an exciting announcement with regards to the future of the HFC network. Lab tests have indicated the planned DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade could enable HFC to deliver the same wholesale speeds as Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.

That’s a whopping 1Gbps wholesale download speed, and a market-leading 100Mbps wholesale upload speed* (more than double the current highest wholesale upload speed of 40Mbps available over the HFC parts of the nbn™ network^).

Potential upgrade of the nbn™ HFC network with DOCSIS 3.1 technology

In May 2017, nbn announced that it was the first Oceania nation to be accepted in to the prestigious CableLabs organisation. DOCSIS 3.1 has been CableLabs priority focus, with its 56 members – including the biggest names in North America, Asia and Europe – establishing this new standard.

Australia is set to be one of the first markets outside of America to provide the DOCSIS 3.1 technology upgrade path to its telecommunications network.

The expected end result, as CEO Bill Morrow has stated, is that nbn "will be able to bring Gigabit broadband to these premises far more quickly, cost effectively and with less disruption to end users than alternate technologies in these busy urban areas."^

How and when will DOCSIS 3.1 technology roll out?

The good news is that, when the planned DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade is rolled out, existing end users with a non-compatible nbn™ connection box, who are connected to services over the nbn™ HFC network, should have their connection box replaced by a DOCSIS 3.1 capable modem at no charge.

However, nbn already began rolling out DOCSIS 3.1-ready connection boxes in February of this year in preparation for the planned upgrade, so a replacement will not be necessary for all premises.

And all new connections to services over the nbn™ HFC network should come with a DOCSIS 3.1 modem in preparation for the planned future upgrade in wholesale speed capability.

Another round of lab testing is planned for August, with the first field tests planned to occur through December. If lab tests go as expected, Retail Service Providers (RSPs) could begin to offer DOCSIS 3.1-enabled HFC packages over the nbn™ network to eligible customers in 2018.

This may not be the end point for the HFC upgrade path, either. CableLabs is currently deep in its research on the next iteration of the standard, which is called Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1.

This exciting advancement aims to demonstrate symmetrical 10Gbps upload and download speeds in lab trials. That’s trial speeds of 10Gbps up and 10Gbps down.* However, this technology, if implemented, is a way off yet.

"These early tests of DOCSIS 3.1 technology are very exciting,” Bill Morrow confirmed. “This is another example of the continued efforts of the nbn team to innovate and plan for Australia's growing demands for data. DOCSIS 3.1 is going to be able to provide fantastic Gigabit potential for end users – just as our Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network does today.”

* nbn provides services to its wholesale customers, telephone and internet service providers, and does not provide services directly to end users. These speeds were achieved by end users in the context of a trial and are not necessarily reflective of the speeds that will be experienced by end users. End user experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network depends on the technology over which services are delivered to their premises and some factors outside our control like equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how the end user’s service provider designs its network.

^ We’re designing the nbn™ network to provide these speeds to our wholesale customers, telephone and internet service providers.  Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network depends on technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network.

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