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NBN Finally Revs Up DOCSIS 3.1 Engine

Alan Breznick

After more than two years of delays, NBN has finally started deploying DOCSIS 3.1 technology on its Australian national broadband network.

NBN Co Ltd. -- Australia's government-backed wholesale broadband provider that has run into funding problems, technology issues and construction delays -- announced earlier this week that it has started "enabling" DOCSIS 3.1 on the HFC portion of its hybrid nationwide network as it revs up HFC activations over the next few months. NBN has activated several thousand premises for DOCSIS 3.1 thus far, with plans to cover all 3 million HFC-passed homes, or about 27% of all Australian homes, by the end of 2020. (See NBN Australia Launches DOCSIS 3.1.)

The still-in-development hybrid NBN network consists of a mix of HFC, fiber-to-the-curb, fiber-to-the-premises, fixed wireless and satellite technologies. It's supposed to reach 11 million Australian homes by the time it's completed, but only passes about 6 million now. (See Australia's NBN Seeks More Govt Cash to Cover Loss-Making Rollout.)

NBN intends to leverage D3.1 to "double the downstream capacity" of its HFC network. By doing so, it aims to avoid the need to install many new fiber-optical nodes through costly node-splitting, which cablecos typically use to reduce the number of homes served by their existing network nodes.

Surprisingly, though, unlike most cable operators, NBN does not aim to use D3.1 to boost data speeds for broadband users, at least not right away. So, rather than offer gigabit or multi-gigabit services, it does not plan to boost data downstream speeds any higher than its current 100Mbit/s maximum. For more on this story, please visit our sister site, Broadband World News. (See NBN Finally Brings DOCSIS 3.1 Down Under.)

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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