Australia: nbn HFC roll-out on hold

NBN Co, the body responsible for the roll-out of Australia’s national broadband network, has temporarily paused all new orders over its Hybrid Coaxial-Fibre (HFC) network access network. This pause will be in effect until incremental field work is undertaken to raise the quality of service for end users.

The changes to the HFC (also known as pay-TV network) rollout – which is currently adding an average of nearly 80,000 new premises each month – are designed to provide a better experience when getting connected and when using the service. The changes will also help to further improve the reliability of the network.

The company’s current corporate plan calls for nearly three million premises to ultimately be served by HFC access technology. Today, nearly one million premises are ready to connect with 370,000 having done so already.

The initiatives will be first applied to the network where there are existing end users. Once these areas meet the required standard, the company will then focus on those areas next scheduled in the rollout queue.

There will be a delay of the current rollout timing of new HFC areas while the company undertakes this work in both the existing footprint and areas not previously declared ready for service. The company confirmed, even with these changes, it remains on target to connect eight million active end users and deliver a fully connected continent by the year 2020.

In order to meet a higher level of service quality, NBN Co will be performing advanced network testing and remediation where needed, wholesale connector replacements, signal amplification calibration, and lead-in work as required.

Internet Service Providers are being informed of the changes and NBN Co’s website will be updated in the weeks ahead so end users can check their address and understand any changes that may impact their eventual switch to the nbn access network. NBN Co is working with the existing infrastructure owners of both the ADSL and HFC networks to be sure those who may wait a bit longer to switch to services on the nbn access network will still have access to the same services that they have today. This means existing (non-nbn) ADSL and HFC customers should continue to access their current (non-nbn) service while these changes are made.

NBN Co management said that while it was pleased that many end users served over its HFC network were satisfied, too many were not having the experience they deserve when getting connected and some were not experiencing the full potential of the network. The company said that the extra time and effort taken would help ensure people could enjoy the well-known and well regarded fast broadband that HFC technology is delivering globally.

As part of its regular reporting, NBN Co committed to providing updates on the progress of work on the changes to the rollout of the HFC network.

“So we can provide a better experience to our customers and their end users, NBN Co will immediately implement new initiatives designed to improve the quality of service for end users on our HFC network,” commented NBN Co Chief Executive, Bill Morrow. “In order to deliver an improved experience on HFC, NBN Co will be performing additional work ahead of end users being able to connect to nbn services on the HFC network. With the incremental work now required before a home is declared ready to connect, we are focused on providing a better service to our customers (the Internet Service Providers) and thereby improving the experience for the end user.”

“While the good news is that we are working on a better experience for the internet providers and end users, the improvement efforts will take additional time and therefore a delay of schedule will occur for most of the remaining HFC premises that have yet to switch to services on the nbn access network. We remain confident of reaching our goal of completing the build and connecting eight million Australian premises by 2020.”

“There are so many elements of this industry transformation that we cannot directly control, but we are serious about improving that which we can. This is a deliberate change to demonstrate NBN Co’s focus on putting the customer experience as a priority over all else. The HFC access technology is used around the world to deliver reliable high-speed broadband services. This technology is an important part of NBN Co’s technology mix.”

“The rollout of the nbn access network is one of the most complex and ambitious initiatives in any telecommunications market across the world – we are focused on ensuring the network is ready to deliver services which meet the expectations of Australians.”

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