The NBN Will Use DOCSIS 3.1 To Speed Up Its Cable Broadband Service

Good news, speed freaks: after the National Broadband Network (NBN) begins rolling out services based on the existing pay TV cable network early next year, it will upgrade the network with a new standard that offers a theoretical top download speed of 10 gigabits per second.

We already knew that network builder NBN Co was planning to begin a cable pilot in late 2015, with product to follow in 2016. It finalised deals to acquire the existing HFC networks from Optus and Telstra late last year.

As part of that takeover, NBN Co will eventually update the networks to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which has a theoretical maximum download speed of 10GBps and a maximum upload speed of 1Gbps. In reality, users will see lower speeds, especially when more customers are connected, but it's still a big improvement on the current HFC network. Part of that speed improvement will be achieved by changing the number of premises connected to an individual HFC node.

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    That won't happen immediately, however. The first field trials of 3.1 will begin in the US later this year. NBN Co says it will begin the upgrade in 2017, making it one of the first commercial rollouts of the technology anywhere in the world.

    In other words: if you sign up for a cable-based NBN service in 2016, you'll initially only get the speeds already available, but you should see an improvement a couple of years after that.


  • Comments

      Have they said how the cable rollout will work? Right now Telstra won't install cable into "apartments or units", basically anyone with a number before their street number, it appears (even when they're townhouses, that all have street frontages!). Will NBN co have similar restrictions in place, and if so, what will be provided to those selected houses down those streets?

        If I understand correctly, and I could be wrong, NBN Co will only acquire the HCF network and won't be expanding it. So if you can't get cable through Telstra or Optus now, you won't be able to under the NBN either.

        It's been stated somewhere (the announcement about the pilot sites?) that people in MDUs will most likely have to wait for Fibre to the Basement (FTTB).

          I wonder what that means for non MDU's who can't get HFC....

        Optus stopped doing that years and years and years ago (stopped providing to subdivisions that is). There's a webform Telstra employees can access to send off to (I forget the department) to check into the cost of trenching/cabling ;) It's about $120/m, if you can afford it ask them to put in the form.

        When did you last check about T Cable? I've had mine in my apartment for a couple years now.

        Last edited 16/03/15 3:37 pm

          Probably about 6 months ago, I reckon. I just started saying my address and they said "nope we don't do units", nevermind I'm not in a unit, I'm in a street facing townhouse...

            Unit/apartment/town house isn't the thing; it's the subdivision. :( but that sucks so much I didn't know they stopped doing that. Wasn't plan on moving any time soon but this definitely cements that. Time to concrete myself to the floor.

      1Gbps upload is still completely useless.
      How are we meant to run businesses with such slow push speeds?

        I think you may be confusing Gbps and Mbps. 1Gbps upload is super fast.

      This is all well and good, but if they don't fix the HFC networks so that they deliver the customer's desired speed round-the-clock, and not just at 3am when no one else is using it, people are still getting an inferior product to FTTP. So far I haven't heard an iron-clad guarantee that they WILL fix the congestion problems - just that it is their "intention" to do it. Just like it's their intention that everyone will receive at least 25mbits down and 'something, I guess' up. Of course if they don't deliver that, tough sh*t apparently. According to their FTTN disclaimer, inferior speeds are due to "factors beyond their control".

        They have talked about splitting the segments to reduce contention. So in theory it should give better performance than the current Bigpond Cable offering.

      They really need to drop HFC. It's a bygone technology.

      When ours is working well, the full advertised 100mbits/s down is achievable. However, like all RF coax it's very flaky in hot weather and very susceptible to noise. Telstra keep "fixing" it but the problems recur. I suspect mostly sticking plasters over a gaping wound.

        Keep in mind that Telstra's not the only HFC provider. We've been using Optus HFC (in Melbourne eastern suburbs) since around 2001. It has nearly always been s very stable, with good speeds and very rarely flaky. (with DOCSIS 3.0 averaging 80-100 Mbps outside peak periods) I have been testing the speeds nearly every day for years. The newest Optus $90 phone and unlimited data bundle is quite good value, Telstra (which I used also for two years) has always been parsimonious in comparison.

        Things can only get better with DOCSIS 3,1, and even DOCSIS 3.0 could be re-engineered to run faster. Agree with stendec (and responder James) that the overall HFC network must always be kept balanced to deliver consistent around-the-clock speeds that meet customers' expectations and don't drop off badly during peak usage times. HFC is far from dead, and a good solution for many users, even if puristically not as good as an FTTP network.

      I am in a block of 8 units and in the lowest rental market on the gold coast 225 a week, 6 out of 8 of us have cable and speeds 35 mbs. It seems it is more economical to do units as the cable just connects to such a short distance compared to houses. Units use internet as much as houses if not more as those alone are online more to keep communication with the world and to provent isolation. The first comment i don't understand. If i move to another unit some where else i think it would be crazy not to have access as the demand is there! & its cost effective.

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