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NBN confirms DOCSIS 3.1 hardware by March

Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) company has confirmed that it will deploy DOCSIS 3.1 network termination devices (NTDs) across its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network by March next year to allow for gigabit speeds.

According to a new segment on NBN’s Integrated Product Roadmap [PDF], the HFC DOCSIS 3.0 NTD swap-out will take place between October 23, 2017, and March 30, 2018.

DOCSIS 3.1 will be switched on thereafter, with NBN last month noting a “potential commercial launch” during 2018.

NBN in June announced attaining gigabit speeds during a lab trial of DOCSIS 3.1 over its HFC network, ahead of further lab tests in August and field trials in December, while CEO Bill Morrow told Senate Estimates in May that NBN is currently deploying DOCSIS 3.1-capable modems for its HFC network.

NBN’s first DOCSIS — Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification — 3.1 trial, conducted in Melbourne, saw download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps.

Fibre to the premises (FttP) is currently the only NBN technology able to offer 1Gbps speeds until DOCSIS 3.1 is switched on for HFC customers, after being delayed from launching in the second half of 2017.

ZDNet understands that NBN is also speaking with vendors to conduct a trial of Full Duplex DOCSIS capable of 10Gbps symmetrical speeds once standards are finalised, after previously hailing Full Duplex DOCSIS — which technology partner Nokia used to attain 10Gbps symmetrical speeds during a trial across HFC networks — after CableLabs unveiled it in February last year.

In comparison to frequency-division duplex (FDD) and time-division duplex (TDD), Full Duplex DOCSIS sees both downstream and upstream traffic share the same spectrum. Symmetrical multi-gigabit broadband services are made possible through DOCSIS 3.1 technology when combined with Full Duplex DOCSIS.

According to NBN’s latest corporate plan, just 2.5 million to 3.2 million premises, or 21 to 27 percent of the population, will be covered by HFC — down from the 34 percent listed under the old plan.

Subsequent to publishing this number, however, NBN moved around 400,000 premises in the HFC footprint over to new fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FttDP) network technology due to having to replace the Optus HFC footprint with its FttDP network. A leaked NBN draft in November 2015 revealed that Optus’ HFC network was “not fully fit for purpose”.

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