Australia’s wholesale-only, open-access broadband network operator nbn has announced that it will temporarily pause all new orders over its Hybrid Coaxial-Fibre (HFC) access network. This pause will be in effect until incremental field work is undertaken to raise the quality of service for end users. A statement said that the changes to the HFC (also known as Pay TV network) rollout – which was currently adding an average of nearly 80,000 new premises each month – were 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.
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.
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 new initiatives will be first applied to the network where there are existing end users. Once these areas meet the required standard, the company says it will then focus on those areas next scheduled in the rollout queue.
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.
“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,” said nbn Co Chief Executive, Bill Morrow. “We remain confident of reaching our goal of completing the build and connecting eight million Australian premises by 2020.”
As the nbn HFC uses Telstra’s Foxtel infrastructure, the roll-out hiatus will have a knock-on effect on the financial performance of the Australian incumbent. A Telstra statement said that the telco would assess the effect of the nbn announcement in conjunction with the nbn co Corporate Plan 2018 on its outlook for FY18, and advise the market once that assessment is complete. “The delay in the nbn rollout will delay a proportion of the payments to Telstra from nbn into future periods”, Telstra added.