The NBN will have over 1 million fewer HFC-based services than previously planned, according to the latest nbn Corporate Plan, released on Friday 26 August.
The change of technology choice reflects new estimates by nbn of the cost of upgrading the Telstra and Optus HFC networks, particularly in areas where there are fewer lead-ins already in place. Industry newsletter Communications Day reports that the question of whether premises are currently served by aerial or underground cabling has also been an issue in the new costings.
E-bulletin readers may recall that there has always been a significant difference between the number of premises passed by the Telstra and Optus networks and the number of premises actually physically connected to them. There is also a number of “black spots” within the total HFC footprint, i.e. areas where there is no HFC at all.
The original plan, under the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix approach, was to fill in all these “blanks” as part of the HFC upgrade.
It has always been an interesting question, though, as to why this would be more cost-effective than FTTN (or Fibre to the Distribution Point/FTTdp) given that for these platforms the potentially most expensive parts of the exercise -the lead-ins - are already in place. The answer now seems to be that, in some areas at least, it is not.
The 2017 Corporate Plan now estimates the average cost of both FTTN/FTTB (Fibre to the Basement) and HFC connections at $2,300 – an increase for HFC of around $500 over previous costings, although still well short of the estimated (brownfields) Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) cost of $4,400.