nbn has decided not to use the Optus HFC network as part of its Multi-Technology Mix roll-out. Instead it will introduce Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) – or Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) as it is also called – in areas where it was intending to use the Optus assets.
nbn flagged its decision to reduce the number of premises that would be served by HFC in its most recent Corporate Plan, released in August. It was not clear at that time, though, that this would involve junking the Optus network altogether.
Presumably the trial Optus HFC upgrade in Redcliffe, Queensland raised the question as to the cost of making those assets nbn-ready.
It is the CWU’s understanding that the Optus HFC network has always been less developed than Telstra’s with, for instance, larger serving areas.
Optus HFC nodes reportedly serve as many as four times more premises as Telstra’s. That would make the necessary extensions to support higher speeds more costly.
Meanwhile, nbn has evidently become more confident in the viability of technologies that take fibre ever closer to the premises. It has increased the number of premises it intends to serve with FTTdp from 300,000 to 700,000 and has indicated that it may extend its use further after further trials.
Meanwhile, Optus will still get the $800,000 million that it was agreed it would receive under the 2011 deal with the then Labor government. That deal, like the original one with Telstra, involved the transfer of customers, not of assets as part of the creation of an NBN monopoly.
And that’s what will still happen – it’s just that the Optus network will be decommissioned, not utilised, as was the original plan. Telstra HFC, however, is still very much in the mix.