news In what it is calling a “world first”, Comcast has switched on gigabit hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) broadband at a home in the US.
Comcast said the test connection confirmed that the telecommunications standard used, DOCSIS 3.1, will work over its existing network as currently configured.
“The next-generation technology that will deliver gigabit Internet speeds moved from the laboratory to the living room late last month when we installed what we believe to be the world’s first DOCSIS 3.1 modem on a customer-facing network,” the broadcast and cable giant said.
The test of the new system was carried out at a home in the Philadelphia area, using standard cable connections. “All we needed was a new modem, a software upgrade to the device that serves that neighbourhood, and a few good engineers,” said Comcast
Under Labor’s previous near-universal Fibre to the Premises model for Australia’s National Broadband Network, the HFC cable and copper networks owned by Telstra and Optus would have been shut down. However, the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix plan instituted by Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister in the Abbott administration is seeing them acquired and upgraded by the NBN company.
The NBN company is planning to follow in Comcast’s footsteps and launch gigabit broadband services over the HFC cable networks as part of the NBN.
Comcast plans to continue testing over the coming months, as it prepares to start delivering its DOCSIS 3.1 service to customers. Comcast indicated that it will begin offering a gigabit speed broadband choice in several parts of the US “before the end of 2016”.
The advantage of DOCSIS 3.1 is that it is backwards compatible with existing infrastructure, which means streets and backyards do not need to be re-excavated to lay new cable.
“This technology, when combined with the extensive upgrades we have already completed on our advanced Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial network, will provide more gigabit choices for our customers,” said the telco.
In coming months, Comcast said it plans to switch on HFC at more test homes using DOCSIS 3.1 technology in order to observe how it performs in “multiple real-world environments”. The results of the tests will be used to make whatever “minor modifications” are necessary for deployment to customers.
Since installing the first live DOCSIS 3.1 modem in Philadelphia, the company has expanded the trials to additional locations in Pennsylvania, Northern California and Atlanta, Georgia.