news NBN Co has revealed that it plans to launch super-fast HFC broadband services next year using DOCSIS 3.1 – a new technology that can produce up to 10 Gbps symmetrical data speeds over the hybrid fibre-copper cable networks.
The announcement was prompted by the publication of a new report predicting that upgraded HFC networks will play a “key role” in delivering ultra-fast broadband around the world by 2020.
Dennis Steiger, NBN Co’s CTO, said the firm plans to launch its new DOCSIS 3.1 services “in the second half of next year” and that, at launch, the upgraded HFC technology will offer “the same wholesale speed tiers that FTTP and FTTN do currently”.
Additionally, he indicated, NBN Co is also keeping a close eye on other emerging technologies such as Full Duplex DOCSIS because of the “extraordinary potential” offered.
Steiger went on to say that the advances being made in HFC technology in recent years mean networks that 10 years ago were “struggling to make double-digit Megabit speeds” are already approaching speeds of “up to 1Gbps and beyond”.
And the technology still has plenty of scope for improvement according to the new report, which was commissioned by NBN Co and researched and published by independent analyst and consultancy firm Ovum.
The research predicts that the global HFC broadband market will continue to expand over the next five years, despite growing competition from fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks in many countries.
Ovum said it expects that the total number of global broadband subscribers to HFC networks will increase by 23% from 152 million last year to 187 million in 2020.
Furthermore, it said HFC will remain a “market-leading technology” in blue-chip markets, such as the US, where Ovum predicts the tech will be providing broadband to over 70 million subscriber households by 2020.
“Network performance by HFC now rivals fibre-based platforms, with HFC operators enabling substantial increases in download speeds over the last five years,” the report said.
In the US, it added, average HFC download speeds have improved from 12Mbps to 40Mbps, and similar improvement has been reported in the UK, with cable speeds averaging over 70Mbps in November 2015.
And HFC cable broadband is likely to continue to evolve, as full duplex and other techniques reach market.
Full duplex will enable “dramatic improvements” in upstream capacity and speeds, “ultimately allowing Gigabit speeds both downstream and upstream,” the report said.
Steiger concluded by saying that, due to improvements in HFC tech, “we have an exhilarating journey ahead of us where we expect to have the ability to deliver speeds that were simply unimaginable a decade ago”.
Image credit: NBN company