Better late than never: nbn™ DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade starts

Where? Not saying, but it'll be nearly everywhere by 2020. Pinky-promise

DOCSIS 3.1 has finally landed in Australia, courtesy of a currently-limited rollout to HFC-connected National Broadband Network (NBN) customers.

Network-builder nbn™ hasn't announced where the service is being enabled, but said the deployment will reduce its reliance on node-splitting to meet its performance targets, and said it expects to have DOCSIS 3.1 everywhere by 2020.

Last year, the company started its DOCSIS 3.1 trials, and at the time it predicted a “soft launch” of the technology this year.

It had previously hoped for an even earlier launch, saying in 2015 it wanted to switch the technology on during 2017.

Troubles with HFC infrastructure put paid to that. First, nbn™ in 2016, the company had to abandon the HFC infrastructure it acquired from Optus (for AU$800 million), rather than remediate the network.

The infrastructure issues didn't stop the company from increasing the number of premises HFC would serve last year, but nbn™ found itself suspending new HFC connections on the Telstra part of the network for further remediation.

Most of the work required was at the customer connection end, but nbn™ also inherited a provisioning headache, in the form of a network with upstream connections too thin to support peak traffic.

That's the point of today's statement from supplier Arris, which announced that its DOCSIS 3.1 kit is now in operation in the NBN.

The Arris technologies in rollout are a converged cable access platform (CCAP), the E6000 Gen 2; the CM8200B cable modems; the ServAssure management platform; and the OptiMax 4100 nodes.

It's the OM4100 nodes that nbn™ will hope gets rid of its need for node-splitting.

In the network the company bought from Telstra, the HFC node typically connected up to 200 households on the copper side to the upstream optical channel. To get rid of the resulting congestion in the pre-DOCSIS 3.1 world, nbn™ was dividing those service areas into smaller chunks with more nodes.

The DOCSIS 3.1 standard doubles network capacity, meaning the network-builder can at least put off splitting nodes until customer traffic catches up with what the new(ish) standard can support.

nbn™ said it intends to have the Arris kit in service for the “vast majority” of its HFC connections by 2020.

CTO Ray Owen said: “DOCSIS 3.1 will not only double the capacity of the NBN Co HFC network, but it will also help us deliver a more stable and resilient service for end-users with the advanced technologies that it uses”. ®

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