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The Rudd Government could kickstart its National Broadband network and begin delivering 100Mbps broadband to up to 30 percent of Australian households by the end of 2010 or early 2011, if it moves to acquire Optus’s hybrid fibre coax (HFC) network, a cable expert has claimed.

The Rudd Government could kickstart its National Broadband network and begin delivering 100Mbps broadband to up to 30 percent of Australian households by the end of 2010 or early 2011, if it moves to acquire Optus’s hybrid fibre coax (HFC) network, a cable expert has claimed.

Optus CEO Paul O’Sullivan last week confirmed that Optus has been discussing trading the HFC network for an equity position in the new NBN company ­ potentially gazumping similar moves by Telstra. US reports last night said SingTel was discussing a sale of all fixed line assets to the Government, and expected talks to be concluded by November.

The HFC network would need some capital investment to bring it up to fibre-optic broadband standards ­ but this could be achieved for expenditure of about $100 million, according to cable broadband expert Dermot Cox of C-COR Broadband, quoted in Business Spectator.

The journal claims the SingTel Optus cable network, built at a cost of $1.5 billion, is superior in design to Telstra’s cable network, but has suffered from chronic underinvestment.

“Bell South engineers designed the [Optus] network to handle voice, data and pay TV. Telstra’s network was designed as a spoiler with voice services kept on the PSTN. From a services perspective it was a lesser network,” Business Spectator says.

Cox, in a submission to the NBN regulatory review, says cable operators around the world are working on implementing DOCSIS 3 technology in combination with a feature called channel bonding that can deliver superfast broadband.

This technology could deliver 200Mbps download speeds per customer cable modem and upload speeds of 160Mbps per customer cable modem, Cox claims.

He argues that there will be no need for costly fibre overbuilds and street cabinets in areas where the NBN Co owns a HFC network operating with the latest technology.

Widespread reports yesterday suggested sale of the HFC cable could be part of a broader strategy by Optus parent SingTel that could see Optus re-list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Optus chief O’Sullivan last week confirmed Optus is willing to trade its HFC network for NBN equity. He added: “We are willing to consider all the options, as long as there is a clear, level playing field being created, and what we get is true open access and competition, and that no retail carrier can control the network.”


 

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