Emerging Technology

Optus to start switching off HFC cable network in 2014, completely dismantling it by 2018

Andrew Sadauskas /

Optus has announced that it will begin switching off its Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable network in 2014, and will completely dismantle the network by 2018.

The announcement was made after the Singtel-owned phone company gained approval from the ACCC to migrate its HFC cable customers to the National Broadband Network.

Optus’ above-ground HFC network (recognisable from the ground by the thick black cables strung half-way down power poles in suburban Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) is currently used to deliver Optus’ cable internet, phone and pay television services.

It was originally installed under the Keating government by the Optus Vision pay TV consortium – made up of Optus, Cablevision, Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network and Kerry Packer’s PBL Limited – in direct parallel to the predominantly underground HFC network installed by the News Corporation and Telstra pay TV joint venture, Foxtel. In turn, both HFC networks duplicated Telstra’s existing Copper Access Network (CAN). All three networks are to be replaced by the NBN.

The HFC networks work by supplying each neighbourhood (or “node”) with fibre optic cable, and then using coaxial cable for the final mile connection between consumers’ premises and the node. Unlike a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network such as the NBN, consumers are not connected directly to a fibre optic cable.

Optus anticipates large scale migration of customers currently served by its HFC cable network to the NBN will begin in 2014, allowing it to begin progressively switching off the network.

Singtel-Optus’ Australian country chief officer, Paul O’Sullivan, said: “This decision enables Optus to focus on delivering better service standards and more choice for customers through the NBN.”

“We will continue to work closely with NBN Co in preparation for the rollout schedule and customer migration.”

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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