Far fewer NBN customers will be connected via cable

Angus Kidman 26 August 2016


An update to rollout plans means millions more people will be on fibre-to-the-node.

Fewer Australians will now be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via cable, because it turns out to be more expensive than anticipated.

Under the multi-technology mix approach used for the NBN, the existing HFC network originally built by Telstra and Optus for pay TV was going to be used to connect customers where possible. That would save on having to run new fibre to those buildings. A trial was run in Queensland last year, and commercial cable NBN services were launched in June 2016. A total of 18,000 premises can currently connect via cable, and build work has begun on 61,000 more.

It turns out, however, that the cost per premises for connecting HFC is $2,300, which is higher than the expected $1,800. As a result, nbn (the government-backed company building the network) is planning to switch some sites which originally were going to have HFC connections to a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) connection. Originally, 4 million homes were due to be connected by HFC. That's now expected to be between 2.5 million and 3.2 million.

"We have seen a reduction in the expected total footprint of HFC," a statement from nbn said. "The reduction in HFC premises reflects a transition of higher cost HFC premises to FTTN/B/dp following further understanding of network planning and design and delivery arrangements."

The estimated cost for FTTN is also $2,300. While the cost is the same as HFC, if the costs are equal it makes sense to cover wider areas with FTTN rather than having lots of variation in a given area. Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), the older model that ran fibre right to individual premises, costs $4,400 for existing houses, but just $2,100 in greenfields estates or new apartment buildings. Fixed wireless, which is used in regional areas, costs $4,600 per premises.

What does that change mean in practice? Previously, if you lived in a location where cable TV was available, it was likely that the HFC network would be used for your connection. That's now less clear. You can check the current plans for what will be rolled out at your address using finder's NBN Tracker, which is regularly updated as NBN rollout plans are adjusted.

The NBN is due to be completed by 2020 and connect an estimated 8 million premises. To date, it has passed 2.9 million premises. Here are the estimated percentage of premises that will be connected via each service:

Service% range
Fixed wireless and satellite8%

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3 Responses to Far fewer NBN customers will be connected via cable

  1. Default Gravatar
    Tracy | September 12, 2016

    Can you please tell me what nbn tier 1 or tier 2 I see. Some service providers are using these words so any help would be great thank you

    • Staff
      Anndy | September 15, 2016

      Hi Tracy,

      Thanks for your question.

      NBN offers 5 different speed tiers that differ in download speed and other features.

      I’ve sent you an email with a link to a page that explains more about NBN speed tiers.


  2. Default Gravatar
    Noel | August 26, 2016

    I wonder if I would still get HFC tech here in my street. Cause in Alexandra Hills, its all a mix all over the place. Where some has HFC and some doesn’t. Where I live I do have access to HFC, but then the other half of my street doesn’t.

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