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Australia’s NBN preps for G.fast and DOCSIS3.1 services in 2017

Growth in the Australian fixed broadband market has slowed in line with higher penetration rates. Within the market there is a dynamic shift among customers to fibre networks, as this infrastructure is being built out by nbn (NBN Co), the company responsible for the national broadband deployment. While fibre has become by far the fastest growing sector, and DSL is beginning to slide as customers are migrated to the NBN, there is continuing solid growth in the cable broadband sector. This will be supported in coming years when nbn begins to offer commercial services based on the DOCSIS3.1 standard from mid-2017.

Although progress is improving, the fact that the NBN has been a tool for political brinkmanship over the years has cost the country dearly in time and wasted opportunities. Australia ranks relatively low in the global rankings for fixed-line broadband speeds, and during 2015 it fell in a number of tables covering these metrics. Rather than rolling out a first class infrastructure throughout the country, based on FttP, a second rate multi-technology mix has been adopted which incorporates copper infrastructure and assigns fibre to a minority of connections. By contrast, most developed countries have far further advanced their fibre projects, and are fast-tracking infrastructure developments to keep pace with customer demand for high-end IP-delivered services as well as to develop their international competitiveness and digital economies.

The deployment of FttP in greenfield estates is a fast-growing industry, supported by an updated regulatory regime and pricing models. By early June 2016 there were 268,290 greenfield sites passed, of which 162,670 were activated, as well as 1.481 million brownfield sites serviceable, of which 723,440 were activated. As a measure of the speed of deployment reached (compared to the doldrums of 2011), some 31,690 additional lots or premises were passed or covered by the NBN during the last week of May 2016, of which about 25,980 were in brownfield areas and 2,750 in greenfield sites.

The multi-technology NBN has left room for further development in the DSL and cable sectors, both of which are benefiting from the deployment of new technologies. nbn has trialled G.fast technology and expects to provide services based on this upgrade during 2017. HFC is also gaining a new lease of life, with nbn also preparing to trial DOCSIS3.1 technology with a view to commercialising services by mid-2017.

As well as these technological developments, consolidation within the broadband market will provide greater reach and scale for operators in coming years.

A new BuddeComm report reviews a range of statistics and trends in the Australian broadband market, providing market share for the principal providers and including data from a range of recent surveys by government departments including the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the ACMA. The report also analyses the drivers behind internet adoption within the Australian residential and business sectors, and notes the gradual shift from PC-dominated connectivity to one more geared to smartphones and other devices as mobility becomes a more central consideration for consumers and businesses alike. In addition, the report analyses the situation with respect to greenfield fibre deployments. It provides an overview of fibre operators, as well as statistics on the FttP market and a review of developments related to DSL and HFC infrastructure as also satellite broadband via the SkyMuster fleet.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Australia – Fixed Broadband Market – Insights, Statistics and Analyses