HFC Or Not? The Broadband Question.

For the last week. Malcolm Turnbull has been touting the use of HFC as an interim alternative to fibre. At the very least he wants to focus the fibre roll-out in areas that don’t already have HFC.

“They’re getting very good service already,” he said on ABC’s Lateline last week. It’s an approach that upset the Competitive Carriers’ Coalition. In this week’s CrossTalk podcast, CCC chair Matt Healy says, “there’s an undue focus on getting faster services out at the expense of the competition issue.”

So, would he be satisfied if HFC was offered as an open access service? After all, it’s already being done. Phil Smith at Opticomm, describes how they’re wholesaling HFC services at an estate in Western Australia.

Dermot Cox, former head of marketing and advocacy at C-COR, reckons the cost of making Telstra’s HFC network wholesale-ready could be as little as $10 million. Paul Brooks from Layer 10 Advisory says that figure ignores the need to upgrade capacity and connect new customers.

It raises the question, if extensive upgrades are needed, is it worth the expense for an interim solution? It seems the Coalition’s much-publicised forthcoming cost-benefit analysis gets more complex by the day.

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