« Learning and creating | Main | Everything is amazing, but nobody’s happy… »

April 04, 2009

Cable versus HFC

Here's an interesting angle on the National Broadband Network shambles. Japan's cable giant J:Com has just upgraded its network to 160 megabits per second, which is the world's fastest, and so far ahead of the NBN's target of 12Mbps that one can only weep. And the cost of upgrading the J:Com network to achieve those rates? $US20 per home passed. The costs will obviously be higher in Australia, but obviously nothing like the costs of laying fibre.

What's interesting is that this is the same technology - Docsis 3.0 - which is being used by Telstra for its HFC upgrade in Melbourne. Except that (predictably) we'll only be getting 100Mbps, and lamentably slow upload speeds. There may be technical reasons that limit the capabilities of the Telstra HFC installation, but who knows? And we would have thought that the fact that HFC capacity is shared would surely limit the speed available even in Japan.

The other difference will be that where Japan will be charging $US60 per month for the service, and the Netherlands 80 euros ($107) for 120 Mbps service and 60 euros ($81) for 60 Mbps, we'll be paying who knows how much? The margins that these overseas companies hit their customers with are huge enough, but compared to Telstra's, they're tiny.

The story highlights the paucity of information in this country on the costs and capabilities of the competing solutions. This document suggests that HFC will be a cheaper solution over 13 years while fibre to the home offers vastly increased speeds. Not that we're considering fibre to the home.

We can't help but wonder if Senator Conroy is on top of these issues.

Posted by cw at April 4, 2009 12:21 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I doubt Senator Conroy nor the DBCDE 'is on top of these issues', if there was ever a department that needed purging it has to be DBCDE as they have probably hardly changed ethos since the T1 share issue in not having Telstra wholesale/retail separation.

We just keep moving along with horrendous rubbish coming out of the DBCDE, be it the rollout of Digital TV originally set to be turned off in 2008 shifting out to 2013, NBN, Censorship...

And I do blame Senator Conroy and also his predecessor Senator Coonan and both the current government and previous government as the DBCDE may be a hard portfolio (as some have said) but with so much incompetence at the DBCDE it makes the ministerial role so much harder.

Posted by: Stephen [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 4, 2009 03:47 PM

no only is price and speed an issue. Download (and in some cases upload) limits here in Australia are a pain.

Working from home and downloading images mean I have to limit my use.

Recently visiting a friend in the UK I could only cry at his un-limited (and that does not mean throttled after a set limit) cheap high-speed broadband.

Posted by: Bryan at April 6, 2009 08:11 PM

I am perplexed. All this talk of super duper high internet speeds has me wondering -- what does it mean?

I am on BigPond Cable Extreme Liberty with a 25GB monthly traffic quota. It tells me on the BP web site that my service has a speed "up to 30Mbps". In fact when I run a speed check using various broadband speed check services it seems I do about 14Mbps.

But in the Real World I have never even reached a download speed of 2Mbps. If I get 1Mbps I stand and cheer. Half that speed and I am still as happy as pig in muck.

So what exactly is the point of 100Mbps if you can't download anything faster than 2Mbps? It doesn't make any sense. The speed bottleneck is obviously not on the ISP lines -- they already well exceed the speed of the possible file transfer. So what are we talking about? Do the lucky Japanese actually get their files faster? Their web pages in the blink of an eye? If they are then it's not a function of the connect speed but something else. If I were really truly getting 14Mbps transfers I would already be getting everything in the aforesaid blink of an eye.

Posted by: dpexpert at April 7, 2009 02:54 PM