CHOICE membership

NBN HFC Service Connection Delays and Performance

performance
installation-issues
status

#1

Are you a Choice member currently on cable broadband waiting on HFC, someone who now has the NBN over HFC, or one of the many still in limbo waiting for the NBN to deliver the promised HFC to your home?

This may be a good place to share your experiences and advice on the NBN and the HFC service you have, or are waiting on.

With a small townhouse in the city of Brisbane as a second home we have been patiently waiting on the NBN Co to deliver. Firstly for Q3 2017, Then Q1 2018, Now Q1 2019, with another source saying Q2 2019.

The NBN Co has run a single CX50 spec coax ‘cable’ into our property, one of five, all to share the single connection through an unpowered signal splitter. The work was completed in Q1 2018. No progress since!
What ever the maximum data capacity of a normal HFC service is we will always be reduced to one fifth of the maximum capacity of a single cable over our distance from the fibre connection node. That Telstra is not offering HFC customers up front faster than 50Mbps because there is an uncertainty about the speed of each individual service is not reassuring?

Amazingly the five properties have never had a cable service. The NBN Co is providing a ‘new technology’ connection point for the cable (fibre to ‘cable’) aka node just down the street. It is most puzzling as to why this was not a fibre connection from the node as a FTTB, or FTTC or even five full fibre connections. I’ve left out the technical discussion at this point to keep this short. Political discussions excluded, someone might like to offer some wisdom on any technical reasoning.

Background:
One of the solutions of the revised MTM strategy for the NBN provided for the recycling of the previously constructed cable networks. The NBN Co did a deal to take over the networks developed by Telstra and Optus. The solution uses fibre to distribute the NBN around each customer area in a similar way to the FTTN solution. It uses a different technology in the node to convert the digital optical data on the fibre network to a modulated signal on the coax ‘cable’ for the final connection up to each premise.

The result was a solution labeled HFC (Hybrid Fibre Copper).

There are remaining approx 2 million premises outside of the RFS (ready for service) footprint of the NBN,
and a further approx 1.4 million in the RFS areas that are not yet ready to Connect.

The NBN Co is not providing updates in it’s monthly and weekly reports that separate out HFC service numbers or status from the other fixed line options. It is an educated guess from looking across the rollout maps that large portions of the near inner city areas in the capitals (IE those previously with cable access from Optus and Telstra), make up a large portion of the still to be serviced premises.

The NBN Co put the hand brake on HFC at the end of 2017. It has changed both the footprint and some technical aspects of the design/scope. Many areas have now been delayed more than a year due to the changes. Others have been transitioned to FTTN. There is not a lot of feedback on the HFC solution or progress.

There are numerous complaints elsewhere about previous cable customers who have switched over to HFC being worse off for speed and cost. Also issues re the connection points and internal cabling in properties with previous Foxtel, Telstra or Optus connections.


#2

Some multi residence buildings were pre-wired with cable for Foxtel even though that connection may never have been completed to the street. Perhaps yours is one of those and as a result would automatically be assigned HFC by running fibre to the ‘basement’ and using an converter for fibre to cable? I’m making this up as I go along so don’t quote me.
We have the non-NBN internet over cable at the moment and my speed test shows great down load performance that I’m not willing to give up until my contract with Telstra expires ( 3 Days!:)). Then I have until October to make a choice—think it will be iPrimus since they are the cheapest for my connection.
The only folk I know who have had issues with HFC are those who were not previously on cable internet. Usually its been finding someone to complete the connection from the street to the house.
Good luck


#3

That’s good to know about the street connection, although my reading of the NBN web site suggests they have to cable up to the house If you do not have an exisiting connection?

Fortunately we had no need to worry about the street connection.
For our instance the NBN Co sub-contractor has pulled in a cable to the middle of the five properties, CX50 spec as noted previously. It was pulled in through the same conduit as the existing copper multi core that provides the phone/ADSL2 service. This may have disturbed something as the ADSL2 speed has been very inconsistent and slower since.

P.s.
The properties, were never pre cabled for Foxtel. The NBN Co ran also ran external connections to each property. This had it’s own saga of drama per a previous topic.


#4

I agree that is the case but that can go awry by itself. A few houses here never had the cable and NBN crews finally installed it to their exterior walls before Chrissie. Every house on the street got the HFC cable to their exterior walls except mine, who none of the crews seemed to have on the work order.

Ringing the nice but partially blind NBN who seem quite limited in what they can ‘see’ and do, and after my expressing a probable record keeping problem whereby my house fell through the cracks, their own conclusion, as I posted elsewhere, is essentially “wait until the estate ‘goes live’ in June and if I still do not have the HFC to my exterior wall, ring back”. Not very reassuring, especially since the work crews stated the entire street was to be completed by 21 Dec, and all the other houses were completed except mine. My best guess after talking to NBN is their records think I had Telstra cable already so no work required, even though I assured them there is no cable to my house.

Regardless I plan to chase NBNCo up again end-January presuming no work gets done. I am not that keen on getting NBN since my ADSL is adequate, but I am not keen on having to deal with it after the estate goes live and they claim their clock is ticking to copper shutdown. Sure that is not how it is advertised to work, but I reckon it is how it will work locally. Time will tell.


#5

It’s apparent from reading other sources EG Whirlpool that the issues noted by @TheBBG and @grizzlyowl with the street connection are relatively common. Some have the common thread of the NBN Co not reliably knowing the current service status for a property. No one is checking?

In attempting to get the NBN Co’s attention there are contact details for phone and an online web service. I’ve used both re the prior issues for our HFC. The first phone contact was unsuccessful. This was followed up by use of the web complaint form and shortly there after another phone contact. It appeared to cause a escalation of interest, enough to start progress on a resolution.

The following table shows how much more work was outstanding on the HFC solution at 30 June. Only 20% RTC (Ready to Connect) with 2 million more to go by June next year!

It’s also apparent that compared to the other solutions HFC and FTTC are the two major areas that are incomplete in the NBN rollout.

These figures are based on the reduced HFC footprint after transfer of up to 1.4M premises from HFC and FTTN to FTTC.

P.S. while not related directly to the HFC rollout the footnote on the table with reference to the non fixed line footprint is most intriguing.


#6

I watched the installation of the NBN to my father’s retirement unit. It was a prime example of a lack of overall project management and subcontractors not feeling any responsibility to be part of a team effort.
The fibre was run to the premises and the installer was about to complete his part of the task by mounting a box and running the fibre through a wall. Had I not been there it would have been to the wrong bedroom. I didnt know what the next stage was going to be but the modem installer was unable to install the indoor wall unit since the fibre was too close to the floor and too far away from a power outlet. The outdoor fibre had to be moved by the first contractor. On installation of the indoor Modem I asked how the phone ( the existing POTS) was being connected. “Not my job mate” came the reply. A third person had to come out to connect the internal copper for the phones to the modem.
Each one of these contractors were paid for a poorly defined bit of work for a fixed price. No-one it seemed was responsible for the whole system. Just bad management


#7

#8

We are awaiting the final stages of connection to the NBN HFC network. They installed the connection box on the exernal wall ofthe house in August 2018. We have been advives by newsletter that the original go live date is not mid to late 2019…originally it was late 2018.

What I find amazing (not sure if this is fhe right word) is we have both Telstra and Optus cable in our street. The NBN will only use the underground Telstra cable and those houses which already have a overhead connection to the Optus cable either for phone, internet or cable TV, now need a new second cable to the Telstra cable. In our street, even though the NBN literature says that they will try to do overhead connections where possible, every house has an underground hfc cable run from the Telstra pits to an external wall of the residence. This has resulted in trenching through front yards as most houses are in an era where they don’t have conduit from telcom pits to these houses. They have also in many cases placed the NBN HFC connection box on the opposite side of the house to the existing Optus one.

We were fortunate enough to have conduit installed to about 3 metres of the Telstra pit during some renovations a decade ago. We had to negotiate this conduit be extended to the pit by the NBN contractor…they were unwilling to do so and said preference was to install new conduit from the pit to our house diagonally across the western side of our front yard. After much discussion they relented and extended the existing consuit (with much swearing and cursing during the work as it was not where they preferred toninstall the cable (easiest option for the contractor or the one which gave them the highest return).

The additional cost to install a second hfc cable from the Telstra network when a majority of houses in ghe street are already connected to the Optus HFC cable seems ridiculous waste of money. I know that tthe NBN bought the Telstra HFC network, but I am sure the costs to roll Optus HFC connected customers to the NBN network would have been cheaper than installing a second HFC connection…especially when the Optus HFC will possibly become redundant when the NBN becomes live.

The NBN also indicated that they are not responsible for removing the Optus HFC connection when the NBN is connected…something residents appear will be responsible for if and when Optus remove the overhead cables to the front roof HFC joint.

We are one of a few without existing Optus HFC, but the second NBN HFC connection has become the ire of some neighbours who thought that the their existing overhead connection would be used…as it appeared in brochures/literature in the early stages of works in our neighbourhood.

The additional cost of providing the second HFC connection, and making the existing Optus HFC cable redundant must be significant.


#9

It certainly seems to be a waste of money. The NBN Co did make a lot of noise about the condition of the Optus cable network post acquisition which might explain some circumstances. The external connection point to each property is supposed to be agreed with the owner (within NBN guidelines) the same as for any other new connection.

As a possible consolation for any property getting a brand new lead in and cable connection back to fibre, the NBN should have no excuse for not being able to provided a full 100/40 Mbps service speed, subject to the RSP having purchased the capacity.

As a future upgrade depending on the cable spec used and distance back to the fibre node the NBN Co has been talking up the ability to upgrade HFC to DOCSIS 3.1 which is 1Gbps or faster with channel bonding. The latest version of the cable modem being suppied by the NBN Co is supposedly DOCSIS 3.1 capable?

Of course this may just be marketing spin? A bit like putting Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres on your Holden Barina and expecting it’s ready to lap Bathurst as fast as a 911 Porsche. :laughing:


#10

Perhaps a complaint to the TIO about the connection might also be useful to get some further NBN Co interest in doing something. Ask a RSP for a connection and when they can’t complete due to a lack of cable to your house then you would have strong grounds…Telstra might be the way to go here as they still provide CSG payments and in absence of payment of CSG offer alternate means of connecting until the situation is rectified.


#11

A good idea, but nothing can hit the fan until NBNCo declares the estate ready for service and none can be provided. It has been pushed back for than a few times, and probably will be a few more.

My immediate goal is assuring their project actually knows I uniquely (on the street) do not have the physical connection to my house and to be home when they install it to assure it goes to a serviceable location.


#12

FWIW with the issues last year concerning our actual external HFC works, persistence paid off. Email, phone, email, phone … Not at RFS nearly a year later!

Eventually the NBN Co appeared to escalate after multiple enquiries to a service rep who seemed to understand the issue. They put me in direct contact with the NBN Contractor doing the work, IE Downer, and the supervising fore-person (man).

Our local Federal MP’s office also has a direct line to the area managers of Telstra and the NBN Co, with the MP personally volunteering to help escalate local NBN issues to the right person. I’m assuming local Federal MP’s of all parties have a similar interest right now! It may be a rare opportunity.

Perhaps you don’t need to approve of the local MP. Hopefully if you get a result there is the smug satisfaction of being the one taking the advantage, or is that just getting the service deserved?

Creatively but honestly it appears there is a serious concern to be adressed. The added costs and delays of the NBN Co needing to do a one off to cable your property at a later date.

From experience the TIO may be a weapon of last resort. It can have target identification faults?


#13

Make sure you take photos that include the connections your neighbours have and that you don’t then post that to the NBN Co and to the TIO in your complaint and add a public post on Facebook about it (https://www.facebook.com/nbnaustralia/)


#14

My home (in Lane Cove) is not due to be connected until January 2019. My office block had brand new HFC cable run throughout in early 2018 pre-freeze. It has still not been connected. It was due to be connected in December and then, now December has passed, they shifted it to May 2018. We are a small business of 12 people running on an ADSL connection.


#15

I think you meant to say May 2019. Any how welcome to the club of not yet NBN HFC customers. Noting your delays and the delays to our Brisbane connection suggests there may still be issues with the HFC rollout, or perhaps they’ve run out of money?

P.S.
I used to work in an office with a shared ADSL service. The boss ultimately bit the bullet and some of us started using the then brand new Telstra 4GX service as an alternative, to help us meet key deadlines. Telstra won both ways!

Incidentally last week in Urban Brisbane (Ashgrove) Ookla gave us 143/38Mbps on Optus 4G LTE 10:30am weekday. It typically tests and performs better than 40Mbps on downloads. For that area the NBN HFC will need to be rock solid what ever the speed plan chosen right up to 100Mbps, or there will plenty of users looking to extend their mobile data and do without.


#16

Thanks @mark_m . I wasn’t aware of the difference between 4G & 4GX. We have dongles which I’ve now found out are 4G (just tested and got 38Mbps download). We also have a Nighthawk that is 4GX. I just tested the Nighthawk and got 252Mbps download. This is amazing. I’ve never got this fast before with the Nighthawk. Maybe Telstra have upgraded 4GX in our area (or maybe it is just quiet in the holiday period). Did your boss turn off ADSL and use 4GX in its place?


#17

Our home is listed for HFC. Around six months ago, the external NBN boxes were installed on homes in our street, and the following day, they ran a new coax cable from the Telstra pit, through our existing conduit, under our house, through the wall, and terminated it at the external box.

The next day, they came back, disconnected the cable and pulled it out. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: At that point I thought “maybe we will get FTTC instead ?”. Nope. We’re still down for HFC.

The NBN availability date for our address has changed many, many times, and is currently Apr-Jun 2019.


#18

The business still needed a direct phone connection/s and ran backups at night. Some staff stayed on the office connection. The decision was more about having good data access and also gave those of us who traveled better access. The cost was not a major factor for the business. My current Telstra 4GX device supports multiple wifi connected clients. We tend to only use Telstra when there is no other option, typically in areas with poorer coverage.

I rely on using an Iphone 8 to provide a mobile hotspot when connected to Optus. You can have multiple devices on a shared data plan with Optus business accounts. We share data over four services (three mobile and one data device). The previous results for Ashgrove were all OPTUS using the iphone!

If you are an 8am-4pm or similar office hours you avoid evening peak for mobile data and calls.

NBN HFC should be a better option once it arrives if all your work is from the one site. Assuming that if you manage on ADSL you don’t need more capacity than HFC offers on a standard service?


#19

My brother who lives in the country recently was connected to the NBN. In order to get a Seniors or Pension Plan he had to sign an agreement that he would never complain (outside of the company) about service or lack of promised speed etc. Since being connected his internet speed has fallen a lot and although he has complained to the company on a number of occasions his complaints have been ignored. My question is; can a company “force” a customer to relinquish is consumer rights to get a cheaper rate?


#20

No, and if that is in writing I suggest you have a read of the ACL regarding unfair contracts. Unfortunately even if blatantly unfair, the ACCC is powerless excepting apparently through ‘your dollar’ in the courts.

Ultimately, only a court or tribunal (not the ACCC) can decide that a term is unfair.

The core of the ACL does not address gag provisions, per se, but does address rights.