How many HFC dropouts in one day is too many? NBN. Co standards explained 

There are a number of types of National Broadband Network (NBN) connections, one being the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connection. HFC uses existing “Pay TV” or cable networks to connect the NBN from the nearest fibre connection node to a premise. 

With any connection, there are outages – unplanned, scheduled or intermittent dropouts. This article explains how the NBN has brought HFC under the same performance standard as fibre to the node (FTTN) in how they identify unexpected dropouts and how many dropouts are considered “too many”. 

The NBN consider four or more unexpected dropouts in a 24 hour period would qualify as a service “to be investigated”. This change has been reflected in the NBN Operations Manual dated February 22nd in a section called PI-Performance Incident – ​​Thresholds.  

The Performance Incident (PI) section is relatively new within the operations of NBN Co. The NBN Co describes that a PI has occurred when there are between four and nine unexpected dropouts in one day or during any of the previous two calendar days. 

The NBN defines an “unexpected outage” as a “temporary loss of connectivity”, but the definition excludes formal network outages. To better understand this concept, a PI would apply to problems experienced on a single line and not when there is a broader problem that may affect multiple lines or services.  

It is unclear why the NBN suddenly (and quietly) decided to bring HFCs under the IP threshold regime. A spokesman for NBN Co said it only came about as a result of an unspecified “consultation.” NBN’s intent with this new report is to help diagnose problems in the future, generate service restoration tickets, and determine when to send technicians to customer sites. PI thresholds still formally exclude all other access technologies, which make the apparent urgency of including HFCs in the standard even more unclear. It may be a move designed to subdue long-standing problems with unexplained outages in the HFC network and put a specific definition on what it would take for a site visit to examine the connection and try to remedy it. 

Counting the acceptable dropouts in the 24 hours can be a great solution to standardise services and offer a service without interruptions. 

However, for some people in the industry, a minimum of four unexpected dropouts is a fairly high number, these users might start making claims after two. In any case, it is important to take these measures as an improvement and a standard to improve the instability of the NBN and therefore be able to offer a better service to everyone. 

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