NBN HFC Explained: How Hybrid Fibre Coaxial Works!

HFC Modem

Hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) is a type of broadband access network that combines optical fiber and coaxial cable to deliver high-speed internet services to consumers and businesses.

As a widespread method of data communication, HFC networks leverage the existing ‘pay TV’ or cable infrastructure to connect users to the internet with the help of a fibre backbone.

The setup includes running fibre optic lines to nodes within neighborhoods, which then transition to coaxial cables to connect individual premises.

NBN HFC also had a cease sale imposed, however issues have since been corrected.


The design of the NBN HFC networks enables internet service providers to utilize the high bandwidth of optical fibers up to a point close to the customer, before switching to coaxial cable, which can carry the broadband signals the remaining distance without significant loss of speed or quality.

This blend of technologies ensures that HFC can offer high speeds and reliable connections, which makes it a vital part of the infrastructure for delivering broadband services.

One of the main advantages of HFC networks is the ability to deliver high data rates while keeping upgrade costs lower compared to the installation of entirely new infrastructure.

This is particularly beneficial in areas already serviced by coaxial cables, making it a practical solution for many internet service providers looking to expand their reach or enhance their service offerings.

As broadband demands continue to rise, HFC remains an important component in the ongoing development of nbn.

Understanding NBN HFC Technology

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) technology is a telecommunications infrastructure that combines optical fiber and coaxial cable to deliver broadband internet service.

This method is widely used in scenarios where the existing cable network is repurposed to form part of the broadband network.

Most residents who are eligible for this service, have had cable internet in the past, which performed at a similar level to base nbn HFC plans.

Components of HFC Networks

HFC networks consist of several key components that work together to provide internet connectivity.

At the core of the network is the fibre node, which is the juncture where optical fiber transitions to coaxial cable.

From the fibre node, a signal travels through the coaxial cable, a copper cable that historically carried television signals to homes but is now also used for internet data.

So essentially it is a mix of Fibre and Cable technology types which then combine to create the HFC NBN network.

Another vital component is the splitter, which divides the signal from the fibre node to multiple coaxial cables, thereby distributing the connection to various households and businesses.

Each end-user’s property has an HFC connection box that receives the signal from the coaxial cable to allow access to the internet service.

This also means you will need an NTD modem as well as a normal modem to get internet access. This is also provided as part of your plan by the ISP.

How HFC Delivers Internet Service

HFC delivers internet service by transmitting data through the optical fiber network up to a local node, where the signal is then converted and passed onto the coaxial cable.

The HFC connections transmit data over the coaxial segment using radio frequency. An advantage of this setup is that it leverages existing cable TV infrastructure for the last-mile of connectivity, which can offer high-speed internet access without the need to lay new fiber directly to homes.

HFC Installation Process

The HFC installation process is designed to seamlessly integrate the existing cable infrastructure with new fiber optic technology. This transition requires specific steps to ensure the connection is established correctly and efficiently.

Visit our knowledge hub which goes further into the process of NBN Installations for Modem and Box setups.

I will advise though, that our readers often do come across HFC installation issues, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully and watch tutorial videos.

Preparing for Installation

Before the installation begins, the homeowner should verify that there is an existing pay TV or cable network outlet. This outlet will be used to connect the new HFC network.

The area around the outlet should be cleared to provide easy access for technicians or for individuals opting for self-installation.

They should also ensure that there is a power outlet nearby to power the modem.

The Self-Installation Option

Some customers may have the option to perform self-installation if their provider supports it. This typically involves connecting a modem to an existing wall outlet using an Ethernet cable and following the provided instructions to activate the service.

The necessary equipment is usually mailed or provided in store to the homeowner prior to the installation appointment, along with detailed setup instructions.

If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you may incur a professional installation cost. That said, let’s discuss the PIK option.

Professional Installation Requirements

For those who require or prefer professional installation, an appointment with a certified technician will be necessary.

During this visit, the technician will install an nbn utility box if one is not already present, and make sure that the cable connections are properly set up and secured.

They will then connect the modem and ensure that the service activation process is completed successfully before leaving the premises.

Troubleshooting and Upgrading HFC Systems

Common HFC System Issues

Troubleshooting nbn HFC systems may happen from time to time, so it’s important you know how.

Complaints often pop up due to signal problems, which might manifest as intermittent connectivity or slow speeds.

You should ensure that the NBN HFC connections, including the coaxial fly lead, are not pinched, kinked, or sharply bent. Such issues with the cables can lead to signal degradation or complete loss.

Additionally, if an NBN connection box is in use, confirming that the power is connected properly and that the coaxial cable is securely attached is necessary.

I know it’s a basic step, but trust me, the old “turn it off then back on” does work a large majority of the time.

Indicators such as the status lights on the NBN box can provide immediate troubleshooting cues; if they are not solid or if certain lights are off, it may signal an issue with the HFC configuration or the line itself.

Upgrade Options in the HFC Network

Upgrading within an HFC network can significantly improve your internet performance.

Under the nbn Technology Choice Program, you can apply for a change to their connection type, such as upgrading to FTTP, which generally offers higher speeds and more reliability compared to HFC, FTTC, or FTTN configurations.

However, it’s important to note that the feasibility and costs associated with such upgrades can vary. So make sure you inquire first about the cost.

Alternatives To HFC

If you hate HFC, consider 5G Home Broadband as an option, it provides unlimited data at speeds typically faster than base nbn plans.

You also have the general mobile broadband options and Starlink as well. Overall, I strongly suggest you do your research around your needs.


  • David Everson

    Telecommunications & Technology enthusiast, I have worked multiple years in the telco and tech space, so have a strong passion towards delivering terrific insights.

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