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NBN Co to deploy 5G in the bush

NBN Co to deploy 5G in the bush

  • 2016-03-02

The national broadband network will deploy next-generation 5G technology for internet users in rural and regional Australia, according to Liberal frontbench MP Paul Fletcher.

Mr Fletcher will make the announcement as part of a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai on Thursday, as a replacement for NBN chief executive Bill Morrow, who was unable to attend due to a death in the family.

The 5G systems are set to be commercially released by 2020 with the promise of 10 gigabit per second downloads speeds, near-zero signal lower lag times for things such as driverless cars and super-low battery consumption.

It comes as a report co-commissioned by NBN and funded by its supplier Ericsson claimed that the $41 billion project was delivering the fastest commercial fixed-wireless internet services in the world.

"A new research report from Ovum … shows that NBN's fixed-wireless service is a world leader in terms of speeds, data allowances and pricing," Mr Fletcher is expected to say. "It will be crucial to demonstrate that the fixed wireless network … has a pathway to higher speeds.

"That is the pathway that 5G offers."
Around 4 per cent of Australian homes and businesses in outer suburban, rural and regional areas will get fixed-wireless internet service because they are too expensive to reach via fibre-optic cabling.

But where fixed-line services can eventually be upgraded using new standards and technology, Mr Fletcher said the wireless service would hit a ceiling at around 50Mbps unless new investments were made in 5G.

"Right now fixed-wireless can deliver 50Mbps on the NBN – and it could go marginally higher – but substantial speed increases will only really be possible with the arrival of 5G," Mr Fletcher will say. "So, although it is still some way off 5G can clearly help NBN deliver even better services to regional Australians – and stay as a world leader in delivering fixed-wireless services."

5G has been touted by many telecommunications experts as the key technology that will let the majority of people cut the chord and become wireless-only phone and internet users.

Depending on what the standards become, it could also be powerful enough to allow NBN to convert its wireless towers into a fully fledged mobile network for the bush that would compete against the incumbent, Telstra.

But sources close to the Minister's office insisted that NBN's only plan for 5G was to use it and give established homes and businesses faster speeds, rather than mobile services.

Although it is still some way off 5G can clearly help NBN deliver even better services to regional Australians.
Paul Fletcher, MP

Questions also remain as to how the fixed-wireless network would be funded. The current network and its satellite-based sibling will cost $5.2 billion by 2021 and are loss-makers for the NBN because there are not enough customers to pay for the construction and operation costs.

Any move to upgrade technology could cost billions of dollars more and make it even harder for the networks to turn a profit.(from briesbanetimes)

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