NBN Co, Ericsson team to transform fixed wireless access network

Ericsson and company that manages national broadband infrastructure in Australia announce new 10-year partnership to secure the supply of next-generation 5G technology that will deliver enhanced coverage and speed across the fixed wireless access portion of network

NBN Co and Ericsson have announced a new 10-year partnership to secure the supply of 5G technology that will deliver enhanced coverage and speed across the national broadband network (NBN) around Australia. This is an expansion of their existing business relationship that is expected to see up to 120,000 homes and businesses in the network operator’s satellite footprint gain access to its fixed wireless network (FWA) for the first time by the end of 2024.

The network is seen as the digital backbone of Australia and is designed to evolve constantly to keep communities and businesses connected. The purpose of the NBN is to lift the country’s digital capability by delivering reliable, fast, resilient and secure broadband over the wholesale access network, working collaboratively with internet retailers to deliver the required customer experience, reduce cost and drive industry efficiency and sustainability. The NBN uses a mix of technologies across its network, and FWA currently covers almost 650,000 premises across Australia.

NBN Co, the company that runs the NBN, was established in 2009 by the Commonwealth of Australia as a government business enterprise (GBE) with a clear direction – to design, build and operate a wholesale broadband access network for Australia. The new partnership will see Ericsson become the sole supplier of 4G and 5G radio access and microwave transport systems. These include Ericsson’s 4G and 5G antenna-integrated radios across NBN’s current and future spectrum bands and the latest Massive MIMO solutions that provide best-in-class performance and energy efficiency in a lightweight small footprint form factor.

The scope also includes Ericsson’s 5G millimetre wave (mmWave) technology, the latest RAN processor for 4G and 5G, and Mini-Link microwave transport such as dual carrier systems in traditional frequency bands, all outdoor E-band and long-haul. 

Ericsson’s extended-range innovation is designed to enable NBN Co to extend its fixed wireless network cell range from 14km to 29km, resulting in an expansion of the NBN fixed wireless footprint by up to 50%. 

Using a combination of software enhancements and 4G and 5G technologies, including 5G in NBN’s mmWave spectrum band, the upgrade programme also aims to uplift the capability of the fixed wireless network to support higher speed tiers, resulting in a dramatically improved customer experience. Importantly, the new infrastructure will also support a future upgrade from 4G to 5G for NBN’s existing mmWave spectrum bands.

Ericsson says the 120,000 new homes and businesses expected to gain access to its FWA network for the first time will be added to the more than 650,000 premises currently covered across Australia. This will also deliver performance benefits to customers remaining on the satellite network. The new deal also includes a joint commitment to develop and evolve NBN Co’s fixed wireless use case, which is said to pave the way for greater opportunities for regional businesses and individuals to gain greater value from NBN Co’s FWA network.

“Our network is the digital backbone of Australia, and it is constantly evolving as we help to keep communities, businesses and all areas of society connected, and our nation productive,” said Jason Ashton, NBN executive general manager for fixed wireless and satellite. “Investing in 5G mmWave is a part of our commitment to evolve the NBN fixed wireless network for future needs and continually enhance customer experience.

“We are committed to maximising the performance of both our fixed wireless and satellite networks, and our work with Ericsson will help benefit the more than one million homes and businesses covered by these networks across Australia.”

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