NBN nails down fixed wireless higher-speed tiers

Rapidly growing digital backbone of Australia reveals tiers for FWA services with universally available option offering 100-130 Mbps download speed and upload speed of 8-20 Mbps

Australia’s national broadband network (NBN) has revealed it is to introduce two wholesale higher-speed tiers for its fixed wireless network.

The organisation 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.

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. It uses a mix of technologies across its network, and FWA currently covers almost 650,000 premises across Australia. By the end of 2024, the company expects to see up to 120,000 homes and businesses in its satellite footprint gain FWA access for the first time.

In December 2022, NBN and Ericsson announced a 10-year partnership to undertake a network upgrade which saw the global communications technology provider become the sole supplier of 4G and 5G radio access and microwave services in the network.

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

Almost a year ago, NBN received investment worth AUS $480m from the Australian government to 5G-enable fixed wireless, deliver faster speeds to regional Australia and allow the company to implement a new measure to indicate the network’s capability to achieve a typical wholesale busy-period fixed download speed of at least 50 Mbps.

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The outcome of the consultation is that NBN will introduce two new wholesale higher-speed tiers for the NBN fixed wireless network: NBN Fixed Wireless Home Fast and NBN Fixed Wireless Home Superfast. The former is expected to be available to all of the expanded fixed wireless coverage area, and be capable of delivering a wholesale peak information rate of 100–130 Mbps download speed and an upload speed of 8-20 Mbps. The latter is expected to be available to approximately 85% of the expanded fixed wireless coverage area and be capable of delivering a wholesale peak information rate of 200-325 Mbps download speed and an upload speed of 8-20 Mbps.

“We are pleased to have finalised our consultation with internet providers and consumer advocacy groups on the design of the high-speed tiers for NBN fixed wireless,” said Jason Ashton, NBN executive general manager for fixed wireless and satellite. “It is an important step to ensure we get the products and features right before we launch them.

“By introducing new high-speed tiers for fixed wireless, we are clearing the way for more people in Australia to experience the power and capability of the NBN network.”

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