Australia’s NBN Abandons Plans for 100Mb/sec Fixed Wireless Access; Telstra testing “5G” vs Verizon’s Plans?

In sharp contrast to Verizon’s claim of delivering (fake) “5G” broadband wireless access in the U.S. this year, Australia’s NBN Co.has abandoned plans to provide 100Mbps broadband plans for fixed wireless customers.  Last month, we wrote about state owned NBN’s FTTC plans, but there was no mention of fixed broadband wireless access.

“We killed it,” NBN boss Bill Morrow told a Senate Estimates committee. Mr Morrow said consistently achieving 100 Mb/sec would cost “billions and billions of dollars” — an Australia taxpayer spend he described as “outrageous.”

“The economics … [start] to actually break apart to a point where it doesn’t make any sense.  It would just never happen” Morrow added.  “There is no economic model that would work … [especially when] it’s hard to find applications that warrant the need for 100 Mb/sec.”

Mr Morrow said at peak times of the day — for example, in an evening when people stream video — 100 Mb/sec speeds could not be consistently maintained.

More than 230,000 households are currently NBN fixed wireless customers, the committee heard, with the rollout of nearly 2,000 cell towers costing $AUS 2 billion to date.   Australia’s fixed wireless network has struggled with congestion, with speeds in some areas less than what the average Turkish internet user enjoyed in 2012.

Morrow said NBN is trialing “5G” ahead of the commercial launch, but he didn’t provide details of which “5G” technology would be used.


Telstra is currently trialing 5G on Australia’s Gold Coast using mmWave.  It has achieved speeds of roughly 3,000 Mbps.  Telstra has committed to making 5G available in all major capital cities and regional areas over the course of that year. But that will be limited to key metro areas.

To put that in context, the fastest speed offered to nearly all Australians by the NBN is 100 M bit/sec. So that means 5G could be 30x faster than the NBN top speed tier – 100 M bit/sec.  Approximately 6.3 million Australian homes are able to connect to the NBN network today and that number should rise significantly over the next couple of years.


Author’s Note:

Neither this author or AT&T is encouraged by Verizon’s plan to deploy “5G” mmWave band, fixed broadband access in the U.S. this year using its propriety V5GTF specification.

AT&T’s CFO John Stephens said on the mega telco’s last quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts: “We’re not as excited about the (5G fixed wireless) business case—it’s not as compelling yet, for us, as it may be for some.”

AT&T believes it might be more effective to simply deliver very high speed internet services via its growing fiber network via FTTP.

“To get that fixed wireless to the residential, you still have to have backhaul from where the 1,000 feet away to the 1,500 feet away, and you still have to have that backhaul infrastructure. So that could be, depending upon your ability to successfully pick who is going to buy, and how much you’re going to need, it’s going to be a very tricky business case,” Stephens explained. “For us, with this extensive fiber network, we will be able to have that backhaul. With this extensive FirstNet network, we’ll be able to have that backhaul. But quite frankly, if we’ve got FirstNet and we’ve got fiber there, it may be just as effective, and may be a better quality product, to give those customers fiber to the home.

“So, we’re continuing to work at it, I just don’t want to hold it out as a—right now, as you can tell, we are more excited about our FirstNet opportunity, about our fiber opportunities that we’re building and selling into that. And quite frankly, about the overall 5G Evolution and 5G capabilities in our overall mobility network, serving much of the mobile broadband demands that are out there.”

AT&T has promised to launch mobile “standards based (?) 5G” services in a dozen cities by the end of this year. The carrier has said that its so-called “5G Evolution” markets offer advanced LTE technologies that pave the way for its “5G” service(s).

On its 1st quarter 2018 earnings call, Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said that Verizon had shown propagation “over 2,000 feet,” for the 28GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) technology it will use for its 5G fixed wireless service which has been announced for Sacramento and Los Angeles, CA before the end of this year.

In January of this year, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams stated:  “we’re very comfortable with being able to deliver a Gigabit of service to everyone that we’re providing (5G fixed broadband) service to,” when the company launches its 5G fixed wireless service in the U.S. this year.


NBN’s killing of their much lower speed (100Mb/sec) fixed wireless service and AT&T CFO’s comments on the lack of a business case especially considering the need for fiber backhaul, caste a lot of doubt on Verizon’s “5G” fixed broadband access plans.




2 thoughts on “Australia’s NBN Abandons Plans for 100Mb/sec Fixed Wireless Access; Telstra testing “5G” vs Verizon’s Plans?

  1. Alan Weissberger, thanks a lot for the post on NBN Australia killing their 100 Mb/sec broadband fixed wireless plans. Is that a warning sign for Verizon and others that are planning “5G”- like fixed wireless services to compete with cablecos/MSOs?

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