Joe Hockey: 4G Will Outpace The NBN

Here we go again. Delimiter is reporting comments made by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, saying that he believes 4G networks are far superior to the technology behind the National Broadband Network (NBN). Also, he uses a wireless iPad, you guys.

Also: Australian 4G Frequencies Explained [Updated]

Hockey told ABC Radio that 4G is the future, not fibre to the home, while reciting the same old chestnut that wireless devices like the iPad are demonstrating the people's demand for wireless networks, rather than the fibre.

"4G has the capacity to be far superior to the NBN," Hockey said, before saying making his case for wireless devices:

"I don’t know about you but I use an iPad. The iPad I carry around in the car, I don’t have a cable dragging behind the car. I use wireless technology and I think that’s the way that functionality is going."


As we know from watching the performance of telcos like Telstra and Vodafone, network speed, latency and overall performance depend on just how many people are using the network at the one time. 4G might be great now, but throw a few million more people onto it at once and see how you go.

You just need to pull into a train station at peak hour or wander into a CBD food court at lunchtime to see how bad network congestion really is.

Delimiter does a good job of poking considerable holes in Hockey's other arguments. Well worth a read. [Delimiter]



    4G will (eventually) be faster than the NBN, but will not work in rural areas. the concept behind the NBN (correct me if i'm wrong) is to give everyone access to an adequate speeds of internet as opposed to 4G which will give some people access to super-fast internet.

      You better be a troll
      Wireless, even if you had the radio density required for all people every where adds massive lattency which is the biggest problem

      That and 4g is not even close to 10gb Ethernet fibre can punch out. That's 10 x 1024 mb.

        Stupid 4g device 10 x 1024 mb x 1024 gb as 4g is only 7x 1024mb it is

          Stupid wireless device is unable to let me post this correctly. Argument over

            24mb is 4g at its best fibre is 1024mb x 10 which is limited by end point hardware. Ask a major business like defence to connect over 4g only and watch it melt

          Wireless should be the way to move forward for Australia especially the 700mhz is release. The monies invest on NBN spending on expanding 4G should better off for every one on wireless technology. Wireless has also niche, fast deployment.

            Wireless is the icing, NBN is the cake. Think about it...

              Yeah, its going to be incredible to have both when they're done. Together they will act as an exceptional platform for next generation technologies to take off from and will allow for a ton of growth in the Australian technology department.

              Think about it. Servers hosted directly off a fiber pipe, feeding data by fiber pipe to mobile devices grabbing data packets from 4G towers. That's a revolutionary infrastructure combination and I cant wait to use it.

      Sort of... except that cable will always be able to be a lot faster that any wireless alternative.
      That's not rhetoric, it's just physics.

        And for my mobile business????????????????????????????? Yeah, useless!!!!!

      4G will only be faster than the NBN's current speeds up until NBN Co opens up faster speeds by simply replacing the equipment at either end of the fibre cable in the POIs. The actual fibre cable doesn't need to be replaced. Fixed-line infrastructure has always been faster and more reliable than the wireless infrastructure available at any point in time. This is due to the basic principles of physics. I don't see these fundamentally changing any time soon... But if they do and it makes all technology better then I'm all for it. Until then, roll on NBN, roll on!

      blue: The NBN 4G argument is like saying an apple is tastier than the tree. Without the NBN 4G wont work. I have a router/modem at home, maybe you do, it provides both wireless and cable connections for my notebook and desktop PC's. However, both the wireless and cable connected PC's access the Internet through the router/modem, down my copper wire phone line. The future phone line will be the glass fibre NBN. You may have noticed that when you connect more people on your home wireless network the performance degrades which is exactly what happens with 3G, 4G, whateverG.
      If a provider is prepared to pay for a 4G mast in your neighbourhood you'll get 4G for your mobiles etc. that are within range but guess what the 4G mast will be connected to; you guessed it, the NBN.

        Are the Telco's 3/4G networks running off the NBN? I didn't know that. I'm not convinced that is actually the case. That's like saying the current Optus and Vodafone networks actually run off common data network up to the tower.

          No telco's aren't but it is a possibility for areas where a telco has limited capacity, not necessarily on the NBN but maybe lease fibre backhaul

      Blue, it is physically impossible to supply everyone's data needs through the air, there is not enough frequency to do so. This is not an argument, this is a fact, I wish the Libs would start using some facts.

      Wireless cannot match the speeds of the fibre optic network of the NBN, you cannot beat the speed of light. The plan the liberals talk about is exactly that give the rural and remote areas wireless. The NBN though is more of a backbone network.

      The difference between the two NBN plans Liberal and Labor was that the Liberal would still build the fibre optic network but not as big and offer wireless NBN as a backbone to the larger areas not covered by fibre in their plan. The only issue is that mobile providers will still build the 4G networks for phones and mobile devices.

      So while a vast majority of people will be able to connect to the fibre optic network there will be a percentage in remote areas that will connect using wireless tech.

      There will always be these 4G and 5G and future wireless networks, they will exist, the demand is there. They will benefit though from having the fibre backbone in more places.

      I think the joke here is that the iPad cannot connect to the 4G networks that have been built in Australia so far as they use different technology.

      Maybe Joe should pay Apple's $2.25M fine to the ACCC.

        Please separate speed(latency) from speed (throughput)

        Wireless travels at the speed of light as an FYI.

        Wireless since it has limited spectrum it can use will have slower throughput then fiber. But amusingly can have faster latency then fiber as there is often less hops (eg devices) on the path. Each device increases latency by quite a bit.

        You do realise that RF energy travels at the speed of light, don't you? It's got nothing to do with the speed of light, it's the capacity of the network, the equipment at the end of the cables. Electrons flow through the copper network at the speed of light too (well, close enough), yet it has a limit.

          You'll find that latency doesnt depend on the speed of the signal media but on the successful delivery of data packets. Wireless signals are complex algorithms across a wide band of signal frequencies across an insecure media that is highly prone to interference and leads to unstable signals and signal loss. wireless signlas operate over such a wide bandwidth to enable signal hopping and redundancy. signals ssent over cable media are secure and well insulated from outside interference and because of this generally have much lower latency results.

      4G will (eventually) be faster than the NBN is currently, as long as as many people as possible stay off of the 4G networks. Say by using their WIFI when they are home, WiFi that is connected to some sort of fibre optic network that runs directly into their home.

      Wireless networks (3G, 4G, 5G, whateverG) are always going to be a supplement to fast wired networks.

      No one is saying that wireless tech will not play a big part in future computing, its just that the wireless that most people will be connecting to will be connected to a fiber modem in their home /office and not to some tower, Km's away...

        Indeed, LTE Advanced will theoretically be able to reach beyond 100Mbps, if you're the only one in your cell, though usable downloads speeds will be half that (as with wi-fi). That's much faster than the NBN's cheapest consumer rate of 12 Mbps - unless of course a dozen nearby people also want to share those frequencies.

        But it doesn't come close to the 1,000 Mbps rates that the NBN offers right now, today to those who are willing to pay the extra, like businesses. Nor will it ever hold a candle to the 4 Gbps and 16 Gbps planned upgrade speeds, let alone the thousands of gigabits per second that fibre is capable of (without even advancing today's technology).

          Exactly. Wireless capability is increasing exponentially, but so is the capability of wired. Wired is ten years and an order of magnitude ahead of wireless, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

      Fiber NBN will give people access to super fast internet, not 4G.
      1000mb/sec on the NBN equals 1000mb/sec
      100mb/sec on the NBN equals 100mb/sec

      4G will never be faster then the NBN, and as more people take it up, it will most likely come to resemble current 3g services.

      40mb/sec on 4G= 40mb/sec divided by the number of users.

        "1000mb/sec on the NBN equals 1000mb/sec
        100mb/sec on the NBN equals 100mb/sec"
        Not quite, GPON - as used by the NBN - employs TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) which splits the access on the fibre into "time slots" kind of like time share; and can be devided up into 32 or more splits all the way upto 128 splits.

        If we labled houses from A-Z, then your data slotting works like this: ABCDEFG...XYZABCDEFG.... and so on; each one getting fair use.

        Now if everyone on the fibre with a 32 way split (I don't know if NBN is limiting the number of splits or not) is using the fibre at once (downloads, youtube, streaming, skype , on the telephone etc.) then your 1000Mb/s becomes 31.25Mb/s at max theoretical rate or 7.81Mb/s if split 128 ways.

        So that 1000Mb/s link won't provide 1000Mb/s unless you're the first on the link and cut the wire for anyone else below you.

        4G, much like the GPON can also be deployed in multiple ways, for example: if you used microcell LTE in high density areas with a range of 100 cubic metres each cell, with a microcell every 100 meters, femtocells and pico for 10m+ etc in buildings and assumed that there would be 5 people concurrently connected every 100 cubic meters (on the XYZ axis because of high-rise) and assumed that in the next few years that LTE is deployed to the current possible spec of 300Mb/s, then your LTE download rate could be 60Mb/s (theoretical, just like NBN).

        As you go out into the less dense areas, macro cells could be employed to cover 5, 30 and 100Sq KM (on the XY axis only because of no or limited high-rise) or more, and still provide similar bandwidth due to the lowering concurrent users at each distance.

        Getting into the remote areas, it makes sense to use satelite where there will be a much lower density.

        However, the releasing of the much lower frequency analog TV spectrum to also extend the land based deployment further.

          Actually current NBN is max 32 per node being fed by 2.5Gb, All 32 @ 100/40 running at max download is still >70Mb. Very unlikely scenario

      Check out the roll out plan and the coverage maps. Don't be fooled, do you really think that the majority of rural users are going to get connected to Fibre any time soon. NBN co is rolling out Fixed Wireless and talking about it in the same way they talk about fibre. I wonder what the NBN pundits will say when they are outside the blurry Fibre footprint and are dumped onto Fixed Wireless at much slower speeds. It is appropriate to compare 4G to NBN (Fixed Wireless).

        No one is being "dumped" anywhere. You can look up right NOW if you will get fibre or not. And fixed wireless at 12Mbps is considerably better than the majority of rural users can get now. Not all of them, but most of them.

        This is the point of the NBN. Ubiquitous, basic access and near ubiquitous high-speed access (93%). NBNCo. will also roll fibre out to some areas through their "Fibre extension Program" through cross-subsidies with councils/communities, to areas who wouldn't have got it otherwise. I would not be surprised to see close to 95% fibre coverage by the end of the rollout.

      For one, NBN is capable of 1000Mbps, far FAR faster than 4G, also do you see the issues with 3G / HSPA at the moment? Congestion? This will happen again on 4G and maybe even worse (since more people will flock to it) wireless is ONLY good for people that HAVE to be on the move and that SHOULD be the minority, NOT the majority to HELP minimize congestion.

    *Sigh* When will the Liberals take a simple IT course?

    Sounds to me like Joe Hockey thinks his "iPad with 4G" is connected to a 4G network while he drives around in his car without a cable dragging behind it....

    Man, that's a really bad advertisement for an ipad user...
    Joe Hockey also believes his sperm is magical and with it he can raise an army of tiny goblin people to take over thw worrrrrld!

      Because every one uses an iPad. Except for corporate apps and home/work use not to mention the cost of 4g data

    If the 4G towers are all connected to a fibre back-end, how can they ever be faster than a direct fibre connection?

    Being a network engineer specializing in wireless i can say that Joe may be correct.
    the next g network operates using 850mhz using roughly 50mhz(cant get the exact frequency range) of this with old hardware they can support roughly 42mbps under ideal situations.

    If telstra made us of a 200mhz channel and used smaller cell sizes eg more towers not covering so larger distances (think of how fm handles it by cutting signal at a certain point) then they can easily scale up the tower density at congested points while offering 100mbps speeds. The same thing happens in large corporate environments with wifi 2.4ghz has only 60mhz of frequency but people can have many thousands of people using is simultaneously by cleaver planning and making certain that there are no overlapping channels (and these people are all getting 100mbp/s+)

    There is also exponential return (with regards to speed) on frequency space eg 200mhz over 50mhz especially with new tech. Cost is a large factor though in getting that much low frequency space.

    When talking about latency, remember that wireless travels at the speed of light, so ideally (eg no congestion) there should be no reason why it is slower (latency wise ) then fiber. With regards to actual throughput it will be inferior to fiber which has a much larger dedicated amount of frequency (eg light frequency) to play with inside the fiber itself.

    Anyways not saying it will be cost effective to do etc or that nbn is a bad idea (i happen to like it) but just thought i would give some useful information about this.

      Just a little floor to your idea. Your saying that with a 200mhz channel and more towers you could get 100mbs. Wouldn't need more power to do that, we are trying to cut down on power use to use fibre its uses heaps less then a wireless idea. Plus what about the idea of having eye sores massive towers all over the place then the idea people will keep thinking that it will be affecting their health not sure about this but can promise you that people would bring that up.

      "Being a network engineer specializing in wireless"....

      My God. I hope you are kidding. Say those things at a job interview with me and it will be "Bye bye. Don't let the door hit you in the arse on your way out."

      Though I am sure there are lots of positions on the Liberal NBN review group suited to you.

    Joe Hockey should leave the NBN discussion to his colleague Malcolm Turnbull, at least he understands the situation better.

    this seems on par with the circus side show that is current australian politics. no clue, no idea, no brain!!

    i think it should be mandatory that if a politician is to speak on a subject that is outside of their portfolio, maybe they should be sent on a short course to school them with the subject before they open their fat money grubbing cake holes.

    Are you going to link to Joe Hockey's response to delimiters biased and inaccurate article on what he actually said??

    Just you know, to keep the balance right on these things

      Very interesting, good to see Hockey's reasonable response.

      Only trouble is that I don't think there's any way for any upcoming government to get out of spending the money they said they'd spend - may as well get an NBN out of it!

      "For many households, wireless broadband has the capacity to be superior to fibre to the premises (FTTP) in the broader sense of value for money, convenience, nearness of availability/deployment and many of the numerous other attributes that a consumer might consider when weighing these alternatives."

      I completely disagree with that argument, and it is my opinion that for a "household" a fixed line solution is always going to be better.

      If you have an iPad, a desktop PC and a gaming console for example then explain how 4G would be more convenient, and better value for money?

        Heh to add to that, guess what? You're house isn't moving, so hell, you may as well have a cable hooked up to it ay? Just imagine the sheer amount of wireless noise hooking everyone up to wireless would cause. Can't be good for you health.

        So, in what attributes would a household consumer commonly consider wireless "superior"?
        Price? Nope.
        Speed? Nope.
        Quota? Nope.
        Reliability? Nope.
        Security? Nope.
        Availability? Not so much if your house is in a valley.
        Convenience? Possibly, in a few specific cases.
        Value for money? Really?
        "Nearness of availability"? I guess he means, "the NBN hasn't rolled out yet." So yes, wireless beats the NBN hands-down, because the NBN doesn't exist yet :rolleyes:

          Actually for the very low user mobile data can be cheaper than a fixed line. For example I have a 1GB per month data pack on Amaysim prepaid for $10/month. For browsing sites it's fine: fast enough, I don't go through the quota, it's available virtually everywhere I've tried it, etc. The minimum cost for a fixed line connection is about $50/month when taking into account the phone line rental and ADSL (or even dialup) cost, and this minimum will continue with NBN.

          Of course the more people on wireless will make it less useable (reading of comments suggests more than a few places this has already happened). I do have ADSL2+ at home for the higher quota, speed, etc, but mobile data the only option for many people.

        So in my household I have a wireless modem. No fixed devices. Three laptops, one iPad and three smartphones and a wireless media centre/entertainment system. Tell me how fibre to my modem will advantage me? There aren't any faster speed wireless modems out there, so fibre to my door is useless to my home. Plus running a mobile business, I can't use my expensively placed fibre cable in my wall now, can I? And because of this government, I won't have a choice to stay with my IP and current service.

          802.11ac and successors. You still get mobile broadband and when analogue TV is turned off, that may improve further with the NBN as a backbone. NBN will resell to providers. Capiche?

          Are you saying that because you have wifi Fibre will be no use?

          Standard maximum fibre maximum throughput: 100Mbps
          Maximum theoretical Wireless-N throughput: 300Mbps

          I don't see how this is a limiting factor dear sir.

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      The Boofhead's response is rubbish. A case in point is what are "sustainable broadband" and "technology-agnostic approach to upgrading broadband" but some spin pulling comfortable sounding words together. And his comment that "FTTP NBN will not contribute to economic productivity" shows little vision and less understanding.

      If you take a look at his response to the "biased and inaccurate article" from Delimiter, you will find he actually does NOT cover directly ANY points that Delimiter brings up.

      For example, he says in the original interview " At the moment to connect from your home to the NBN and wire your home and go through the process can cost a $1,000, can cost a lot more and people haven’t got that discretionary sum available."

      Then, in his "you've taken me out of context" response states: "Hard data from FTTP installations such as Verizon’s rollout to 17 million households in the US suggest that in-the-home costs (that is costs above and beyond the ONT, such as connecting and testing existing CPE and set-top boxes) account for up to 20% of the costs of the rollout....This is verified by industry reports of Telstra’s experience in South Brisbane, which suggest it is taking two technicians half a day to finalise the cutover from copper to fibre."

      These 2 points are NOT the same. In the interview, he states it may cost the end user $1000 to wire up their home for the NBN. When Delimiter takes exception to this, he then states no no, I meant it's going to cost $1000 or more for the changeover from the copper to the NBN during the install- this is supposedly covered by NBNCo., but I can't see where. If Joe had ACTUALLY understood the rollout at all, he would know that the "testing of the CPE" (or customer premises equipment in non-acronym speak) is not relevant. The Network Termination Unit (NTU) is DESIGNED so all the customer does is plug in an ethernet cable to the NTU, as they would with a cable modem and it will work as soon as the service is connected. The GPON USES ethernet, so its' backwards compatible with any router, modem (acting as a router) or ordinary NIC for a laptop or PC. The "changeover" he talks about is free if you opt in. That is clearly stated by NBNCo. and has been built into the Corporate Plan.

      I'm all for being balanced and fair. But if the person being "misquoted" is going to try and spin his response to make it LOOK like he was saying something else, sorry, I'm not interested.

    Lets appply the same thinking to the NBN, Its not past my house so it will never be past my house. Is Luke saying that just because now there is congestion on 4G its always going to be the same

    I know people here in downtown Armidale who would rather go to the old dialup modem of an afternoon as it seems faster and does not drop out as much as a Telstra Wireless broadband service.

    Once again, the LNP shoots themsevles in the foot. 4G won't be faster than Fibre as Fibre is up to how many Gb per second now? and 4G is up to what again...about 100Mb per second at the very most? Um...if I'm right...WTF? Naturally if you continue to use the 100Mb limit that they currently have set for houses, then yes 4G could but all you have to do is change some hardware over and BANG. 1GB per second, 100GB per second and a lot higher using the same tube.

    LNP has to keep the NBN as a policy otherwise they will lose seats that they could easily win if they kept the NBN.

      Indeed: even using the entire radio spectrum - currently used for radio/TV broadcast, communications, weather radar, etc, etc - still has the smallest fraction of what a single fibre strand can carry. And with the NBN 93% of premises in Australia will get three! So that's an infinity times what a pure wireless-only solution can provide.

    another instance of politicians spouting their opinions on things they know little about, as facts

    How incredibly embarrassing for the Liberals. Good.

    So he is saying what all Australians really need is 4G when we use our iPads whilst sitting in the back of our chauffeured limousines? Damn straight!! Hit the nail on the head with that one Hockey.
    I can't wait to see my first iPad glued to a car window being used as a GPS now that iOS6 has turn by turn navigation.

    Interesting logic Hockey. I can also drive my car around without a petrol pump connected to it.

    So why do we need petrol stations?

    It would be nice if the politicians had some knowledge on the difference between wireless and fibre/ethernet. It's not just about speed, its about a number of factors that effect the service ie. latency, environmental factors etc. It all comes down to them being in Telstra's pocket!

    4G might be *one day* capable of surpassing todays NBN speeeds. Lets go 5 years into the future, 4G is 100mbit (but you'll never get that because your whole suburb is on one tower), NBN is 1gbit, with the actual ability to deliver 1gbit.... Hockey - you lose!

    Who needs the NBN 'or' 4G when you have a router at home that you can connect to wirelessly!


      What does that wireless connection to the Internet use? Curently it will be using 3G, 4G is the next one up from what you are using. Think please

        Eh? He's talking about Wi-Fi... Learn to read Baz

    HAHAHA.. Hey Luke, you do realise that the NBN will have the same slow down as 4G, and speeds are numbers of users dependent... Same as 4G.. Knob.

      Slight difference, 32max customers per node, currently fed by 2.5Gb fibre, input readily upgradeable Passive node does not need upgrading nor does cust equip. designed for 1Gb anyway. Work it out yourself

        As Abel says, incorrect. Customers on the NBN, even ALL running at full speed, will get close to 80Mbps. And the likelihood of all 32 users connected to teh one hub using full 100Mbps service is slim.

        On 4G, simply having 50 people on a cell will drop your speed from, say 45Mbps to 40Mbps. And there's likely to be ALOT more than 50 people on a cell.

    I don't know if Joe's intentionally acting technologically incompetent just to tow the party line, or if he really somehow believes what he's saying.

    How the hell would any CBD, populated with 100s of skyscrapers, each filled with 100s of offices all requiring high-speed data connections *possibly* be handled entirely by the wireless spectrum?

    And what about the very real threat of someone parking a van with a high-powered wireless jammer inside, disrupting 100s of businesses? Or if the US President visits & his CIA bodyguards block all wireless signals so no one can trigger remote explosives? Going to piss off a lot of businesses just because Prez is in town. You can't jam fibre.

    Why is it that you don't seem to need any knowledge of network infrastructure, data communication or basic physics to be in a position of authority when it comes to commenting on core fundamental country-wide infrastructure decisions?

    Yes we need high-speed wireless, but what good is that without a solid ultra-fast backbone connecting the country & OS? The Liberal's unwavering stance of "4G is all we need, fibre bad" in the face of overwhelming professional & scientific evidence to the contrary INFURIATES me.

      Joe says "4G has the capacity to be far superior to a fixed broadband service such as Labor’s NBN." O rly? How? Unqualified statements like this have no place in discussion. Even the most basic research of "max fibre speeds vs max wireless speeds" destroy his statement. And why mention Labor? If Labor suggests something & it makes perfect logical sense, then do the Liberals still have to say it's bad just because they're the opposition & it's their job to oppose things? Is it like Holden vs Ford?

      Fibre/cable is ALWAYS going to be faster than wireless. I have gigabit wired ethernet at home, but can only get a theoretical max speed of 450Mbps using 802.11n *if* my PC is right next to my wireless router & no other devices are using that spectrum. Cable/fibre wins.

      Weather/atmospheric conditions affect wireless signals. Hooray for a economy that only runs on a sunny day. Fibre is not affected by weather/atmospheric conditions.

      Let's say a new building is constructed between your office & your primary base tower. So long internet? Would city planning & building zoning need to introduce considerations of 4G availability? Fibre is not affected by line-of-sight obstructions.

      I know! Idiot users run the world!

    4G wont be faster than fiber.
    1. Its incorrect to state a wireless high-level protocol stack primarily for delivering content to mobile subscribers can be faster than a physical transmission media.
    2. "4G" peak single subscriber optimum conditions is 100/50 and has yet to be expanded upon despite some proprietary implementations outlining otherwise. Fiber speeds are standardized above 10gbps.
    3. Using an ipad actually makes you dumber.
    4. Jo hockey is LAME!

    This is the very same facile argument that Joe "Boofhead" Hockey made 3 years ago against the NBN: that because the connection speed to his iPad appears to be adequate no person/business/entity/organisation could possibly have a need for fast, reliable service.

    Sadly the hoi polloi may well believe him.

    The guy is an idiot user. When will these people learn not to open their mouths on technical issues.

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