NBN Hit Gigabit Speeds In Fixed Wireless Trials

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The fixed wireless component of the NBN has always trailed behind wired in both its speed and download limits, but the national broadband network company is taking some steps to address at least that first part. It's trialing carrier aggregation tech that can boost speeds far in excess of the current 50Mbps limit, using some of the same tech that already speeds up Telstra, Vodafone and Optus's commercial mobile networks.

Using carrier aggregation — basically bonding together different signals from varying frequencies — NBN has been able to hit 1.1Gbps download and 165Mbps upload speeds on a test portion of its fixed wireless network, although it's not clear whether those peak speeds were simultaneously achieved. That's over 20 times faster than the 50Mbps top speed tier of current fixed wireless plans on the NBN, although apparently 100Mbps plans are due later this year.

At the moment, Australia's telcos use a maximum of four frequencies for carrier aggregation on their mobile networks — that's what Telstra uses to achieve its 1Gbps download speeds with appropriately fast hardware. NBN used a grand total of eleven frequency bands across the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum bands that fixed wireless is delivered along.

It also took three wireless network termination devices (WNTDs) wired together to achieve the 1.1Gbps download speeds from the nearby NBN fixed wireless tower, so NBN will have to roll out updated NTD devices to any fixed wireless customers when and if it enables faster speeds across its footprint in the future.

The fact remains, though, that those speeds are impressive, and show the potential of a fixed wireless network backed up with a solid fibre backbone. Don't expect to see them in the real world any time in the future, but it's an indication at least that the folks at NBN do realise that network speeds need to be improved upon into the future.

From NBN:

nbn has achieved ground breaking gigabit (Gbps) speeds in a Fixed Wireless demonstration conducted in Ballarat, Victoria. Using its 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum, the company continues to demonstrate its focus on providing technology to meet today's demands while ensuring a strong path of development and upgrades to meet Australia's future data demands.

nbn achieved the stunning 1.1Gbps downstream and 165Mbps upstream speeds by using Carrier Aggregation technology that fused seven carriers in the 3.4GHz spectrum band and four carriers in the 2.3GHz spectrum band. As part of the demonstration nbn also delivered trial peak speeds of 400Mbps/55Mbps, 250Mbps/50Mbps and 100/40Mbps, all delivered using a range of carriers in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum bands.

The 1.1Gbps speed was achieved by bonding together three next generation Wireless Network Termination Devices (WNTDs) – the antennae located on the roof of a nearby school - while the other speeds were all achieved via a single WNTD. The high speed trial was conducted with our Fixed Wireless technology partner Ericsson along with NetComm Wireless and Qualcomm while the speed tests were conducted with technology from Mill Software.

In order to conduct the trial nbn used a spare operating sector on an established nbn Fixed Wireless tower and installed additional radio equipment. nbn has already committed to launching a new nbn100 Fixed Wireless product aimed at the regional business segment in 2018 and the success of its ultra-fast Fixed Wireless demonstration underlines the company's ability to launch even faster services on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network.

[NBN]

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