NBN To Double Broadband Speeds For Regional Australia

NBN's Fixed Wireless towers are delivering metro broadband speeds beyond the major cities. Image: NBN

Australians living off the beaten track are getting broadband speeds to rival the cities, with 100 Mbps Fixed Wireless NBN services scheduled to launch across the country early next year.

Demonstrated in the Victorian regional city of Ballarat this week, the service offers 100 Mbps download speeds and 40 Mbps uploads -- the speed boost coming thanks to new carrier aggregation technology which bonds multiple channels to create a single high-speed connection.

The new speed tier will be available in Fixed Wireless NBN areas across the country, as it does not require a network upgrade or changes to the Fixed Wireless towers. The improved speeds won't extend the range of Fixed Wireless, which remains limited to within 14 km of a tower.

To take advantage of the new 100 Mbps plans, existing Fixed Wireless customers will need to upgrade their on-premises Wireless Network Terminal Device. The new 100 Mbps-capable Wireless NTDs – developed by Ericsson, NetComm and Qualcomm – will eventually become standard issue for all new Fixed Wireless installations, although there is potential for further speed boosts down the track.

Initially only offering 12/1 Mbps speeds when it launched in 2011, today the Fixed Wireless NBN service is available to almost 500,000 premises across Australia – with almost 170,000 users currently accessing speeds up to 50/20 Mbps.

Remote premises beyond the reach of the Fixed Wireless footprint rely on NBN's SkyMuster satellite service, although the latest data reveals that more than 4000 urban premises across Australia may be shunted across to the satellite service. SkyMuster only offers 25/5 Mbps plans, which are more expensive than the plans available via other NBN technologies.

While Fixed Wireless relies on similar 4G LTE technologies to those used by mobile broadband services, it can only be accessed by a fixed antenna on the roof and is not available to mobile devices.

In return Fixed Wireless aims to offer a more reliable service than mobile broadband, with more control over the number of users and less network congestion during peak times.

Fixed Wireless NBN towers operate in clusters, connected to a central tower via microwave links. This central tower connects via fibre to an NBN Point of Interconnection – typically located at a telephone exchange. Around 20 percent of the nation's 2600 Fixed Wireless NBN towers are connected via fibre.

To cope with the increased load of 100/40 Mbps connections, the NBN anticipates increasing the fibre capacity to some towers and replacing some microwave links with fibre. Over time it also intends to decreases the number of premises per sector.

This article originally appeared on the SMH.



    How about you focus on getting the city CBD's 100% and expand outwards from there in a spiral pattern based on population density and industry of employ. Country towns should be last.

      Spoken like someone who's never lived outside of the city....

        Er, the NBN is a business and it needs to make money. Financially it would make sense to set up the most dense part of the population first. The NBN isn't a feel good charity. Think of it this way, the more money they make in short time, the more money they can put into building more infrastructure quicker. The way it's getting rolled out now means it's going to be slower for everyone. Yes the country people feel like they're hard done by but that's only because of economics. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

          You're right, it would have been more profitable for NBN to tackle the urban areas first. But NBN is a GBE, which means it's primarily for providing services for citizens, rather than simply being a machine for generating profits.

          If you recall, the whole motivation for the NBN's inception was that Telstra and the other telcos were cherry-picking the most profitable areas of Australia to service with broadband, and leaving the rest of the country languishing on dial-up or mobile services.

          The reason country areas got serviced first are:
          a) They needed it more - unlike city folk, most of them had zero options for fast internet; and
          b) Building a couple towers that can service every home in a 14km radius is much faster and cheaper than running cable to every single house.

      Exactly. I live within 7km of the CBD and I won't be getting NBN till 2019. That's not good enough. Like you said, the NBN should of started in the cities and spread out from there. Financially, that's the most logical thing to do.

        Fortunately, for me, they decided to do it backwards and i've had the NBN for 2 years, so far, including in Karratha, WA, which is in the middle of butt-f&ck nowhere.

        Thats bullshit for you and everyone else living in existing dwellings close to town. I'm lucky as we bought in a new estate 30km out of CBD so fttp 100mbit. Commute sucks but fttp is nice.

      Yeah stuff the country they can wait till last. As long as you have your 3 meals a day on the table. Maybe it's magic and everything you eat actually grows out the back of the supermarket. Farmers are the back bone of this country.

        I forgot they use the Internet to grow their crops.

          Ever ordered water? paid bills, ran a business? Being online certainly helps.
          Even as a research tool, or do you think they should be only getting their improvement techniques out of books? Stupid city folk.

            Lol, I did grow up in the bush as you like to call it, glad I'm out with a lot of the mentality. Yes there is a need for Internet but to say it should be prioritized over city areas is ludicrous. There need for high speed Internet is nearly an infinite amount more.

      So once again, people growing your food and cloths get the middle finger?

      You say "they choose to live there", but never ask yourself what happens when their children decide NOT to live there anymore, and the farm gets shut down.

      You really need to think things through before you say things.

    i'll believe it when i see it.

    Yaay more speed, but trust me you will pay for it. Nbn to double speed and triple price in regional areas.

    Ballarat is not off the beaten track.
    Should have been demonstrated in Yaraka (QLD).

    Don't believe anything NBN say They are just Spin masters, ADSL was faster and more reliable
    I was getting faster speeds and had no drop outs when we had ADSL. So the country will properly only get a half arsed internet that wont work properly but hey NBN co will think there the best thing in the world because you now have a shiter version of the internet in the country.
    So lete NBN Co sort there stuff out first or you will be worse off.

    TIL gizmodo have a lot of country folk amongst their readership who feel hard done by enough to downvote any comment thats say city folk should get fast internet before them.

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