5G needed to fix nbn rollout "catastrophe"

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

5G needed to fix nbn rollout "catastrophe"

The nbn project has failed and the rollout has been a “catastrophe”, according to Huawei Australia CTO David Soldani.

In scathing remarks to the 5G Business Summit in Sydney, Soldani urged the government to find ways to use 5G fixed wireless broadband technology to plug the gaps where the nbn has failed to deliver on its products.

“As the completion of the National Broadband Network comes into view it’s time to face a very simple fact: the nbn project has failed and Australians needs to stop expecting NBN Co to deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians — it is just not going to happen,” he said.

“Australia has somehow managed to invest $51 billion on a network that can’t even deliver 50 Mbps to around one million of its fixed-broadband end-user premises.”

The actual projected cost of the rollout is much higher considering that reports suggest that NBN Co will pay Telstra around $100 billion in subscriber migration and lease payments over the coming years, Soldani noted.

The fixed wireless portion of the rollout has also been a disaster, he said, with NBN Co spending $10,000 for every activated premises on the fixed wireless network, but hundreds of sites are delivering peak time speeds of 6 Mbps or lower — worse than the speeds many were receiving over ADSL.

But despite the failures of the rollout, neither major party pledged any additional significant funding to the nbn during the May election. Soldani urged the government to urgently look into new models to facilitate the delivery of 5G fixed wireless services.

“Firstly, let’s stop pretending that NBN Co can do this whole thing by itself — we now know that it can’t. There is simply no more money in the pot. That’s it,” he said.

“We know that in these outer-suburban and regional areas the mobile operators have plenty of spare spectrum available because there is very low population densities in those areas. So, using the hugely successful Mobile Blackspot program as a template, why not encourage the mobile network operators to extend their regional networks and use that available spectrum to deliver 5G fixed wireless services to consumers?”

But Soldani said it makes little sense to allow NBN Co to deploy 5G fixed wireless services under the current pricing model, which actively discourages retail service providers from offering high broadband speeds.

“The much criticised nbn pricing structure means that 1 Gbps speeds are currently priced at over $350/month — so if we want to make high-speed 5G fixed wireless available to regional Australians then there is little point trying to do it via the nbn.”

Finally, Soldani said the government’s decision to ban Huawei from participating in Australian 5G rollouts will only further compound the failures of the fixed wireless portion of the rollout.

Meanwhile, NBN Co has announced a range of wholesale discount business broadband bundles, including a basic business bundle of 50 Mbps download 20 Mbps upload or 100 Mbps download 40 Mbps upload for small businesses.

The bundle plans for retail service providers’ business broadband operators also include 20 Mbps and 50 Mbps symmetrical wholesale speeds with committed minimum peak information rates for medium to large businesses.

Image credit: ©eakkachai69/Dollar Photo Club

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