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NBN completes 3.5 GHz wireless trial

NBN Co, Ericsson and NetComm hacve completed a trial of 3.5 GHz wireless radio coverage and fixed-wireless service performance.

The trial was carried out at two sites using a 20 MHz TDD (time division duplex) carrier in the 3.5 GHz band. Wireless termination network devices (WNTD) were provided by Australian company NetComm Wireless, based on chipset solutions provided by Sequans Communications.

Peak cell throughputs, both downlink and uplink, met or exceeded expected performances. Gavin Williams, head of fixed wireless and satellite at NBN Co, said the company was very pleased with the results of this trial. “We can now expand coverage and capacity to our customers in a cost effective manner using our existing 4G assets complemented with new 3.5 GHz radio units.”

David Stewart, CEO of NetComm, said: “It is encouraging that the ecosystem to support this extension is maturing. NetComm Wireless is committed to supporting NBN Co’s requirements of WNTDs for their broadband wireless access network.” The design and manufacturer of the NetComm’s custom designed WNTDs constitute one of the company’s largest ever contracts.

NBN Co has already deployed fixed-wireless access services with LTE TDD using its 2.3 GHz spectrum holdings. Williams said the future introduction of 3.5 GHz LTE technology provides NBN Co with the option to fully utilise its existing spectrum holdings.

“The 3.5 GHz provides up to 200 MHz of spectrum,” he said. “This trial further validates the use of 3.5 GHz for macro and small cell deployment. This frequency is already available in several markets, such as Australia, and in the license process for additional markets, including Japan.”

Håkan Eriksson, head of Ericsson in Australia, said: “This trial demonstrated that the 3.5GHz spectrum provides a good solution for user performance improvements and capacity expansion to satisfy future consumer needs. Ericsson is happy to provide support to NBN Co in this trial, as Ericsson continues to push for wider TDD industry ecosystem development.”

Eriksson said the successful testing results reconfirm that the TDD access scheme is a promising solution for the 3.5 GHz band to provide operators with the capability for advanced services and applications.

“The maturity of 3.5 GHz LTE-Advanced TDD ecosystem can address the need for an increase in spectrum in a cost effective manner.”

The trial was conducted in November and December 2014.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.