Home Telecoms & NBN Move towns to fixed line NBN: Aussie Broadband
NBN technologies in Blayney NSW NBN technologies in Blayney NSW Featured

Retail service provder Aussie Broadband is calling on the Federal Government to fund changes to parts of the fixed wireless portion of the NBN

Aussie Broadband managing director Phillip Britt believes a significant part of the NBN fixed wireless network is badly congested, and that could be addressed by moving townships onto fixed line technology.

"We estimate from analysing our own data that at least 18% of the fixed wireless network is currently experiencing what we define as severe congestion. Our analysis of NBN data leads us to believe that 12% of the network is experiencing what NBN defines as unacceptable congestion," said Britt.

"It's obvious to us that fixed wireless has, to some degree, been a victim of its own success. It was rolled out early in the NBN schedule and demand for services since then — what is often called 'the Netflix effect' — have escalated."

Britt thinks at least part of the problem could be addressed by switching denser rural townships or parts thereof from fixed wireless to lower-cost FttN or FttC services.

Given the ill-feeling generated in metro areas by FttN services that fail to deliver the expected speeds — NBN Co recently announced that more than 45% of end users are now on 50Mbps or faster plans — FttC would seem to a safer bet in terms of staying onside with voters as well as the longer term reliability and upgradability of the network.

"Ideally, no-one on a quarter acre township block should be serviced down the track by fixed wireless. It should really be used to service customers on larger blocks around the outskirts of towns, and rural properties where appropriate," said Britt.

"Removing denser parts of townships from the network would help free up capacity for surrounding customers on fixed wireless."

Britt cited Toongabbie and Glengarry in regional Gippsland and Port Wakefield in South Australia as examples of whole towns that could be switched from fixed wireless to fixed line services.

And, he said, places such as Blayney in NSW and Kalbar in Queensland have adjacent neighbourhoods with a "digital divide" between fixed line and congested fixed wireless services.

"It would not be hard to go back into these towns and retrofit those areas to fixed line services," said Britt. "It's a natural progression for the NBN and probably one they already have planned - we would just like to see it funded earlier.

"It also has the potential to increase NBN's average revenue per user in those areas, by shifting customers to higher capacity technologies."

NBN Co's ARPU is currently $44, with a long-term target of $52.

Britt also called for the adoption of a common definition of congestion.

"There are a range of definitions of congestion in the telco universe. For example, we define severe congestion as averaging less than 50% of a speed plan for 12 hours or more per day. NBN [Co] uses a slightly different definition, as does the ACCC. We think it would be helpful — especially for customers — if there was an agreed definition to base conversations around."


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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.


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