Tuesday, 20 November 2018 10:15

Labor says fixed-wireless service congestion cause for concern

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Labor says fixed-wireless service congestion cause for concern Courtesy NBN Co

The Australian Labor Party has expressed concern over the state of the fixed-wireless service offered by the NBN Co and identified in the second report of the Joint Standing Committee on the NBN as likely to be due to congestion.

A statement issued jointly by Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones, and the deputy chair of the panel, Josh Wilson, said the congestion had come about due to the decision by NBN Co to reduce its fixed-line footprint and over-subscribe the fixed-wireless network.

The report, issued on Monday and focusing on rural and regional Australia, also recommended a change to the proposed broadband levy.

Jones and Wilson said, with a view to maintaining the universal service obligations in future, the panel had recommended that the capacity of the Sky Muster satellites were better utilised, using the layer three capabilities to provide more data.

Two other recommendations cited were:

  • "a rethink of how NBN fixed-wireless products are structured to improve experience, recognising consumers may be better served by a structure that reflects the characteristics of wireless technology and moves away from replicating fixed line product structures; and
  • "renewed focus on infrastructure sharing in regional Australia to support improved quality of NBN services."

Jones and Wilson also mentioned the recommendation about the broadband levy, claiming this was "a clear policy rebuke" to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

They said the panel had also recognised the raw deal that regional Australia had received with respect to the rollout of fibre-to-the-kerb - what NBN Co calls fibre-to-the-curb - with too few regional areas being served this technology.

The FttK option means a much shorter copper lead-in, with fibre being laid up to the nature strip in the front of a property.

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition said it welcomed the recommendations of the panel.

“The Coalition has long been calling for Sky Muster satellite services that are fit for purpose,” said ACCAN director of Policy, Una Lawrence. “These recommendations, along with the new NBN product announcements are a considerable step in the right direction and we look forward to their arrival early next year.”

NSW Farmers President James Jackson acknowledged the recommendations aimed at alleviating congestion on fixed wireless towers were a step in the right direction.

“Regional customers have been impacted by fixed wireless congestion due to a higher than anticipated migration to this product," he said.

"While this is positive, it now requires NBN Co to take requisite measures to balance this inequality on fixed wireless and ensure an effective and reliable broadband service. “

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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