As you may know, last week saw the release of NBN Co’s Fixed Wireless and Satellite Review. The Review looked at how the NBN will be provided to around 8% of premises in Australia, mostly in rural and urban fringe areas.

Satellite on roof
This issue is so important because these areas generally have poor or even no broadband service, so getting them connected to the NBN as quickly as possible is a priority.

Some key takeaways about this “non-fixed line footprint” Review are:

  • Demand is up to three times greater than originally anticipated
  • NBN Co must nearly double the number of fixed-wireless base stations and extend the reach of the Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) network into areas that were previously slated for wireless or satellite
  • On the satellite service, NBN Co must have better and more enforceable fair usage controls to enable all users to receive consistent, quality performance despite the scarce satellite capacity
  • A realistic commencement date for the Long Term Satellite Service is early 2016
  • There will be closer co-operation with mobile providers to identify tower-sharing opportunities

The Review also considered a range of alternative commercial options for both the satellite and fixed-wireless networks, including joint ventures with the private sector, but ultimately recommended that NBN Co continue to manage the projects and that they remain in public ownership for the foreseeable future.

If NBN Co pursues the Review’s preferred path, the mix of technologies in the “last eight per cent” of premises by the completion of the NBN in 2021 may be:

  • Fixed wireless to 57%
  • Satellite to 40%
  • FTTN to 3%

What CFA member ACCAN thinks
“In our view, anything to tackle the obvious under-capacity of satellite broadband for rural Australia has to be a good thing. ACCAN has been advocating on behalf of our members and others who have found the existing NBN interim satellite service to be inadequate or simply haven’t been able to get a service.

It’s also good to see some specific mention of cooperation on tower-sharing, as mobile coverage is a key priority for regional and rural Australia.

We’ll keep you posted as the raft of NBN reviews release their findings.”

Photo Credit: cogdogblog (cc)