21Mbps Next G network no substitute for an NBN: Telstra

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21Mbps Next G network no substitute for an NBN: Telstra

Telstra’s Next G network might be surpassing the National Broadband Network minimum downlink speed of 12Mbps, but that doesn’t mean Telstra is using it to bypass the NBN process.

According to Telstra, the Next G wireless broadband and NBN strategies are two different and separate offerings.

Telstra’s chief operating officer, Greg Winn, has made it very clear that wireless technology would not make a good foundation or substitute for a fixed NBN.

“We have a very clear wireless broadband roadmap and all the technology in place to get there but it will never be the same as a fixed network because of the number of concurrent users it can support,” said Winn.

Telstra said it had explored a number of forms of wireless technology as part of its much talked about NBN proposal, but none appeared to match up to the reliability of a fixed network.

“We looked at satellite technology not too long ago but the challenge is you have to launch them, they have a service life and there are also latency issues. It’s a very good technology to reach a small number of people who have no other options,” said Winn.

WiMAX also didn’t make the grade: “You’re not going to be able to have the equivalent of FTTN with WiMAX, again because on mobile networks you can only have a certain number of concurrent users [before the speed degrades].

“WiMAX also has a different set of problems because it doesn’t have the range and isn’t stable in certain weather conditions,” said Winn.

WiMAX opponents will likely disagree with that assertion. A common criticism is that it wasn’t an option for Telstra because their chosen technology partners support the rival standard LTE.

Apart from technical differences, public opposition to the location of base stations also makes wireless broadband a more difficult national rollout proposition than fixed network infrastructure, according to Winn.

The Next G network is a case in point: “There are still Next G towers that were in the original plan that haven’t been built due to council approvals,” he said.

At the end of the day, the decision on whether the NBN runs off a fixed or mobile network is in the hands of the government.

“There’s lots of ways to use the government’s $4.7 billion,” said Winn.

“They’re going to have to make some choices.”


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