Aussie Broadband wants the government to consider funding a cost-benefit analysis to move parts of the fixed wireless footprint onto fixed line technology instead to ease congestion.
In a submission to the regional telecommunications review, the retail service provider argues that more dense parts of towns should be connected to fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) or fibre-to-the-node (FTTN).
"Many denser rural township areas or parts of township areas allocated to fixed wireless in the
early part of the NBN rollout could now be serviced by lower cost FTTN or FTTC technology," managing director Phillip Britt said.
"Ideally, no-one on a quarter acre township block should be serviced down the track by fixed
“It should really be used to service customers on larger blocks around the outskirts of
towns, and rural properties where appropriate.”
Britt said that fixed wireless network had reached a point where it needed to be upgraded faster than other access technologies in the multi-technology mix.
“The NBN is not a ‘set piece’ roll-it-out-and-we’re-done project. Like anything else in IT, its second phase will require constant upgrades, review and clever re-design,” he said.
“The fixed wireless program is hitting that second phase now.”
While NBN Co has committed to upgrade the worst-performing cells on the fixed wireless network, this could ultimately produce only limited return for NBN Co, RSPs and end users.
“Anecdotally, our customer support team say they have yet to see any customer whose tower cell has been through an upgrade receive a significantly better service – we believe largely due to the Netflix Effect,” Britt said.
“Any improvement in performance is almost immediately used up by existing customers and new customers connecting to tower cells.
“It’s worth noting that only 39 percent of potential fixed wireless customers have connected to the network to date.”
The Netflix Effect is used to describe the booming demand for video, which is placing pressure on networks worldwide.
Rather than continue to achieve incremental or negligible improvements to fixed wireless services through the current remediation work, Aussie Broadband wants to see a longer-term solution to the congestion and demand problem.
In the first instance, he is asking the government to “fund NBN Co to conduct an urgent phase two review of the fixed wireless footprint, including cost-benefit analyses of alternative technology types for denser areas on a location-by-location basis.”
However, he believed ultimately that the fixed wireless program “requires a significant government-funded capital injection and a clever approach to ongoing upgrades if it is to deliver the same benefits to rural and regional customers as fixed-line solutions do to their urban cousins.”
How palatable a further capital injection would be to the government remains to be seen.
The government is hoping its broadband tax will reduce the need for future calls on the budget to upgrade or replace the fixed wireless and satellite portions of the network in future.
NBN Co is also hoping to reconfigure the fixed wireless network to offer a mobile-like up-to service instead, with those changes expected in as little as a year.