NBN Co has demonstrated that it can push peak broadband download speeds on its fixed wireless network from 50Mbps to over 1Gbps.
The company has been conducting a trial of the technology at a site in Ballarat; the same location from which it announced plans to accelerate peak speeds on its fixed wireless network from 50Mbps to 100Mbps.
NBN Co achieved maximum peak speeds of 1.1Gbps/165Mbps in the trial. It also demonstrated that intermediate speeds of 400/55Mbps and 250/50Mbps were possible.
The 1Gbps+ speeds were achieved by bonding three wireless network terminators (WNTDs) together, while the other speed tiers were achieved using a single antenna.
Each prototype WNTD antenna is roughly 70 cm high and 40 cm wide, and NBN Co was only able to achieve the 1.1Gbps speed by using an ad hoc method to bond Ethernet connections from each one together.
However, NBN Co fixed wireless general manager Roy Brown said manufacturers were already integrating multiple antennas into much smaller receiving devices.
The trial also required NBN Co to use a spare operating sector on an existing fixed wireless tower and install additional radio equipment. It’s not clear whether the company has similar space available across the rest of its fixed wireless tower assets.
It plans to make a new 100/40Mbps speed tier available on its regional and outer-urban fixed wireless network service from early 2018, but it did not provide a timeframe for introducing the higher speed tiers achieved in its trial.
NBN Co used the results of the trial to demonstrate the potential to extract more broadband capacity from its 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum holdings using TDD LTE carrier aggregation technology.
NBN Co chief Bill Morrow said the trial showed the company could achieve speed improvements without making sharp turns in the network rollout.
“Our ability to deliver gigabit speeds on fixed wireless demonstrates our continued focus on identifying and implementing tech advancements as and when they are needed, across all technologies,” Morrow said in a statement.
Morrow also updated NBN Co’s footprint for its fixed wireless network from 500,00 to 600,000 premises.
The network currently serves around 170,000 premises consuming an average 110GB per month.