Telstra exposes more of NBN Co's fixed wireless woes

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Telstra exposes more of NBN Co's fixed wireless woes

As it emerges six percent of towers are officially congested.

Telstra has revealed around half of NBN fixed wireless users on 12Mbps and 25Mbps plans see 40 percent or less of the speeds they pay for in the evening peak.

The telco has quietly become the first in Australia to publish typical 7pm-11pm download speeds for NBN fixed wireless as well as NBN fixed line.

This is above and beyond the requirements of the ACCC broadband marketing guidelines, which require typical speeds to be published only for NBN fixed line services.

Telstra’s numbers, together with a new figure from NBN Co, provide a better indication of how congested the NBN fixed wireless network is.

NBN Co considers towers or cells to require upgrades when they dip below 6Mbps per user during the evening peak. The upgrade becomes critical if performance dips below 3Mbps.

The network builder has said only nine towers are listed as critical.

It has previously declined to say how many towers need remediation due to user performance dropping below the 6Mbps threshold.

However, the company yesterday said that six percent of towers and cells are “congested” and in line for a remediation program.

"We currently estimate there are around six percent of fixed wireless cells which are experiencing a level of congestion [of peak speeds below 6Mbps in the busy period]," NBN Co's residential chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb said.

Based on the last set of published numbers and the fact the fixed wireless rollout is largely complete, that would mean around 152 out of 2532 towers have hit the 6Mbps threshold.

But Telstra’s performance numbers go some way to showing how users fare on towers that do not meet NBN Co’s official definition of being congested.

They show fixed wireless customers can expect to see a wide range of speeds - as little as 2Mbps - and that many users are unlikely to get close to the theoretical capability of their service during the evening peak.

On the NBN12 tier, Telstra's fixed wireless customers can expect download speeds ranging from 2-11Mbps, with “around 50 percent of customers achieving speeds greater than 5Mbps (download)” between 7pm and 11pm.

Similarly on the NBN25 tier, the range is 2-22Mbps with “around 50 percent of customers [able to] achieve speeds greater than 10Mbps (download)” in the evening peak.

In other words, half of customers on these tiers see minimum evening peak performance that is 40 percent or less of the speed they pay for.

Telstra has about 55 percent of all active fixed wireless services: 118,842 of 216,474 connections, according to the most recent ACCC wholesale numbers.

It’s not clear how Telstra’s experience matches up with that of other retail service providers (RSPs), primarily because Telstra has gone above expectations in making its fixed wireless performance numbers public.

RSPs contacted by iTnews either indicated they wouldn’t similarly release fixed wireless numbers, or did not respond by the time of publication.

Apart from RSPs not being required by the ACCC to publish fixed wireless performance statistics, NBN Co itself is not subject to any specific rules around wholesale performance of the fixed wireless network.

The ACCC has flagged it will examine the issue as part of its current inquiry into NBN Co’s wholesale service standards.

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