NBN 101: The case for wireless broadband

3G, WiMAX, LTE, satellite... wireless broadband is all around us, but is technically competent to replace fibre in an Australian NBN?

Australia's iconic Telstra Tower

Australia's iconic Telstra Tower

This article is part of Computerworld Australia's NBN 101 series, in which we take a look at the arguments surrounding the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network, and dissect them one by one. The articles are meant to be an overview of the debates central to the National Broadband Network (NBN) to give you a grounding as more and more media outlets and commentators speak out on the project. We encourage people to take the discussion further in the comments section.

In our first article we took a look at how Australia’s NBN plan compares to the rest of the world and the statistics and graphs from the OECD, and then we strapped in for a tour of speeds. This time we take a look at wireless technologies versus fibre optic.

The question I'm often asked is: why don't we just do it all with wireless? NBN Co chief executive officer, Mike Quigley

Of the alternatives offered by critics of the National Broadband Network (NBN), one of the more interesting options has been the notion of providing all Australians with wireless of one type or another. NBN Co CEO, Mike Quigley, felt necessary to remark on it recently, and proceeded to defend why the NBN, as it currently stands, will not use the technologies.

The alternative has garnered support from the Computerworld Australia community, as well as analysts. It also underpinned the failed OPEL project, and may form a major part of the Liberals' broadband scheme, if they ever formulate one.

It's fair to say not all are convinced the prescribed technologies are the best fit for the job. Whether it's NBN Mark I (a fibre-to-the-node or VDSL network) using copper for last mile access, or a nationwide wireless network, there are alternatives to the NBN that each have their benefits and disadvantages when compared to fibre. Some even continue to champion ADSL2+ as a future-proof Internet access method - why bother building an entirely new network when current technology is yet to reach 90 per cent market saturation?

To recap, the Federal Government's proposed broadband network would see 90 to 93 per cent of Australians receive committed speeds of 100Mbps over a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network. Of the roughly ten per cent remaining homes, seven per cent would receive wireless access and the remaining three per cent of the population could connect via satellite, both access points meant to be working at speeds of at least 12Mbps.

No matter how the NBN eventuates, then, wireless still plays a vital part; it's necessary to deliver Internet to those homes too rural and too expensive to run fibre to.

Quigley himself confessed he was a "big fan of wireless and mobile" and said that wireless broadband is a big part of Australia's broadband future. But can existing and/or future technologies ultimately replace fixed broadband? Let's have a look at the arguments.

Wireless as it stands

Wireless broadband already plays a significant part of the telecommunications market in Australia. According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), wireless broadband subscribers make up 2.8 million of the total 8.2 million broadband subscribers. It's important to note here that the ABS only takes dongles into account at this stage - not smartphones - and doesn't distinguish those users who have multiple connections. However, considering that half of the total 25 million Australian mobile subscriptions in June 2009 were made up of 3G-capable devices, it's likely that the number of connections to the Internet on mobile phones will surpass that of fixed broadband, if it hasn't already.

With Telstra and competing providers pouring an increasing amount of money into developing faster 3G and HSPA networks, it doesn't look like wireless is going anywhere anytime soon.

When it comes to building a national, open access broadband network with minimum committed speeds, though, wireless broadband becomes fraught with issues. The more users you have on a given wireless broadband network, the more base stations and back-end infrastructure a service provider has to implement to keep providing the same quality of service. According to Quigley, Australia would have to expand its current base of 16,000 mobile cell sites to around 80,000 in order to deliver a near-equivalent broadband experience to the proposed NBN.

That doesn't even take into account speed. Telstra's fastest mobile broadband network currently works at a theoretical peak of 42Mbps in lab tests, with real world speeds of up to 16Mbps with the right hardware. In premium conditions, Telstra's dual carrier HSPA network could technically be a candidate for the wireless portion of the existing NBN plan. But given that aspect of the rollout is made up of rural Australian communities it is unlikely a 12Mbps minimum speed can be guaranteed.

Next generation, "4G" technologies such as WiMAX and LTE provide better hope of comparable speeds and coverage, but can they really be fit out for an NBN?

*Note: We will be addressing the uptake and demand argument around whether people will choose wireless over fixed line services in a future article. This article focuses on the technology and their ability to deliver NBN goals.

The case for WiMAX

WiMAX has, so far, been a bit of a non-starter in Australia. Though several Internet service providers (ISP) are expanding their respective WiMAX networks, the technology has suffered from a fractured upgrade path that has essentially split it into three different standards: 802.16d, 802.16e and 802.16m. Like 802.11 WiFi, these different industry certifications provide different capabilities and speeds, but by the same token require different hardware and often significant upgrades to existing infrastructure by both operator and end-user.

The earliest version, 802.16d, is currently available in Australia through Unwired in Sydney and Melbourne, and Internode in South Australia, with varied speeds of between 256Kbps and a theoretical 9Mbps. The service was marketed heavily by Unwired - now owned by Seven Group - several years ago as a fixed wireless broadband access service dedicated for people on the move or those without access to ADSL services. However, slow speeds and patchy coverage led to slow uptake. The Seven Group has since put out a different WiMAX-based offering (802.16e) under the vividwireless brand earlier this year.

vividwireless has generated the most attention for 802.16e WiMAX so far when it launched in March with 150 WiMAX base stations from Huawei scattered throughout Perth. The network launched claiming peak speeds of 20Mbps but promptly dropped the figure and does not currently claim or promise any specific average or peak speeds to customers. However, users have reported an average speed of 9.53Mbps through speedtest.net, which the service provider's chief executive officer, Martin Mercer, recently championed at a 4G conference in Sydney as a success that provided a "superior experience to ADSL2+".

South Australian ISP, Adam Internet, uses 802.16e WiMAX to fill in gaps on the outer fringes of Adelaide where residents and small businesses are unable to receive ADSL2+ services, as part of the Federal Government's Australian Broadband Guarantee. At time of writing, 18 of the total 62 communities targeted by Adam Internet for WiMAX base stations are able to sign up to the service, with the remainder of the areas slated for connection before the end of the year. The service provider artificially caps the maximum WiMAX speed at 12Mbps downstream, but has reported that users experience an average of 11Mbps.

Another notable WiMAX experiment is currently under construction by NSW energy utility, EnergyAustralia. The retailer is in the process of rolling out 140 802.16e WiMAX base stations across NSW, with 20 expected to go into full operation soon as part of the Federal Government's $100 million three-year Smart Grid, Smart Cities trial. The wireless network works off 15MHz worth of spectrum leased from Seven Group's Wireless Broadband Australia (WBA) - which also owns vividwireless' spectrum in Perth - and is designed to connect to WiMAX-capable smart meters in homes as well as up to 3000 mobile field computers. While ambitious, the retailer has ruled out interests in signing up customers to the network, even if legislation allowing enterprises to become retail service providers (RSP) were to eventuate.

Put simply, WiMAX as it currently stands in Australia, is untenable as a nation-wide broadband network, and certainly isn't capable of delivering the committed 100Mbps speeds that the Federal Government proposes to deliver for at least 90 per cent of Australians.

Unlike optic fibre-based network technologies, the WiMAX technology’s greatest asset is also yet to make a strong appearance in commercial reality. 802.16m WiMAX, otherwise known as "WiMAX 2", purports to deliver peak speeds of 300Mbps and lower latency than previous generations to make applications like Voice over IP (VoIP) easier to deliver over the network. However, the specification is yet to be finalised and, while reports earlier this year pointed to 2011 as the beginning of the standard, the timeline has since been pushed back to 2012 according to Intel.

The WiMAX Forum says operators are able to co-locate WiMAX base station equipment within existing 3G towers, which means that telcos at least won't have to erect completely new towers if they choose to implement the technology. However, given that the technology is yet to be field-tested indicates that the upgrade path to WiMAX at a national level could potentially take even more time than currently slated for the NBN and, even then, 100Mbps on a completely even playing field for all users (the concept of ubiquity that is part of the NBN) are unlikely.

Next: LTE

Tags lteWiMaxsatelliteNational Broadband Network (NBN)NBN 101WiMax 2

More about AAPTAAPTAARNetABSAdam InternetAPTAustralian Bureau of StatisticsAXADMAetworkFederal GovernmentIntelInternodeNokiaOECDOptusQuigleySiemensTelstraUnwired

43 Comments

Fabs

1

Nice of you to illustrate your understanding of the real issues by saying that OPEL failed when it was actually cancelled...

Jason

2

My problem is are they going to lay fiber where ADSL is currently available. I can get ADSL2+ through Telstra and i don't want to be told in a few years i need to go to Wireless because they don't want to run fiber to my Rural town.

D Newman

3

Ahh so because its you, you dont want anyone else getting some pie, way to go there.....
Depends how rural you are talking, if your town has ADSL, be a damn good bet it will have fibre, Telstra didnt make your exchange enabled if thought you were to rural, (ie very remote) Telstra were funny that way.

Murray

4

Theren are currently wireless subscriber because they cant get ADSL or Cable.. We need to use NextG for work when on call and it is super frustrating.. Disconnects, slow and im right in the city. I wont even begin to tell you how bad it is in the country.

So stick your wireless where its dark most days and roll out the NBN

Glen

5

Thanks for taking the effort to explain why fibre si needed. Its a real pity the naysayers will probably never read it.

PeterA

6

Nice article, but you didn't clearly explain that with wireless broadband, the bandwidth is shared. If timmy across the street is torrenting 24/7 using his full 100mbps ob his 170mbps LTE wireless, then that leaves 70mbps for the rest of the neighborhood. And while capable of speeds upto 42 mbps, if you have 10 people wanting to download their 300megabyte iphone update they all get to share 4 megabits/sec.
Wireless speeds are shared between all users. User A can degrade user B's internet connection easily. With fibre everywhere, this is almost a nonissue.

James

7

I laugh at this article trying to compare Wireless with Fibre. Another "NBN at all costs" article which dismisses every other technology before the article has even started

"For fibre, this is no issue: data travelling down fibre is as fast at point A as it is at point B"

Actually... in reality you're completely wrong. When you're not in a FIXED location, connected to the NBN, your throughput will be ZERO bps. Unlike with wireless, were you have MOBILITY.

Mobility is the future. The NBN WILL NOT PROVIDE THIS. The NBN also won't be rolled out within a 10 or even 20 year period, yet in 3 years time, we'll have WiMAX 2.

Already people are able to get throughputs of about 37mbps with WiMAX (for example, LTE won't be much different), on a 10Mhz carrier.

Vividwireless own 100Mhz of WiMAX spectrum, so if they used the current (Version 1 - Established), WiMAX technology, they could theoretically pump out 300mbps per sector.

Give us another two years when radio tech has its next leap in technology (currently in R&D), and you'll be able to double this figure easily.

NBN = Left for dead.

The only think giving the NBN an advantage is the government holding back the sale of WBB spectrum - No surprise there! Vested interests in desperately trying to make the NBN any more of a failure!

Ben

8

To the Author:
While you have done adequate research, you really haven't done enough. You have completely missed an entire section of the Satellite market, ignoring the IPstar (THAICOM-4) which would probably provide the largest section of that market with companies like Activ8me, Skymesh, AussieBB etc.

You have also managed to completely maul the concept of Wireless, which is a blanket term for literally 10s to 100s of different protocols and configurations.

Its disappointing to see that as an "Independent" you are subject to exactly the same kind of bias I see in this industry every day. Wireless is not the kid brother of Terrestrial services, its a Younger more well planned cousin. They arent directly comprable, but the advantages and disadvantages are. I think you would be interested to see the kind of price the NBN could be done for using Wireless. Trust me on this, its a LOT less.

To PeterA,
Peter, you clearly arent aware that backhaul is an issue for terrestrial services as well. What you have described is entirely possible on a terrestrial connection, due to the weight of numbers its harder to notice, but it is present none the less.
All ADSL, Fibre, and even products like Ethernet over copper, quite often have no contention to the Exchange, but from the exchange you can expect to be contending with "Little Timmy" for the backhaul to your providers Core.

Backhaul is quite often known as the ISP's gambit, do you spend extra on backhaul providing more bandwidth for customers ultimately giving them a better service, or do you save money on backhaul and through this make cheaper prices possible?

Hutchinson James

9

@PeterA

Thanks for the comments, and completely agree with you - we touched on the congestion issue but as you say, we could make that point a little clearer in regards to shared bandwidth ala HFC/cable operations.

Raymond

10

How refreshing it is to come back and read comments from the likes of James and Ben, obviously men of the industry.

Given that europe would fit into geographic australia, Satellite and Wireless are not options, but a must!

It is also interesting, yet understandable other comments that on face value appear to be vested interest,I believe they are not however, they are just frustration of being neglected for so long.

For the most part certain ISP's have been like the small fish that are friends of the sharks, and live off the the bits not eaten with the first almighty bite and threshing,some of them have a lot to answer for!

I have noticed in my absense some volitile and spiteful comments, I have also been credited with being somebody else! that person, works in my office, I would invite any of the other people to meet with him someday in person, any takers!

Phil

11

@Ben - You are right that IPStar wasn't mentioned and probably should have been. But they have less than 100,000 customers (last count was somewhere near 75,000) and can only provide up to 4Mbps. Additionally they can only connect 2 million people in total - and that is across 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region (including places like China, Japan and Indonesia - all highly-populated). They'll most likely upgrade their offerings going forward (but say the existing satellite will be used for another 10 years) and claim their use of "multiple spot beams and frequency reuse, resulting to 25 times higher bandwidth capacity than conventional Ku-band satellites". But that is still far lower than the Japanese efforts of late and that example is still far lower than the potential upgrade path possible on fibre.

And I don't think PeterA was actually talking about the backhaul issues - he was talking about the consumer/business experience from the base station/exchange to the place they connect. You are right that backhaul is an issue, but it would be far worse if it was done via wireless and not fibre. But the speed you get from the exchange to your place of connection is committed with fibre - i.e. if they say you get 50Mbps, that is what you get (within a roughly 15 kms range - then it starts to degrade somewhat).

Is wireless cheaper? Would it achieve the aims of the NBN? Please feel free to outline why - not sure saying we should trust you is really an argument.

chris schneider

12

Wireless V Fibre it's an interesting debate.

1) ROI: We KNOW wireless has ROI otherwise we wouldn't have companies selling it in the market. The NBN can not provide any data which backs an ROI before 2020 infact it's closer to 2030 so there will be no money for upgrades. ROI on wireless in years not decades.

2) Customer assistance: If you have an issue with your equipment in wireless you bring it to a shop exchange it or get it fixed. With Fibre someone needs to visit you to solve the problem which could take time just use Telstra as an example of this.

3) Maintenance: Wireless is centralised maintenance. No Equipment in streets means no cables can be cut or remote equipment to fail. If a tower fails Techs will be there in minutes because it not just one person who has a problem. Fibre networks like Copper networks have issue of cut lines but if you cut a copper line it can be fixed quickly with a patch but a fibre needs to be re-spliced and this can create issues.

4) Speed: Fibre wins here and will continue to win here though the years. 10Gbps is possible quite easily now and it will be fibre ahead in speed each and every year but this comes at a cost every time a user upgrades and the cost is born at both ends. There are Wireless standard which are talking about 1Gbps which will enable house holds to consume unlimited data. 1Gbps is faster then most hard drive set ups so have remote hard drives will become a reality. If the network moves to a new version most people can stay on the older version until they get a new plan or decide to change.

5) Mobility: The current trend in the world is mobility. That's why the iPad and a like is so popular. It's why most people have laptops not desktops. It's why PSTN returns are going down. I have only ever connected a PSTN for ADSL. Now with the cost of wireless BB I would never even think about it.

6) Corporate packages: Giving an Employee internet access is becoming more common and the administration is quite easy with a wireless connection as the Employee does need to be part of the transaction where as at a premises it can get quite messy.

Raymond

13

Dear All, don't you find it interesting we are making assumptions, and not a business plan in sight!

NBN WILL use fibre and satellite that is for certain!

But, doesn't anybody think it strange a business plan even it draft has never seen the light!

Frank

14

So where are the NBN trials for wireless?

Opel was cancelled and we were told there areas would have priority with the NBN rollout...

All we have seen is fibre deployments in already DSL enabled areas..

Obviously can not trust what this government says...

I even emailed NBN co. asking what was happening with the 10%... Not even an acknowledgement that I asked the question...

D Newman

15

Release of a business plan proved to have been obsolete anyhow, with the migration of Telstra customers onto the NBN, the returns are now completly different, as the orginal plan only half-heartedly inculded Telstra.

An updated plan from NBN.co would be nice with the new projections, but rather moot at this point, as Telstra shareholders are looking like to vote for NBN.co plan and with that onboard and darkfibre intergration to be completed before estimated timeframe, its rather like asking for house insurance quote after your house has burnt down.

D Newman

16

@Frank,
In simple terms and not going into alot of tech babble, a certain degree of infrastructure has to be completed, lets say 40% (just a figure to play with) before they can do the wireless, it is pirorty in the sense you will get it before all the cities get the fibre to door.
I cant get projections info on mainland yet as other ISP,s have not got a heads up yet on what and where and how long, rest assured as soon as I know anything about areas about to be lit up I will post.

Ronin8317

17

For satellite, the response time between send and receive is at least half a second. It may be good for web browsing and movie download but unsuitable for interactive applications like voice chat or video conferencing. It also stops working during heavy storms.

To those who are worried about ADSL being removed : there is no business or technical case for Telstra to do so. If the copper wire is not replaced by fiber, it will still be there for ADSL.

Wireless offers mobility, at the cost of reliability and performance. The wireless network is designed for 'burst' usage, and suffers when there are too many concurrent users in a small area.

In regard to ROI (Return on Investment), the NBN is not a business at all. Instead, it is what people call a 'special purpose vehicle' used to keep debt 'off the book'. Investment banks are not the only one into financial wizardry these days. Normally, infrastructure spending shows up as an expense in the Government's budget. By creating the NBN, all the expense incurred for building the network is now 'off the book'. It's just a gimmick!! Anyone talking about ROI completely misses the picture.

There are countries like Singapore, South Korea, China, etc which have their broadband infrastructures built with a Government mandate. There are countries like US who leaves it all to the market. Right now, the average South Koreans broadband connection is 4 x faster and 40% cheaper than their US counterparts. The evidence is that Government built infrastructure will lead to broadband that are both faster and cheaper.

D Newman

18

@ Ronin8317,
One of the best descriptions I have ever seen.
Nice one.

Alan Murray

19

A very relevant Dilbert comic: http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-04-24/

Chris Schneider

20

@Ronin8317

Your just paying with the left instead of the right! the government money is OUR money. It's still wasted money. Also the government wants outside investment so ROI IS important

@D Newman

So because Telstra have said their users will move over to the NBN the NBN will be profitable... So me some documentation that proves this... O that's right there is no business plan. With out a business plan how can you say what is the tipping point? Telstra are off loading their customer to the NBN only if they can't get them on the Next G/Next LTE network. By the time their customers have access to the NBN they will be on the wireless network.

There are many bottle necks in networks. Currently for me there are three

1) At the RIM (where I share the fibre)
2) International capacity.(where I share the fibre)
3) The website (where I share the server)

The last mile is perfectly fine. (Even when I'm using my NextG service and we don't get a good connection I have NO phone reception at home!)

Here is an interesting note for people talking about speed.

CD Drive (x52) transfer @ peak speeds of 7.8MBps which is 62.4 Mbps.
A 18Mbps connection @ full speed can watch around 4 HD (1080p) video!!!

RS

21

#13 @ Raymond

Here's what you said previously -

20/5 - Guy's it's Game Over, get this inside your space vacant heads, NBN is not going to be built by ANYBODY.

24/5 - Get this through your feeble minds,NBN with it's 300+ staff, who are all building nothing, being paid by borrowed money from China,(fine one work about their costs in the budget!) NBN will not go ahead!

24/5 (different comment) - "NBN will not go ahead!"

And now...

24/6 - "NBN WILL use fibre and satellite that is for certain!"

Well who is the one with the "space vacant head and feeble mind" now - Mr. FOS Contradiction...

RS

22

#10 please forgive my lack of formality... welcome back Raymond…LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

Gee how about that? You claim that while you were away, of his own accord, someone who…

* Sounds just like you
* writes just like you
* misspells the same words, as you
* has almost identical grammar, to you
* …the same trumped ego, as you
* …the same amateurish/childish like debating techniques as you
* …the same hot-head and short fuse, as you
* …the same, immediate disrespectful demeanour, to anyone who offers an opposing view…as you
* …the same prejudices against the unemployed and/or poor as you
* …the same irrational, get a job/retrenchment, come back lines as you
* When challenged and given a dose of his own medicine, sobs and then avoids me, as you do

…has therefore, obviously been “mistaken (LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!), for you”!

Now we find out, that he just happens to work in the same office as you, wow – how “utterly coincidental is all of that”?

Odd though, when two people mentioned the name Raymond, he didn’t mention you or any association, or come clean! Instead he played dumb (also, just like you)! Perhaps he forgot about you or is “understandably embarrassed to admit knowing you”, LOL…?

Even stranger, I have only managed to get into a heated debate with 2 people here. You Raymond and your twin (who, refer above to my points) works in the same office...

Coincidence after coincidence...

Of course he’s not you, he’s a cross between Rambo and The Terminator, and because he can’t rationally debate like an adult and has been humiliated, therefore, wants to (most maturely and rationally [sic]) take us out the back and “bash us up”… LOL

Of course, there is a simple, honest explanation to all of this, LOL...Anyway -

Well Ray, as you are the "Boss” there, he needs to be “retrenched” immediately, because he is supporting the NBN – “the NBN you fiercely argue against and claim (well claimed, until today, when you flip-flopped - refer #13) will never be built”?

OMG… after that ridiculous story, that you actually expect us to swallow, I can’t believe you even remember to breathe, Raymond!

Trevor Clarke

Staff

23

Hi everyone,
Thanks very much for all the comments so far. Just wanted to drop in a friendly reminder that while encourage vigorous debate and are striving to keep the comments as open as possible we don't want anyone getting personal. Please stick to the topic at hand in the article and if you have any concerns about what we do and don't accept check out the comments policy (link is below).
Cheers

Raymond

24

Trevor, I assume you are aiming your comments at someone in particular ?

You have their email address, this is not the first time! please go back and see if that person ever made a comment relevant to the subject matter!

RS

25

Thanks Trevor...

I think it's well on topic to highlight one of the most vocal (and disrespectful) posters here, who has claimed he rest of us to be *****, because we have supported the NBN ... to have flip-flopped from saying the...

"NBN IS NOT GOING TO BE BUILT BY ANYBODY" (sorry for shouting) ... because I am a high-flyer in the business and know!

To now saying...

"NBN WILL USE FIBRE AND SATELLITE THAT IS FOR CERTAIN" (ditto shouting)...

Don't you?

But I'll be a good boy... as long as Mr. Flip-flop is too!

RS

26

Yes get rid of me Trevor, that way Ray can continue to call people imbeciles, morons and suggest they were molested, nice...

Truth hurts eh Ray, Legal Eagle or whoever you are today...?

If you're gonna dish it, you have to be man enough to cop it too, which you clearly aren't

So how about you just "grow up", Ray...

Francis

27

James, thanks for this very useful one-stop guide to the real limitations of wireless and satellite for the forseeable future (out to about 2020). Customer expectations already commonly include streaming video and reliable VoIP telephony. With multiple IPTV streams (e.g. doctor visits by video) to a household also looming, by now no-one disagrees that fibre is the best broadband solution. The Implementation Study sensibly found the "sweet spot" at which fibre must yield to wireless on cost per user, then where wireless yields to satellite wherever fibre and wireless cannot reach. Senator Conroy has done well to stay the course to insist on this solution, but will the coalition keep it?

Well, the National Party 2010 Platform released yesterday also demands a fibre rollout prioritised to service the have-nots first. This means delivering first wherever commercial providers will not, including RIM-sufferers in cities as well as regional towns and hamlets. It is a relief to see the social objectives of communications infrastructure for Australia given such prominence, while acknowledging the need to avoid wasteful expenditure where commercial providers are already active.

If the Libs take anything away from the Nats' platform, they will also ensure that the fibre backbone rollout continues, and that the outdated OPEL ideas do not consume money creating bottlenecks at nodes that had been better spent on the endgame of unlimited speed fibre to premises.

Yes, the timetable might be extended a couple of years while the Rudd-Gillard debts are recouped, but the NBN technological solution is unquestionably the best one.

Trevor Clarke

Staff

28

Everybody,
My comment was not directed at any one poster but as a general reminder that all of you are bound by our comments policy. Please don't force us to close the comments down because of personal attacks and an inability to be courteous to other Computerworld readers. We are trying to be as open as possible so please respect that and help us make this a place for vigorous discussion on topic. Thank you for all of your understanding and cooperation.
Regards,
Trevor
Editor

RS

29

My apologies to you, Computerworld and most of the others readers for my part in this.

I simply, don't suffer fools gladly and will not accept anyone, being belittled, simply for airing their views, by same...

Cheers.

RS

30

#29 was to Trevor Clarke

Chris Schneider

31

@Francis you made the comment "by now no-one disagrees that fibre is the best broadband solution" does that mean you read nothing? It is still quite active and the community that matters in this argument (the people that understand ARE split) All the thing you list ARE available right now as in today. via the Next G network. is this going to get worse?

read a little get a little understanding then make a new comment. I understand the arguments for Fiber but the cost to the community I believe is too great. Mobility is king and this is where 2020 will take us. Everyone will expect there experience to continue when they walk out the door augmented reality will rely on this.

Video Conferencing on the train is coming!

Please remember 4-6Mbps is required for HD video streaming.

Frank

32

Here is a few points for people to consider and for the record I am probably one of the 7-10% rather then the 90%.

Wireless may be cheaper only in the short term... We are told 12mbps is too slow now, that is why we need 100mbps.. How long will the 12mbps be good enough for the 10%? How much does it cost to upgrade wireless and satellite services? NextG has been upgraded how many times in the past few years, it went from 3.6 to 7.2 to 14.4 to 21 to 42 all in the space of four or so years.. Is the NBN wireless going to be the same with each upgrade going to cost the government a considerable amount of money, or is 12mbps supposed to do us for the next twenty years?

Copper apparently reaches about 98% now, if fibre is too expensive to deploy, how was the copper ever rolled out in the first place..

The McKinsley report suggested a few different things for the 10%.. One was the gradual replacment of all copper to fibre, another was the removal of all copper and replacement by wireless for those not getting fibre.. Remember the size of towns to get fibre was around the 1000 people and bigger size?

My local town has about 30 houses within the town limits, it's exchange has been DSL enabled by Telstra, due to lots of pair gain not a lot of people can actually get DSL on that exchange, certainly well under 50 houses..Do people think the copper should be removed from places like this and replaced by wireless?

How will wireless perfom at 6pm on a weeknight when everyone is online at the one time?

From what I can gather not a lot of thought has gone into solutions for the 10%, and to be blunt I doubt the government really cares about this segment of the community...

Francis

33

@Chris, if you require a solid, high-speed connection for voice or video, you will always choose fibre if it is available. No-one disagrees fibre is the BEST solution. Whether we can afford the best is a different question, but no-one is arguing that wireless in ten years will be better than fibre in ten years. About half the mobile accounts in Australia are secondary broadband accounts. Mobile broadband still requires fibre backhaul that is lacking outside (and sometimes inside) our cities. I have probably read every article and press release on the subject for the past five years, and the NBN Senate Committee proceedings and Implementation Study. The detail in the Implementation Study should be required reading for anyone wanting to contribute to the technology choice discussion. Full HD video streaming actually requires solid 10 Mbps broadband, and double that if a second person in the household wants to watch a different stream. VoIP is light on bandwidth, but susceptible to breakup and lag if the real-time signal strength drops momentarily, which it will always do with wireless solutions - this is pure physics, and will never be eliminated. Fibre is king - mobile is the king's message boy.

D Newman

34

Wireless is still back up to people on the move and/or light net users, yes it is improving but still will not cross the better than fibre line for a good 10 years.

But what troubles me is the i,m all righ jack attiude of so many, if they have want they want, then the rest can go hang, the fibre is vastly more than just internet connection to a house, a point so many get hung up on.

If Wireless was so good for everyone and busisness, why is the the company I work for coming up with a stop gap rapid deployment faster than ADSL2 solution, why ? because busisness demands it and needs it, and demand is high, its not just about you, I know shocking isnt it.

Just because some of you never go beyond surfing the net and facebook, doesnt mean that will change once you are offered other opportunities, and the keyword here is 'OPPORTUNTIES',
opportunities means everyone has an option or a choice to experience what huge bandwidth can deliver.

Is not just about live streamning a Blockbuster HD movie late on a wet friday night, its about busisness cold hard GNP, most of you fail so hoplessly at seeing a larger picture of busisness beyond your own little bubble of reference.

Was that harsh, maybe yes, but the amount of clueless dribble left on these forums, with yesterdays polictical glib one liners recycled en masse by a bunch of people who have not done the vaguest bit of research other than read 7yahoo or comments from policticians trying to grab 20secs of air time.

Classic example is the filter, fair chance it will get in, because the majority of people are clueless about their own sercurity, yet it doesnt stop them from making posts, and after reading 3 or 4 of them, I want to go to their houses and slap them upside of the head with a copy of the 'Idiots Guide to the Internet"....Closely followed by "Idiots Guide to Everything " edition.

RM

35

I live in a town that is about 20 mins away from 3 different towns that all get ADSL, my town doesnt and i wanted to know why this is? i can only get satelite.

Jerry

36

Pro wireless NBN supporters are idiots. A shared medium requiring that many base stations to maintain quality is a medicine for an internet infrastructure disaster.
40G and 100G ethernet standards have been ratified. If the backbone links are able to gain such a massive increase in speeds (via aggregated links) then the demand for an increase to the 100Mbs commited speeds will manifest for individual subscribers.
Wireless as a layer 1 technology will never be able to provide such speeds to 90-93% of the relevant locations in a large geography like australia.

Concerned Techie

37

One thing that is missing in all this debate is the carbon footprint of the rollout of fibre to, now, 93% of homes. How much tech waste are we going to generate with all the old modems and 50mbps wireless routers that are going to be binned?

Also, how much extra is including the 3% more houses going to add to the cost, given that they will be the most expensive to cable to?

Frank asked above how it was possible to provide copper cabling to 98%. Fibre Optic is very much more expensive to install than copper cable per km., it is only the capacity for high numbers to use optic cable that make it competitive.

When it is going 50km through the bush to service a couple of outlying farms in a town of 1000 people, it will be many a year before it pays for itself, if ever.

As the government is claiming that they will sell the network after a couple of years, no company is going to want to pay for the unprofitable bits. If they are forced to take it all as a package, don't ever expect reliable service calls if you have a problem in the country.

bob

38

Wireless is shared and has huge latency issues - try fps gaming on a wireless connection and see. Wireless will always be a shared technology and cannot scale to the same degree. It still has distance throughput issues and when you start connecting up masses of people your throughput drops - it would require a huge number of towers to support everyone. Fibre is the only technology with the raw throughput ability. The future is roaming but not for mass connectivity. I would like to see fibre to the house everywhere and wireless as well to cater for those wanting mobility. Wireless is useless in lots of installations - hospitals, high security, scientific establishments etc. With medical operations the need fr remote doctoring is growing - wireless cannot keep up with the throughput rates required on mass in this area. wireless is not the killer solution - fibre isn't either but it can handle far more throughput than can wireless.

Mike

39

The comparison is of an emerging technology against an established technology.

Given the NBN will take 20 years to roll out...where wil the fibre v's Wirless debate be then

One all the Politicians are gone are Australians going to be left with an obselete cable in the ground.

Surley wireless is much more adaptable to change both in effecting that change and the cost of change.

20 years ago, who would have thought we would be all mobile freaks and queing for the iPhone 4

RS

40

20 years, LOL....

Bit like the $80B NBN eh?

Goresh

41

I would point anyone who seriously believes wireless could serve as the NBN to the article named "Jammed"in New Scientist 30/10/2010.
Basically, rather than wireless being a competitor to a fiber NBN, a fiber based NBN will be the saviour of wireless.
The reason is simple, wireless technology has improved to the point where it is pushing the theoretical limits.
Current 3G has managed to squeeze 1 data bit into 1Hz of bandwidth. That is, one 1 or zero transition into one positive to negative waveform transition. 4G technology like LTE or WiMax squeezes in slightly more because the positive to negative transition is actually a positve - zero - negative transition so you can, in absolutely perfect conditions, get 1.5 bits into each transition.
Sadly that's it folks. Short of magic or Dr Who's Tardis, the inside (data signal) cannot be bigger than the outside (the carrier bandwidth).

Currently wireless traffic is doubling each and every year (actually, a little faster than that). On current estimates, places like New York will go into total meltdown sometime in 2013. Other metro areas will follow shortly after.
Building bases isn't the solution. If there are 10,000 bases this year, in a perfect world, we would need to build 10,000 more next year, to provide the same data rates per user, 20,000 new bases the year after, 40,000 the year after that.

Last year in this country, most 3G mobile bases got a second frequency. This year many were expanded to 6 sectors (6 transmitters) effectively 2 bases per site. Next year some extra 21MHz carriers may be brought on line. But thats it, there is nothing else in the pipeline. After that data will need to be rationed.

There IS a solution however, and the New Scientist article discusses it. Femtocells.
Basically they are a small mobile base in a box that can be installed into each and every house.
Each and every house that is that has a reliable, high speed data connection.

D Lewis

42

"Sadly that's it folks. Short of magic or Dr Who's Tardis, the inside (data signal) cannot be bigger than the outside (the carrier bandwidth)."

Wrong wrong and wrong. We are already beyond 15kb/s / Hz and the CSIRO just announced a new modulation scheme that achieves 20kb/s/Hz. That is, for every Hz of bandwidth you can get 20kb/s of payload. That's 20,000 times the carrier bandwidth, so by your logic we are not only heading into the Tardis, we have all been in there since about 2005. Today Telstra Next G is offering 21Mb/s within a 5MHz bw - and that's a 3g UMTS Network. You need to understand that modulation is multi-dimensional and the limits relate to factors such as the size of the multipath window wthin the radio environment and radio link path loss etc. With fixed wireless the kb/s/Hz can be made much larger than for a mobile network because 'mobility' operates within a far more hostile radio environment .

As a 3G / 4G planning engineer I am amused that there is not a single person in government or opposition - nor a single media commentator or analyst that appears even remotely close to understanding the potential of wireless networks and the important role they can play in a broadband future.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have a robust fibre network but let's not put ours heads in the sand and pretend that the development of wireless is nearly finished. Believe me, it's really only just begun.

Visionary

43

@42, The more education we get from SME's the better informed we will all become. More from you D Lewis is welcomed by me.

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