NBN’s ‘fibre to the most economic point’ a global trend, local Nokia boss argues

There is an ‘extraordinary innovation pathway’ for copper, Nokia Oceania’s managing director told the CommsDay Summit this week

The National Broadband Network’s rollout strategy is following a global trend, according to the managing director of Nokia Oceania, Ray Owen.

Nokia last year moved to acquire NBN’s fixed networks partner Alcatel-Lucent under a US$16.5 billion deal. The companies’ first day of combined operations was in January this year.

“I’d be stating the obvious to say this is a political minefield, but the fact of the matter is that NBN is following the predominant global deployment trend in its application of a flexible toolkit of access technologies,” Owen said in remarks prepared for this week’s CommsDay summit.

“We call this approach ‘fibre to the most economic point’, and yes it does include fibre to the premises, but it also recognises the extraordinary innovation pathway now maturing in the copper network domain, with technologies like VDSL Vectoring, G.Fast and XG-Fast, and deployment options like FTTN, FTTB and FTTdp, or what NBN is calling DPU.”

“The key is flexibility in a choice of technologies and deployment modes to suit market conditions and demands; innovation doesn’t stop,” Owen said.

NBN’s CEO, Bill Morrow, has talked up the potential upgrade paths for the technologies being deployed as part of the shift to a ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ National Broadband Network.

“All of the access technologies we use have an upgrade path,” Morrow told the CommsDay Summit in his keynote address.

“By adopting a flexible approach with leading edge technologies such as VDSL2 Vectoring and fibre, NBN is extremely well placed to meet its goals to deliver better broadband across Australia and Nokia is uniquely equipped to put this project among the most advanced ultra-broadband networks in the world,” Owen said.


Owen said that the rollout of the NBN could potentially boost 5G deployment in Australia.

“[I]t has become clear to me that this network — the NBN — may well be something that helps accelerate the way we move through next industry evolution in this country,” he said.

“As I said, there’s a great secret in the mobile world, and that is that behind every wireless network there is a fixed network. That’s the case today and it will be even more the case as we enter the 5G domain.

“Indeed, it may be in this environment that NBN finds new ways to support industry, to support competition and to support innovation that have not even been put on the table at this stage.”

There is a big difference between the design requirements of 4G and 5G, he said.

While 4G networks were primarily designed to deliver fast mobile broadband, there is a diversity of use cases for 5G.

“5G is the new generation of radio systems and network architecture delivering extreme broadband and ultra-robust, low-latency connectivity and massive networking for the Internet of Things to enable the programmable world, which will transform our individual lives, economy and society,” Owen said.

“What 5G will be good for and what technical requirements that imposes on the network have become quite clear,” he added.

In Nokia’s view there are three key use cases for 5G, Owen said:

• “Massive broadband that delivers gigabytes of bandwidth on demand”;

• “Critical machine-type communication that allows for the immediate, synchronous eye-hand feedback that enables remote control over robots”; and

• “Massive machine-type communication that connects billions of sensors and machines.”

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