Conroy denies wireless threat to NBN

The Gillard Government has thrown its support behind Telstra's announcement LTE network

Federal communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has denied the introduction of 4G wireless broadband technologies, such as the LTE network announced by Telstra this week, will pose any threat to the government's National Broadband Network (NBN).

Telstra chief executive, David Thodey, used his keynote at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona this week to announce plans to significantly upgrade the telco's Next G network with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies, providing greater bandwidth to customers in capital centres and some regional towns by the end of the year. The announcement has led some to speculate over whether the upgraded network would pose a threat to the NBN.

In a statement issued following the announcement, Senator Conroy said the government supported the rapid rollout and take-up of wireless broadband across Australia.

“Fourth generation wireless technology presents exciting opportunities for consumers as smartphones and mobile devices become increasingly popular,” he said.

“Wireless broadband, whether delivered over mobile networks or via smaller Wi-Fi networks that extend people’s fixed line connections, will continue to form an important part of the broadband landscape in Australia.”

However, Conroy affirmed the network upgrade would not threaten the rollout of the NBN as wireless is “an important complementary technology to fibre”.

An independent review of NBN Co's business plan, also released this week, noted the potential for LTE or 4G technologies to pose such a threat as the networks could operate at speeds comparable to fast fixed line broadband with the added convenience of mobility.

While wireless networks offered consumers flexibility and mobility, Conroy said, a fibre connection could deliver services that will increasingly be made available as the NBN rolls out, including in-home specialist healthcare and rehabilitation services.

“A fibre connection also offers users the opportunity to create their own reliable local wireless networks to meet the need for mobility within homes or businesses,” Conroy said.

Conroy also said the facilitation of the rollout of 4G wireless technologies would free up valuable spectrum currently being used by broadcasters to deliver analogue television signals.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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