Uptake of NBN Co’s fixed wireless network means the service is entering a “second phase” that requires “a significant government-funded capital injection and a clever approach to ongoing upgrades,” according to retail service provider (RSP) Aussie Broadband.
“We estimate from analysing our own data that at least 18 per cent of the fixed wireless network is currently experiencing what we define as severe congestion,” said the telco’s managing director Phillip Britt.
“Our analysis of NBN data leads us to believe that 12% of the network is experiencing what NBN defines as unacceptable congestion.”
Aussie Broadband echoed comments by NBN Co Bill Morrow that the service, which is mainly used to connect homes in regional areas, is a victim of its own success.
In a submission to the government’s 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, Aussie Broadband said it is “not interested in getting into a blame game”.
“We’re interested in promoting agnostic solutions that will give customers, government and NBN the best bang for their buck,” the telco said.
“Whilst NBN has long-term plans for upgrading the capacity of the fixed wireless network, we believe that there is also scope to revisit the fixed wireless footprint.”
NBN Co has been working to address capacity issues at some of its fixed wireless towers.
Aussie Broadband argued that many denser rural township areas or parts of township areas that had originally been allocated for connection via fixed wireless could instead be served by fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the curb (FTTC) technology.
“Examples of townships affected by this kind of issue include Blayney, Gilgai and Griffith in NSW, Toongabbie and Glengarry in Victoria, Kalbar in Queensland and Port Wakefield in SA,” the submission states.
Retrofitting denser rural areas would allow the fixed wireless network to better serve customers in “peri-urban areas”, such as larger blocks around the edges of towns and further out, the company said.
The government should fund a “phase two” review of fixed wireless by NBN Co, which would include a cost-benefit analysis of alternative technology types in denser areas.
Fixed wireless should also been kept at price parity with fixed-line services — a recent source of controversy for NBN Co and the government — and the government should adopt definitions proposed by Aussie Broadband for congestion to help prevent confusion:
• severe congestion - averaging less than 50 per cent of ordered speed for 12 hours or more per day
• congestion - less than 40 per cent of ordered speed during evening hours (7-11pm)
• light congestion - between 20-40 per cent of ordered speed during evening hours (7-11pm)
• Prolonged congestion – anything that lasts over an hour
• Reoccurring congestion – anything occurring on more than two consecutive nights