Fletcher foresees complementary role for NBN and 5G

Australia will be better off with fixed and mobile network technologies competing.

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Two charismatic gentlemen: Minister Paul Fletcher and NBN CEO Stephen Rue

Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

Australian Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher does not see a future where 5G displaces NBN, instead saying on Friday morning that the technologies are complementary to each other.

"With each successive generation of fixed and mobile technology we've seen an increase in the speed and the capacity that each can offer, but fixed in each generation has an advantage and can carry large amounts of data to specific locations cost-effectively," Fletcher said.

"There will be applications, many applications where 5G will be the better service, but there will be many where NBN will be better. I think overall this nation will do better off from having both."

Fletcher also said NBN and retailers would need to compete should better technology arrive that is able to displace fixed infrastructure.

See also: NBN rejects speed test reality for one of its own

Fresh from its October crime against statistics, research firm AlphaBeta was back at it again with a new report claiming a relationship between fast broadband and productivity in small businesses. 

AlphaBeta said small businesses that spend more on technology increased revenue by 3.5 percentage points than those that did not.

"These findings underscore the importance of the Liberal National Government's technology neutral approach to rolling out more reliable and affordable broadband services to Australians faster," Fletcher said in a statement.

The minister also announced on Friday that the Mobile Black Spot Program had reached the milestone of 750 active base stations, representing over 70% of the 1,047 base stations funded through the first four rounds of the program.

"Thanks to our significant investment, people living, working and travelling in Nullawil in the Mallee -- the location of our 750th base station -- will now have better mobile coverage," Fletcher said.

"This is great news for local grain farmers and their families who can enjoy the benefits of improved mobile coverage."

With the government co-funding AU$380 million for the program, Fletcher said the investment total had reached AU$760 to this point.

Both of Australia's major political parties committed AU$160 million in funding for the fifth and sixth rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program prior to the May election.

On Thursday, NBN announced it had restructured to create a business unit that would take charge of the fixed wireless and satellite footprints.

"Today's announcement forms part of our evolution as a business, sharpening our focus on becoming a full-scale, service delivery organisation, centred on customer experience," NBN CEO Stephen Rue said. 

The company also announced on Thursday that it had switched on business satellite services.

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