Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has told ZDNet that it is still looking to add 5G capabilities to its fixed-wireless network, along with monitoring and considering other upgrade paths across its multi-technology mix network.
During the unveiling of its 2019-22 Corporate Plan on Friday morning, NBN chief engineering officer Peter Ryan said the company "absolutely" still considers 5G part of its fixed-wireless technology roadmap.
"It provides us with better spectral efficiencies, it allows us therefore as the advancement of technology to drive better performance in terms of capacity etc out of the evolution of that technology, so just like all our technologies, we look at the advancement in the world of fixed-wireless, we look at both the antenna technology and its development as well as the evolution of the underlying technology 4G and 5G," Ryan told ZDNet.
"So absolutely, we're looking at that."
NBN had in April revealed that it would be undertaking 5G trials in partnership with Ericsson in Melbourne, using 100MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band as well as Ericsson's 5G New Radio (5G NR) equipment.
NBN's Corporate Plan had outlined potential upgrade paths across its networks, including NG-PON2, which should enable speeds of up to 10Gbps on fibre to the premises; G.fast and G.mgfast for speeds of up to 10Gbps on fibre to the node, fibre to the basement, and fibre to the curb (FttN/B/C); DOCSIS 3.1 and Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 for speeds of up to 10Gbps on hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC); "optimising utilisation of current spectrum holdings" on fixed-wireless; and next-gen VSAT on satellite.
While NBN has already begun activating DOCSIS 3.1 on its HFC network, and plans to deploy G.fast on FttC shortly, Ryan told ZDNet that it is only at the monitoring stage of Full Duplex DOCSIS and G.mgfast.
"All these types of technologies we are actively monitoring as they mature around the world, and we will schedule them into our plans at the appropriate time as the need arises, and as that technology matures," Ryan said.
Read also: Fibre to the curb: How NBN is delivering its new network
New NBN CEO Stephen Rue added that NBN spends a lot of time looking into such technological advancements.
"We have a dedicated CTO office who spend their time clearly looking at development and market," Rue told ZDNet.
"The world will continue to evolve and so will we, and as appropriate we will continue to evolve too, but we have active monitoring of all that happens in the world."
On whether NBN is still considering adding a third satellite, Rue again told ZDNet that the company will "see how the world evolves".
"We will continue to see the needs of people and what's required. It's not something that currently we're focused on, but obviously as the world moves on we will consider all options," the new chief executive said.
On expanding the FttC network again, meanwhile, Rue told ZDNet that NBN is mainly focused on ensuring the NBN deployment is complete by 2020.
NBN's new Corporate Plan showed it expects to have 700,000 FttC premises ready for service (RFS) by the end of FY19 and 1.4 million by FY20; 2.1 million HFC premises RFS by FY19 and 2.5 million by FY20; 4.3 million FttN/B premises RFS by FY19 and 4.7 million by FY20; and 600,000 FttP brownfields premises RFS by FY19, 800,000 by FY20, 900,000 by FY21, and 1 million by FY22.
The company already has its 1.1 million FttP greenfields, 600,000 fixed-wireless, and 400,000 satellite premises RFS.