NBN downplays 5G plans while 4G beats international peers

5G is the end game for NBN's fixed-wireless network, but the company's 4G network is already world-leading, according to an Ericsson-commissioned report.

NBN's 4G fixed-wireless network has topped a comparison of 22 wireless broadband networks across the globe.

NBN's TD-LTE network is less than halfway built, despite initial plans to have the network construction completed by the end of 2015. It currently reaches 268,000 of the 600,000 premises planned to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via wireless as of the end of June this year.

A total of approximately 47,000 premises are connected to the network with a service.

The aim of the network is to serve 4 percent of the final 7 percent of Australian premises not covered by the fixed network rollout.

The network is one of the more successful components of the NBN rollout to date, and reports a higher user satisfaction than those on fibre to the premises, and the troubled interim satellite service.

On Thursday, research conducted by Ovum, commissioned by the NBN's fixed-wireless network builder Ericsson, compared the network's offering with 21 similar networks around the world, including Japan, Malaysia, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and the US.

It tested a variety of similar networks, including TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, WiMax, and TDD-CDMA.

The report compared a number of retail products sold by NBN retailers, and found that the data allowance on Telstra's 25Mbps down, 5Mbps up fixed-wireless product was seven times that of its closest international peer, PLDT in the Philippines. Telstra's plan offered 500GB per month, while the PLDT plan offered 70GB per month.

The price for the product was also four times lower than that of its closest peer, T-Mobile in the Czech Republic.

On price per GB (in US dollars), Telstra's NBN plan was 17 cents per GB compared to 21 cents for iiNet and 79 cents for T-Mobile in the Czech Republic. The most expensive was Telus in Canada, at $6.88 per GB.

Although in reality the cost for providing services on the fixed-wireless network would be much higher, the oft-criticised cross subsidy included in NBN pricing means that people on the fixed-wireless network pay the same prices as people in metropolitan areas, where it costs less to service those customers on the fixed-line network.

The Australian government is currently reviewing this cross subsidy, with a view of replacing it with a maximum price cap for services on the NBN in regional areas.

The download speed available on the fixed-wireless NBN was closer to its international peers, with Vodafone in Germany offering 50Mbps plans, while Telus in Canada offers 45Mbps. On upload speeds, NBN came out on top, at 20Mbps, with its closest competitor at 15Mbps.

The report was scheduled to be released to coincide with a speech NBN CEO Bill Morrow was due to give at Mobile World Congress Shanghai on Thursday. Due to a bereavement in the family, however, Morrow has pulled out of the speech, with Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher to take his place.

ZDNet understands that Fletcher will allude to plans to roll out 5G upgrades to the 4G network, but there is no timing on the upgrades. Mobile World Congress in March had a significant focus on 5G, and it is understood that the Asia-based spin-off conference also sought to address 5G technology.