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NBN to spend AU$750 million upgrading fixed wireless to be millimetre-wave 5G capable

Australian government has kicked in AU$480 million for the upgrade.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: TPG Telecom

The company responsible for the National Broadband Network said on Tuesday it would spend AU$750 million to get its fixed wireless network 5G-enabled at over 2,200 sites and 22,000 cells.

As part of the upgrade, all users will be able to get up to 100Mbps speeds with 85% of the network capable of 250Mbps, have busy hours at minimum speeds of 50Mbps, 120,000 homes will shift from satellite to fixed wireless coverage, and those left on satellite will see off-peak quota-free window expanded from midnight to 4pm each day by mid-year.

The program is expected to take two and a half years, at which point satellite users will see data quotas boosted to 90GB.

"By using the latest 4G and 5G wireless technology, this upgrade will extend the coverage range from a tower, and allow higher speed services to everyone served by the tower," Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said.

"The upgrade will expand the fixed wireless footprint coverage by up to 50%."

The government funding is set to be part of the upcoming federal budget.

Speeds on fixed wireless connections have been heading backwards compared to a year ago, according a recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report, with only 49% of plan speeds able to be attained, and upload speeds continuing to be awful.

According to the ACCC's report from December, users on 25/5Mbps plans could only average 4Mbps uploads during busy periods.

"Consumers on the NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plan are experiencing relatively low upload speeds," ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said at the time.

"A typical video conference will require 2Mbps of available upload, which means some consumers might have trouble achieving high quality while video conferencing, particularly if there are multiple conferences occurring."

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