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Wireless trend undermines NBN premise

Given the population's strong love for wireless, is the government's planned $43 billion National Broadband Network burning cash by taking fibre all the way to the home?
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

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Picture this. It's 2018. You get up early and do a little work on your laptop before jumping in your car. As you drive to the station you dictate a few tweets whilst listening to Radio 1 from London on your IP radio.

At the station you grab your laptop, jump on the train and start watching David Koch, who is still presenting Sunrise and still using the same jokes. They have a talkback segment where you can Skype in your comments. You can't resist the opportunity to call in and suggest a hair transplant. Your work colleagues are so impressed with your 15 minutes of fame they have saved you the best hot-desk for the day, the one near the window and out of view of the boss's office. At lunchtime you grab your laptop and take it to sit in the sunshine and video chat with some friends.

Don't you get the impression that, from now on, our lives will change more with advances in wireless technology than faster fixed broadband? If that's the case, it makes little sense for the government to push ahead with a fibre-to-the-home broadband solution. Surely the money would be better spent on a fibre backhaul solution linked to a high-speed wireless customer access network.

Telstra's HSPA+ dual-carrier network

We're already seeing wireless access networks picking up speed without government subsidy. On today's Twisted Wire Telstra's director of wireless fundamental planning Anthony Goonan explains how its HSPA+ dual-carrier network will double peak speeds on its Next G network, particularly in densely populated areas.

The panel discussion

Today's program also includes a panel discussion on the benefits of wireless technology over fibre-to-the-home, with:

  • Bill Rojas, research director on Communications Research for Asia Pacific at IDC;
  • Garth Freemand, former head of Buzz Broadband; and
  • Martin Farrimond, general manager for New Platforms at Broadcast Australia

The ultimate question is, was the government right in the first place when it pursued the idea of a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network? That would leave open the question of what is used as the last-mile access, leaving it to whatever is the most sensible technology at the time. There is always a lot to be said for an incremental approach.

Tell us what you think? Is the government's FTTH approach spot-on or is wireless the real answer?

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