Fixed line and mobile telecommunications networks in Australia are historically built on providing voice services to the public. With the recent advent of high definition video and other high speed applications, the thirst for high speed data has put significant strain on legacy communications networks.
To meet the present and future demands for high speed communications, a Next Generation Network (NGN) is required to provide a major architectural shift from the legacy voice-centric networks in Australia. Building an NGN would involve a migration to all IP platforms including a shift from traditional TDM voice services to IP voice services.
In Australia, the Federal Government is funding a transformational NGN project dubbed the National Broadband Network (NBN) to upgrade the existing fixed line phone and internet network infrastructure nationally.
The NBN intends to deliver fixed and wireless services Australia-wide through a mix of technologies and architectures including fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), hybrid-fibre-coax (HFC), fixed wireless using Long Term Evolution (LTE) and satellite.
Fixed wireless technologies like LTE have already moved towards LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) which is now deployed by various carriers around the world including Telstra, and can achieve 300Mbps throughput. At present, 5G technologies are being developed which have the potential to deliver over 1Gbps capacity. With these sorts of blistering speeds available to the consumer, why should the NBN be rolled out providing 100Mbps fixed line connections?
Mobile technologies operate in a significantly different way to fixed line infrastructure. While operators using LTE-A can provide peak speeds of 300Mbps, the technology is limited by a finite amount of radio spectrum and therefore this capacity is shared amongst multiple users. Fixed line infrastructure such as FTTH on the other hand provides dedicated capacity to each user.
As you can imagine if mobile carriers allowed an unlimited data usage to its customers, its networks are likely to be overloaded with users accessing this data, and speeds would soon slow to a crawl. In fact, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, from April to June 2013 fixed-line broadband subscribers downloaded on average 29 times the amount of data (155GB) compared to wireless broadband subscribers, and more than 80 times that of a mobile handset subscriber.
These figures illustrate that fixed-line broadband carries the vast majority of data required while mobile broadband is capable of delivering data at high speeds but in relatively small volumes. In other words, these technologies are complementary in nature rather than competitive.
In rural and remote locations where commercial broadband internet services are not available, the NBN Co Satellite Support Scheme (NSS) is designed to help increase availability of internet access for Australians.
Satellites will service the regions where fibre isn’t commercially viable and the Government has committed new satellite technologies that will improve on current satellite technologies. However, satellites have capacity constraints, take-up may be higher than anticipated and access may be limited in some locations.
These issues create a demand for additional non-satellite service options. Improved service options, quality and reliability may be possible through a combination of satellite and high speed terrestrial wireless services.
A terrestrial wireless signal would provide residents, commercial enterprises and service providers with an alternative to satellite. The absence of such options can limit the availability of services, generally increases user costs because of a lack of competition, and increases risk in the event of a service failure.
As with fixed line services, high speed wireless technologies such as LTE can also be complementary rather than competitive to satellite or other existing remote area services. Operating alongside current satellite technologies, implementation of a high speed wireless network in remote areas provides a richer and more reliable platform for remote customers to remain connected through applications such as high speed video, teleconferencing, remote health and education.
For more information on the benefits of NBN including fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite technologies, contact David Visic on email or +618 6467 0600.