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Australia - National Broadband Network - Fixed Wireless and Satellite Networks


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The National Broadband Network will connect approximately 7% of all premises in the country to wireless networks. They consist of an LTE-based component that will cover 5%, with a satellite-based network dealing with the remaining 2%. In all, just under one million premises will be affected. In April 2015 NBN (formerly NBN Co) announced an upgrade of the infrastructure with new speeds of up to 50Mb/s download.

However, the uptake of these services has been significantly underestimated. In a 2014 review, the forecasted uptake of these services was increased from 230,000 to 620,000 premises. This had a significant impact on the rollout, increased its costs by $1.4 billion.

Under the previous government, NBN had purchased 2.3GHz spectrum from Austar and signed a $1 billion build-and-operate contract with Ericsson. Under that contract, Visionstream started construction in late 2011. NBN also commissioned the two ka-band satellites, costing some $2 billion. An interim satellite service has been made available.

Under the original NBN plan the fixed wireless roll out was planned to be finalised in 2016, the current plan is that this will not happen before 2020. The roll out finally started to gather pace in 2015.

The wireless roll out had bipartisan support and is therefore not affected by the ideological political discussions that are taking place in relation to the fixed network.

This report provides the background information to these network developments and follows the developments as they happen throughout the building phase.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

NBN; Austar; Ericsson; Visionstream; Optus, iiNet, Internode, Rivertel, CSIRO, Space Systems/Loral, gilat Satellite Networks, Bordernet, Clear Networks, Harbour IT, SkyMesh, Active8me, Reachnet, ViaSat


1. Synopsis
2. Introduction
3. Fixed wireless rollouts accelerating
4. NBN Co's Fixed Wireless Network
4.1 Services based on 2.3GHz spectrum
4.2 Construction plan
4.3 Visionstream to construct the network
4.4 Hills to do the home installations
4.5 Colocation and tower sharing
4.6 NBN facilitates wireless competition - Analysis
4.7 Fixed wireless rollouts
4.7.1 Roll out update
4.7.2 Extra spectrum
4.7.3 NBN Co's 3.5GHz trial results
4.7.4 Armidale first site that went live
4.7.5 Ballarat, Darwin, Geraldton, Tamworth and Toowoomba
4.7.6 NSW North Coast
4.7.7 North Queensland
4.7.8 South-west Queensland
4.7.9 Central NSW
4.7.10 Goulburn Valley and North East Victoria regions
4.7.11 Northern Territory
4.7.12 Tasmania
4.7.13 Regional South Australia
4.8 Other developments
4.8.1 Fixed Wireless and Satellite Review
4.8.2 NBN Co investigates backhaul for mobile
4.8.3 Faster wireless NBN services for businesses
4.8.4 Wireless upgrades to 50Mp/s
4.8.5 New broadband wireless technology
5. The NBN Satellite Network
5.1 NBN considering higher speeds for satellite service
5.2 The name of the service: Sky Muster
5.3 Broadband services in rural Australia worse than we thought
5.4 Launch delays
5.5 Introduction
5.6 Ka-band satellites
5.7 Satellite speeds
5.8 Interim satellite services (ISS)
5.9 Running out of capacity
5.10 Boost to capacity
5.11 NBN Co Satellite Support Scheme (NSS)
5.12 Added capacity for 9000 more satellite users
5.13 Satellite launch likely delayed until 2016
5.14 10,000 VSAT terminal milestone for NBN
5.15 Via Sat to supply satellite ground equipment
5.16 Ground station gateways
5.17 Satellite launch contracts
5.18 Analysis - Satellite and wireless uptake greater than expected
6. Why wireless broadband is no alternative to FttP - Analysis
6.1 Problems in metro fringe areas
7. NBN Fixed Wireless Broadband: A Global Comparison
8. Related reports
Table 1 - Comparison download times - NBN vs dial-up internet
Exhibit 1 - IP Channel Bonding

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