Tuesday, 9 December 2014
This is what NBN Co said in its May 2014 Fixed Wireless and Satellite Review: Final Report about the planned 'fast' broadband roll-out in regional areas:
The challenges of geography and population density mean that outside of city centres, NBN Co has planned a combination of interwoven fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite technologies.
Over ~600 fixed line 'islands' are located in high density areas outside major capitals, such as major country towns.
This Review focuses on areas outside those fixed line 'islands', which are to be served by either fixed wireless or satellite.
Based on the best currently available data the Review estimates there will be ~1,020,000 premises in the non-fixed line footprint by 2021, being ~8 percent of the then total of 12.7 million premises.
NBN Co's fixed wireless network uses TD-LTE technology, with current specifications designed for the 2.3GHz spectrum band.
To completely cover a geographic area, NBN Co needs more towers than a notional radius and typical mobile network operator (MNO) grid suggest because although towers have a theoretical range of ~14km, line-of-sight (LOS) is required to all premises.
On average, each tower is only able to reach about 20 percent of the area within that 14km radius.
The specific location of towers is a critical decision and moving them as little as a few hundred metres can make a large difference to the number of premises they can reach.
NBN Co's satellite program is based around both an interim satellite service and a long term satellite service.
The Interim Satellite Service (ISS) currently in place involves NBN Co leasing capacity from IPSTAR and Optus Satellite.
In the meantime, NBN Co is developing its Long-Term Satellite Service (LTSS) by building two identical satellites to provide broadband services.
Both satellites are scheduled to launch in CY15.
The two satellites will work on the Ka band, a high frequency spectrum particularly suited to telecommunications.
They will cover the entire Australian mainland and islands through 101 dedicated 'spot beams'.
Each satellite beam has a different capacity in terms of maximum bandwidth, which is split across all end-users in the beam, and cannot be changed.
The highest-capacity beam can serve ~15,000 premises, while the 20 lowest capacity beams can serve an average of ~700 premises each.
NBN Co admits that its national fixed wireless network will not have the capacity to meet expected demand in seven year’s time, with around 200,000 of the planned one million premises in the wireless and satellite footprint not able to be served with faster broadband.
Internet users in the NSW Northern Rivers region will smile cynically when reading fixed wireless details, knowing full well that local topography in the seven local government areas would result in NBN Co having to erect between est. 1,600-1,700 high wireless towers (see example left) with each tower only serving an est. 14km line-of-sight range – and, leaving aside future capacity problems, that still would not guarantee reliable fast wireless broadband coverage to most of the people living on the coastal side of the Great Dividing Range, from the Clarence Valley up to the NSW-Qld border.
So what did NBN Co announce this month?
Why, it is beginning to roll out fixed wireless across the Northern Rivers! Including to the City of Grafton in the Clarence Valley and in the Lismore area.
See here for locations, but readers should be prepare for disappointment ahead of the mouse click.
There will probably be further disappointment if anyone bothers to read Liberal MP for Wentworth and Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the NBN review report.
* Photograph from ABC News