LIVE FROM BROADBAND WORLD FORUM 2015, LONDON: Tony Cross, chief architect of NBN Australia, talked up the importance of wireless technology to its lofty goal of delivering ubiquitous broadband services across Australia, stating that it is “delivering an absolutely superb service”.

The executive started off by outlining the two core principles behind its rollout. “We go to everybody, there is nobody left behind – we’re talking about 100 per cent coverage. We have a minimum speed of 25Mb/s [downlink] /5Mb/s [uplink]. If you look at those two data points, you start to see some of the technical and engineering challenges that we have.”

In order to achieve its goals, he said that the organisation has taken a pragmatic approach. “We are technology agnostic, we’ll use whatever is available to our hands. It’s a bunch of technologies that we know today, and a whole swathe of future capabilities into the future. It’s all about what helps build the network most quickly and most cost effectively, while delivering a great broadband experience.”

With NBN initially focusing on fibre, Cross said: “If you are really about speed and low cost, which we are, a ubiquitous fibre network is not a good match”. On the fixed line side of the business, the company is using existing copper and cable infrastructure where appropriate: “why the heck would you not just repurpose those networks to get broadband speed available much more quickly at lower cost?” he commented.

Which leads to the use of fixed wireless technology, something the executive boasted is “a shining example of fabulous technology meeting a rural need and delivering a great service.”

Working in partnership with Ericsson, the company will soon boost its service from 25Mb/s / 5Mb/s to 50Mb/s / 20Mb/s using the same infrastructure. “We’ve found that the service is working so well that we can increase the speed.”

“Fixed wireless – this is a fantastic service, our customers are falling over themselves to get this service, they love the way it works, they love the way we manage to activate it,” Cross said.

Satellite launch
And another part of the NBN portfolio comes through satellite communications, with its first – called Sky Muster – launched earlier this month. It is undergoing final technical testing, ahead of planned commercial services next year.

“We’re getting to the last 3 per cent of the Australian population. There’s no wireline or even a terrestrial wireless network that can be cost effectively built out to the remoter parts of Australia,” Cross noted.