50Mbps NBN wireless on track for pre-Christmas launch

NBN's speed boost to its fixed wireless service, which will see the potential maximum speed of connections increased to 50Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream, should be commercially available before Christmas.

NBN began piloting the new speed tier in May. Currently the maximum commercially available speed on the 4G TD-LTE service is 25/5Mbps. The upgrade to the service was possible without any additional capital investment from the company.

The fixed wireless service has reached a scale where "it's no longer just a bit player in NBN's stable of technologies," NBN's general manager, fixed wireless and satellite, Gavin Williams, today told the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network's conference in Sydney.

Almost 300,000 premises are within NBN's current fixed wireless footprint.

"We've actually just exited the peak rate of build over the last few months for fixed wireless," Williams said.

More than 60,000 homes and businesses are now connected to the service, up from the approximately 47,000 NBN reported in its results for the 12-month period ending 30 June.

"So if you do the maths, that's a penetration of 22 per cent. Our business plan has us growing to 55 per cent penetration," Williams said.

More than 50 per cent of NBN's existing fixed wireless customers are part of the 50/20Mbps pilot.

Penetration for the service could be improved, Williams said.

"Some people have called it the jewel in the crown of NBN, but I actually think it's one of the best kept secrets," Williams said.

"Big scale, doing pretty well, awareness really could be better," Williams said.

The service has been well received by end users, Williams said. On average, end users ranked the fixed wireless installation process at 7.9/10, the product experience at 8.3/10 and value for money at 8.4/10.

Overall, fixed wireless end users averaged 8.2/10 for overall satisfaction; the service has achieved a Net Promotor Score of +51, he said.

"We're comfortable ... that what we've built here is a world class fixed wireless service," Williams said.

NBN Long Term Satellite Service

Sky Muster, the first of NBN's two dedicated satellites, is due to launch on 1 October.

The second satellite that will comprise NBN's Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS) will launch around six months later.

Commercial services are expected to be available in the first half of calendar 2016. The two satellites will offer total capacity of 135 gigabits per second, with 25/5Mbps wholesale speeds available to end users. NBN will enforce fair use policies on the service, Williams said.

NBN has been working with third parties on innovative ways to deliver applications to Australians in remote areas using its infrastructure, Williams told the ACCAN conference.

"Beyond a standard broadband service to a home... we are working to do a couple of exciting things, and we will do more exciting things, to focus on particular applications," he said.

"One area that's quite exciting is the potential for this technology to do a much better job of serving kids who are learning at home, through distance learning.

"We're working [on] a concept with departments of education and groups like the Isolated Children's Parents' Association ... on utilisation of a second, dedicated port on the network device in the home that can be in fact allocated to distance education applications.

"Supporting a direct link, if you like, to an education department to support videoconferencing, lesson streaming and utilisation of allowances distinct from anything else that somebody might use."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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