NBN fixed wireless will support VC and cloud services

The high upload speeds being promised as the National Broadband Network's (NBN) fixed wireless offering is rolled out to regional areas will be able to support more symmetric applications such as video conferencing and cloud services as well as improving the consistency of application performance, a new research report has found.

The "Fixed Wireless Broadband: A Global Comparison" report, commissioned by Ericsson and conducted by Ovum Research and published last week, has found that not only does the NBN fixed wireless network compare very positively with global offerings but that users of the network are able to access substantially higher data allowances and speeds than elsewhere.

NBN Co is currently running a nationwide pilot of a new commercial product offering maximum wholesale speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20Mbps upload on its fixed wireless TD-LTE network.

The Ovum report finds that the current 25/5 Mbps product is offered at very competitive prices by retail service providers (RSPs) Telstra and iiNet, but that the NBN's TD-LTE technology can support future download speeds well in excess of 100Mbps.

“NBN’s high upload speed will support more symmetric applications such as video conferencing and cloud services, which are important to businesses as well as consumers,” Ovum found.

While the report does not look at telehealth provision specifically, consistency and symmetry are seen as essential for certain telehealth services.

The fixed wireless network is being rolled out to rural and regional areas where fibre is not achievable.

Very remote areas are being covered by satellite, with two long-term satellites due to launch later this year. These promise wholesale speeds of a maximum 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload.

The Ovum report compared the NBN's data allowance, download speed, upload speed and price per GB of data with 21 international operators, and found that the local product was technically superior to its peers, offering high download allowances and high speeds compared to other wireless products.

“This allows NBN fixed wireless products to support a range of applications, particularly bandwidth-intensive video applications, which would not be possible on many peer networks,” Ovum found.

“This superiority will be entrenched as new LTE products are developed and launched in the future. The LTE standard provides for services over 100Mbps, so there is headroom for further development in the future.”

The local network will also have cheaper prices than on offer elsewhere, it found. Both the fixed wireless and satellite NBN builds are being cross-subsidised and prices are guaranteed to be the same as in urban areas through the national uniform wholesale pricing policy. However, the federal government plans to dump this policy in favour of price caps.

The report also found that the NBN's TD-LTE technology can support future download speeds well in excess of 100Mbps as well as much faster upload speeds.

“[The] TD flavour of LTE can support higher and more symmetric upload speeds than other wireless technologies. This will position rural Australia to gain new access to a host of applications at affordable prices, closing the gap between urban and rural Australia.”

The fixed wireless network will eventually cover approximately 600,000 premises, with about 268,000 premises now reached. It has 48,000 paying customers.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said end-users were receiving a reliable performance from the fixed wireless network.

“Thanks to competitive plans offered by our RSPs, NBN’s fixed wireless end-users in regional Australia are receiving value, speeds and data allowances that are opening up new opportunities in education and entertainment and business,” Mr Morrow said in a statement.

“We are already seeing examples of NBN network connected businesses increasing export opportunities, innovating ways of working or even able to remain in a regional location in an increasingly digital world.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Alan Taylor 2015-07-27 14:04
While further research is needed, results of Flinders University research on the real world experience of telehealth services using video conferencing on mobile data networks shows that "higher" through put speeds on wireless technologies does not by itself lead to more consistent user experience. This research showed that video conferencing on mobile data services experienced much higher failures of telehealth sessions. The inherent variability of wireless technology transmission when compared to NBN Fibre to the Home services may be the cause of this lack of consistency.
Any telehealth service intending to rely on NBN wireless services needs to conduct its own field tests, and have measures in place to provide services to clients when a wireless service becomes unreliable!

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