Huawei Australia CTO David Soldani has warned delegates at the 5G Business Summit in Sydney that the Federal Government must find ways to use 5G Fixed Wireless to deliver high-speed broadband to areas where the National Broadband Network (NBN) has failed to deliver on its promise – or risk leaving hundreds of thousands of Australians on low-speed broadband.
“As the completion of the National Broadband Network comes into view it's time to face a very simple fact: The NBN project has failed and Australians needs to stop expecting NBN Co to deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians – it is just not going to happen,” Soldani told delegates.
Soldani warned that with neither major political party dedicating any additional significant funding to the NBN at May's Federal Election that the hundreds of thousands of end-users on congested Fixed Wireless services or those on long copper Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) lines had no chance of getting improved services.
“Australia has somehow managed to invest $51 billion on a network that can't even deliver 50Mbps to around one million of its fixed-broadband end-user premises,” Soldani said.
“In fact, the actual cost of the NBN is much than that given that reports suggest that NBN Co is paying Telstra around $100 billion in subscriber migration and lease payments over the coming years.
“We have spent around $10,000 for every activated premise on the NBN Fixed Wireless network and yet hundreds of sites are only delivering 6Mbps or less at peak-time to end-users – worse speeds than many were getting on old ADSL services.
Soldani commented that the most extraordinary part of the NBN Co Fixed Wireless debacle has been the fact that the sole vendor responsible for the project has been able to escape scrutiny for its role in mishandling the deployment.
“Indeed, rather than the Federal Government ask serious questions about how they may be culpable for what has gone wrong with NBN Fixed Wireless they have actually delivered them an even bigger role in delivering our crucial 5G infrastructure by excluding Huawei from the 5G market.
With significant additional Federal Government funding now looking very unlikely Soldani warned that the Federal Government must urgently look at bringing new models to the table that facilitate the delivery of 5G Fixed Wireless services into areas where the NBN has failed.
“Firstly, let's stop pretending that NBN Co can do this whole thing by itself – we now know that it can't. There is simply no more money in the pot. That's it,” Soldani said.
“We know that in these outer-suburban and regional areas that the mobile operators have plenty of spare spectrum available because there are very low population densities in those areas.
“So, using the hugely successful Mobile Blackspot program as a template why not encourage the mobile network operators to extend their regional networks and use that available spectrum to deliver 5G Fixed Wireless services to consumers?
“Alternatively, we could look to take a leaf out of what has been happening in Victoria where the state government and local council have collaborated to deliver a contract to private operators to deliver high-speed Fixed Wireless services of up to 1Gbps to regional end-users.
Soldani added that it made little sense to allow NBN Co to move forward with 5G Fixed Wireless services given that the network's problematic pricing model actively discouraged RSPs from even offering ultra-fast broadband – with the bulk of end-users opting for 50Mbps packages.
“The much-criticized NBN pricing structure means that 1Gbps speeds are currently priced at over $350/month – so if we want to make high-speed 5G Fixed Wireless available to regional Australians then there is little point trying to do it via the NBN,” Soldani said.
Soldani made the point that if 5G Fixed Wireless services are going to play a critical role in delivering truly universal broadband that the Federal Government should finally allow Australians access to the best 5G technology available.
“It makes no sense for Australia to continue to exclude the world's leading 5G technology provider from the marketplace,” he said.
“In the last couple of weeks alone Huawei has been the technology provider of choice to 5G launches from both EE in the UK and Vodafone in Spain – with plenty more to come in due course.
“The technology is already there to solve the challenges Australia is facing – there is no doubt about that – what we need now is for that technology to be allowed to do what it was designed to do and for our leaders to recognize that we need to adopt a different approach with regard to delivering universal high-speed broadband.