The full extent of the National Broadband Network’s (NBN) congested fixed wireless network has been revealed.
- New figures reveal dire congestion for NBN fixed wireless users
- NBN Co says it’s aware of the problems and is upgrading the network
- Labor claims NBN Co is making “short-sighted” decisions to complete the rollout on time
Eighteen locations have been identified as delivering speeds during peak times that are less than what the average Turkish internet user enjoyed in 2012, according to historical figures from internet company Akamai.
NBN Co stated in an answer to a Senate estimates question that 25 cells across 18 towers were dropping below 3 Mbps (megabit per second) during peak times. Multiple fixed wireless cells may be located on a single tower.
“NBN is prioritising work to address congestion on these towers and many on this list are scheduled to have work completed by April 2018,” the answer read.
The fixed wireless network serves about 5 per cent of homes, and relies on data being sent wirelessly to homes from towers in regional areas where NBN Co deemed it too expensive to roll out fibre optic cable.
While some fixed wireless towers are congested, the average busy-hour speed across all cells in February was 25 Mbps — approximately suitable for streaming a high-definition movie and browsing the web on another device.
However, fewer than one in two cells across the country can secure this speed, according to additional information provided in Senate estimates.
|Busy hour speed||% of total cells|
|Less than 3 Mbps||Less than 1|
|More than 25 Mbps||46|
The full list of towers delivering busy-hour speeds less than 3 Mbps is provided below.
These speeds may not reflect actual speeds experienced by users. Actual speeds are affected by the speed tier purchased, available capacity, number of simultaneous users, and the bandwidth bought by the telcos.
NBN Co making ‘short-sighted’ decisions: Labor
Stephen Jones, Labor’s spokesman for regional communications, said he was “concerned” about whether the fixed wireless network could handle Australians’ growing appetite for downloads.
“With overall data consumption increasing by 40 per cent every 12 months and more and more customers finding themselves shifted off fixed-line services, particularly in outer metropolitan and outer regional centres, it’s clear that a more proactive approach is needed across the whole network,” he said.
Mr Jones argues more homes are planned to receive fixed wireless now, compared to the network design under the previous Labor government.
“There is a legitimate concern that short-sighted decisions around technology are being made by NBN in an attempt to offload cost increases in its fixed-line footprint and complete the NBN rollout as quickly as possible,” Mr Jones said.
NBN Co directed ABC enquiries to a two-month-old blog post by Gavin Williams, executive general manager for access products, warning of potential interruptions while fixed wireless towers are being upgraded.
“We have seen a significant spike in the amount of data being used in recent months, particularly in peak times,” it reads.
“We regret any inconvenience this may cause and ask for your understanding as we perform these vital upgrades.”
About 230,000 homes have signed up to a fixed wireless connection so far, out of 588,000 that are deemed “ready to connect”.
In areas that cannot be served either by fixed-line or fixed wireless connections, homes must connect to the NBN via satellite — a technology has also been plagued by congestion and reliability issues.
Towers with speeds dropping below 3 Mbps in peak times:
- Bees Creek
- Clunes North
- Howard Springs
- Howard Springs North
- Humpty Doo
- Mailors Flat
- Tinana West