Regional NBN users to get faster download speeds, but upload speeds to halve – Politics
Regional Australians are being promised faster online speeds by NBN Co in an upcoming tweak to the technology used to deliver fixed wireless internet.
- Fixed wireless users will be given faster maximum download speeds
- But a technology tweak means the upload speed will halve
- The commitment of delivering at least 6Mbps during busy periods will not change
However, it won’t do anything for speeds at the busiest time, and the increased download speeds will mean a halving of the maximum upload speeds.
The fixed wireless network, which uses mobile phone technology to provide broadband internet, currently delivers internet to more than 260,000 homes mostly in regional areas, but more than 600,000 are in the planned rollout.
The first phase of changes will occur in July next year, when the maximum download speed will increase from 50 to 60 megabits per second with no change to the upload.
Then, in March 2020, the download speed will increase again to 75 megabits per second — but upload speeds will be halved.
Only those on 50Mbps download plans will be affected, approximately half of all fixed wireless users.
The price NBN Co charges retailers for access will not change.
Download over upload
NBN Co claims the changes have been prompted by tweaks to spectrum licensing arrangements that make better use of the available spectrum.
However, the changes highlight the limits of the fixed wireless technology.
The 100Mbps download and 40Mbps upload services are commonplace for metropolitan NBN users, and plans offering 10 times those speeds are also available.
NBN Co spokesman Brad Whitcomb said it was committed to delivering access to fast broadband for regional and rural Australians.
“People connected to fixed wireless are using their service with a ratio of 10-to-1 downloads compared to uploads,” Mr Whitcomb said.
NBN Co is formally committed to ensuring that all fixed wireless users can access 6Mbps download speed — enough for a high resolution movie stream — during the busiest period in evenings.
The changes are likely to affect those that rely on fast upload speeds, such as video editors or those livestreaming from regional areas.
The fixed wireless network has proven controversial, with recent incidents including:
NBN Co has spent almost $2 billion on fixed wireless infrastructure so far and is currently upgrading its network to ensure speeds are adequate during busy periods.
Mr Whitcomb acknowledged some users were experiencing slower speeds than anticipated and said they could expect “some fluctuation over the next few months as we scale up our efforts”.