Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wireless Broadband for Regional Australia

NBN trounced by regional offering from locals with an eye for enterprise wireless broadband being offered in the town of Harden in New South Wales.

South Western Wireless Communications is offering broadband from $19.95 a month. But the customer has to purchase the Customer-premises equipment (CPE) and it is not clear what frequencies (licensed or unlicensed) are being used.

I get a mention in the article with my likening the of ALP and Coalition broadband proposals as being like the choice between a Lexus and a 10-year-old Camry and suggesting what younger customers want is wireless broadband.

The distinction between fixed wireless and mobile broadband is now largely one of business model, rather than technology. Ericsson were contracted by NBN Co. to provide a 4G / LTE TDD for fixed wireless rural broadband. The base stations and protocols used are essentially the same as for mobile broadband. The difference is that the customer receives the service via an antenna fixed to their home or business, rather than via a mobile device.

Both ALP and Collation broadband proposals have aimed at fixed location home and small business users. Also these have assumed a high density of new users served by new fibre into each home or terminated at new equipment cabinets in each street connecting the last few hundred metres of copper cable.

The major cost with FTTP is running the cable from street to the home, with FTTN, is installing new optical cabinets  in the street and reconnecting all the copper cables to it. However, an alternative would be to install the optical fibre in the street and then only connecting customers as they require a service. For FTTN, this would require rugged miniature waterproof optical modems, which could be installed in existing pits and cabinets. When a customer ordered a service, the technician would open the pit in the street outside the house and place an optical modem in it. This would be plugged into a fibre cable and power. Copper cable can be used for up to 1 GBPS, but limited to a distance of about 100 m. So each modem need only be designed to provide service to about eight to sixteen homes.

If the customer wanted FTTH, this would require a cable to be run though the existing conduit, or more likely, a new trench and conduit laid, at the householder's expense.

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