Telecommunications giant Huawei has brought NBN fixed wireless broadband issues back into the spotlight again and is pushing a 5G solution.
First, some history. There is a bit of bad blood between Huawei and the Australian Government.
China-headquartered Huawei, which was a core developer of 5th Generation Wireless (5G) technology, was banned from participating in Australia’s 5G rollout last year over security concerns. Prior to this occurring, the company published an open letter directed to Australian MPs declaring Huawei was “good and safe for Australia“. After being shunned in Australia, the company was also kneecapped on 5G by our cousins across the ditch in New Zealand.
Given its experiences here, in NZ and the USA, the company is understandably pretty darned cranky. That frustration re-emerged this week when Huawei Australia Chief Technology Officer David Soldani told delegates at the 5G Business Summit in Sydney the Federal Government must use 5G fixed wireless to deliver high-speed broadband to areas where the NBN hasn’t delivered. Currently, 4G is used.
While more towers and repeaters are required, a 5G broadband network can offer up to a million connections per square kilometer and is very, very fast.
“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,” said Mr. Soldani.
NBN fixed wireless broadband is used by approximately 280,000 Australians in regional and remote areas. A significant number of users have experienced problems due to congested cells on towers, something NBN Co is seeking to address. The issues facing fixed wireless users led Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission to recently publish a guide for affected customers.
$10K Per Connection
Mr. Soldani says it costs $10,000 to connect each premises on the NBN fixed wireless network, but “hundreds of sites” are only delivering speeds of 6Mbps or less at peak-time to customers.
The Huawei executive also leveled accusations that NBN Co. has been able to escape scrutiny for what he says is 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.”
A Different Approach Needed
Mr. Soldani has suggested encouraging mobile network operators to extend their regional networks and use their available spectrum to deliver 5G fixed wireless broadband services. Alternatively, Victoria’s lead could be followed – the state government and local councils have teamed up to contract private operators to deliver high-speed fixed wireless to regional customers.
Of course, there was a very strong hint dropped that Huawei’s lack of a role in Australia’s 5G rollout should be re-evaluated.
“It makes no sense for Australia to continue to exclude the world’s leading 5G technology provider from the marketplace,” said Mr. Soldani.
Further comments from the Huawei executive can be viewed here.