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NBN should pause fixed-wireless sales to fix congestion: Aussie Broadband

Aussie Broadband has called on the National Broadband Network (NBN) company to potentially pause its fixed-wireless rollout in the same way it halted sales on its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network earlier this month, saying it needs to repair issues with congestion. These issues caused the network technology to be quietly excluded from NBN’s new wholesale pricing structure unveiled last week, Aussie Broadband argued on Monday. “Prolonged tower congestion in some areas of the NBN fixed-wireless network … would negate any increases in speed that would be offered by the new pricing,” Aussie Broadband MD Phillip Britt said.

“As a result, rural and regional Australians in NBN fixed-wireless areas will most likely be paying more for a lower-quality service when compared to their city counterparts. “We are disappointed NBN has not yet publicly acknowledged the issues with its fixed-wireless network, despite complaints from providers such as ourselves for over 12 months. “Aussie Broadband would like the NBN to commit to fixing the fixed-wireless network in the same way as it recently committed to fixing the HFC network in metro areas, including implementing a stop-sell on congested fixed-wireless towers if necessary.”

Once the issues are repaired, fixed-wireless should be subject to NBN’s new wholesale pricing, Britt added. “Fixed-wireless should be included in the new pricing structure along with the other access types to ensure the current digital divide between metro and regional areas is narrowed, not widened, by the NBN rollout,” he said.

An NBN spokesperson told ZDNet that it would engage with industry on fixed-wireless pricing initiatives in 2018, and that there is already a system for working through any congestion issues. “The vast majority of our fixed-wireless network is uncongested, and the vast majority of fixed-wireless end users are receiving a great service,” the spokesperson added.

“We have a program of work in place to resolve fixed-wireless congestion issues. Work is well under way to remediate cells on towers to provide for more capacity. “NBN does not intend to implement a stop-sell on congested fixed-wireless towers.”

NBN last week set up 50Mbps as the flagship speed[1] for its services, unveiling a new fixed-line wholesale pricing structure designed to provide discounts for retailers offering services on its 100Mbps and 50Mbps speed tiers. Under the changes, NBN’s access and bandwidth charges will be bundled together across connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) and access virtual circuit (AVC) for the two top-tier plans. The 50Mbps wholesale bundle will cost retail service providers AU£45 per month — a 27 percent discount — and include 2Mbps of bandwidth, while the 100Mbps wholesale bundle will be reduced by 10 percent to cost AU£65 for 2.5Mbps of included capacity.

“Aussie Broadband welcomes the concept of wholesale bundled offers which includes a certain amount of CVC per user at a lower cost than the current pricing, as well as lowering the price of additional bandwidth for these bundled products,” Britt said. “We believe these elements will assist in encouraging providers to provision adequate CVC to customers, as well as levelling the playing field between large and small RSPs.” In order to improve its fixed-wireless network, NBN last week spent AU£4 million on mobile broadband spectrum[2], involving AU£2.1 million on 3.5MHz in the 3.4GHz band in Hobart and Launceston; AU£1.6 million on 35MHz in the 2.3GHz band in Cameron Corner and Geraldton/Kalgoorlie; and AU£326,000 on 98MHz in the 2.3GHz band in Delamere.

The fixed-wireless network is slated to connect 600,000 premises in regional areas by using a 4G-like service where it is considered uneconomical to roll out fixed-line access, and will next year launch a 100/40Mbps product[3]. NBN has also shown the network being capable of speeds of up to 1Gbps[4] when utilising a combination of carrier aggregation, fibre backhaul, multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), and quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology. Aussie Broadband’s call for a halt to the fixed-wireless rollout follows NBN’s decision last month to cease sales on its HFC network[5] for between six and nine months while it remedied customer experience issues.

This followed Aussie Broadband telling ZDNet back in July that it was escalating 30 percent of its HFC connections[6] to NBN due to such issues. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield described the HFC repairs as involving the taps connecting the cable in the street with the cable inside the home and an issue involving spectrum frequency[7] causing network dropouts for some customers. With 3.1 million premises in the HFC footprint, NBN CEO Bill Morrow told ZDNet that 370,000 are already connected and an additional 50,000 are queued to be connected.

All remaining premises slated to be connected by HFC will see delays of between six and nine months. The delay will taper down over the next 18 months, he explained, and as a result “will not jeopardise the rollout being complete by 2020”. According to Telstra CEO Andy Penn, the HFC network is working well for existing Telstra and Foxtel services, and the issues cropped up during NBN’s works[8].

Penn also said the HFC pause will cost Telstra AU£600 million[9] in EBITDA, AU£700 million in total income, AU£200 million in free cashflow, and AU£600 million in net one-off NBN receipts over FY18.

Related Coverage

ACCC kicks off NBN wholesale service levels inquiry[10] The ACCC is seeking feedback on whether NBN’s current negotiated wholesale service levels provide incentives for improving customer experience and repairing faults. TPG NBN 100 plan only hits 50Mbps at peak times as 25Mbps plan killed off[11]

The telco has responded to the NBN wholesale price changes by removing its 25Mbps plan and revealing typical evening speeds. Optus hauled to court over allegations of misleading NBN HFC customers[12] Optus misled customers by giving them a shorter timeframe to migrate to NBN services than contractually allowed, the ACCC has alleged, and by implying that they could only buy NBN services from Optus.

Telstra spends AU£72m on mobile broadband spectrum[13] Telstra has spent AU£72.5 million on mobile broadband spectrum, including more than AU£55 million in Brisbane alone, while NBN, TPG, Vodafone, and Optus also purchased additional spectrum during the auction. NBN sets up 50Mbps as flagship speed under new wholesale pricing[14]

NBN will be offering bundled AVC and CVC pricing to retailers as of Q2 next year, with discounts across the 50Mbps and 100Mbps tiers designed to drive uptake of higher-speed plans. Optus to refund NBN FttN customers for slow speeds due to technical limits[15] Almost half of all customers on an Optus FttN connection could not hit 100Mbps, and over 20 percent could not get 50Mbps.

Not prudent to have NBN line tests prior to service: Morrow[16]

It would be impracticable to conduct line tests prior to Australians signing with a retailer to connect to the NBN, CEO Bill Morrow has said.

References

  1. ^ 50Mbps as the flagship speed (www.zdnet.com)
  2. ^ spent AU£4 million on mobile broadband spectrum (www.zdnet.com)
  3. ^ 100/40Mbps product (www.zdnet.com)
  4. ^ speeds of up to 1Gbps (www.zdnet.com)
  5. ^ cease sales on its HFC network (www.zdnet.com)
  6. ^ escalating 30 percent of its HFC connections (www.zdnet.com)
  7. ^ issue involving spectrum frequency (www.zdnet.com)
  8. ^ issues cropped up during NBN’s works (www.zdnet.com)
  9. ^ HFC pause will cost Telstra AU£600 million (www.zdnet.com)
  10. ^ ACCC kicks off NBN wholesale service levels inquiry (www.zdnet.com)
  11. ^ TPG NBN 100 plan only hits 50Mbps at peak times as 25Mbps plan killed off (www.zdnet.com)
  12. ^ Optus hauled to court over allegations of misleading NBN HFC customers (www.zdnet.com)
  13. ^ Telstra spends AU£72m on mobile broadband spectrum (www.zdnet.com)
  14. ^ NBN sets up 50Mbps as flagship speed under new wholesale pricing (www.zdnet.com)
  15. ^ Optus to refund NBN FttN customers for slow speeds due to technical limits (www.zdnet.com)
  16. ^ Not prudent to have NBN line tests prior to service: Morrow (www.zdnet.com)

ACCC asks Australians to sign up for broadband speed tests

ACCC Asks Australians To Sign Up For Broadband Speed Tests

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is calling on Australians to be part of a program that will measure and compare broadband speeds across the country. Under the program, hardware will be installed in around 4,000 households over four years, beginning with 2,000 volunteers in the first year. The devices will do remote testing to determine typical speeds on fixed-line NBN services at various times throughout the day. The ACCC said the broadband speeds program will also help it determine if issues relating to poor speeds at peak times are being caused by the performance of the NBN or the network management decisions made by ISPs.

Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about internet data speeds increased 48 per cent during 2015-16, making it the single largest issue for consumer complaints during the year.

“Australians spend over $4 billion per year on fixed broadband services and currently many consumers are left angry, frustrated, and dissatisfied by services that don’t deliver the peak speeds that are promised,” said ACCC acting chair, Delia Rickard.

“The volunteers will be helping to produce accurate, transparent, and comparable information about the quality and reliability of the fixed line broadband services available in their area. This will lead to more competition and better value for money for broadband services,” she added. The competition watchdog said it was also investigating examples of where ISPs may have misled consumers in relation to their broadband speeds and other issues related to consumer guarantees that may raise concerns under Australian Consumer Law. On April 7, the federal government said it would fund the broadband performance monitoring program.

The ACCC went to tender on May 30 for an independent testing provider for the program. The ACCC will finalise the volunteer panel around September to commence testing and provide the first performance reports by the end of the year. The panel will comprise customers from several ISPs over a range of broadband technologies and different retail speeds and plans.

The majority of the testing will be on NBN services but there will be some testing of other next-generation services and ADSL technologies in the early part of the program, the ACCC said.

ACCC Asks Australians To Sign Up For Broadband Speed Tests Read more NBN starts FTTC deployment1

Consumers can sign up here.
2

Read more: Launceston’s NBN 10 times faster than everyone else’s3

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Tags Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)ADSLacccnational broadband networkDelia RickardbroadbandNBN4567891011

References

  1. ^ NBN starts FTTC deployment (www.cio.com.au)
  2. ^ here (consultation.accc.gov.au)
  3. ^ Launceston’s NBN 10 times faster than everyone else’s (www.cio.com.au)
  4. ^ Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) (www.cio.com.au)
  5. ^ Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) (www.cio.com.au)
  6. ^ ADSL (www.cio.com.au)
  7. ^ accc (www.cio.com.au)
  8. ^ national broadband network (www.cio.com.au)
  9. ^ Delia Rickard (www.cio.com.au)
  10. ^ broadband (www.cio.com.au)
  11. ^ NBN (www.cio.com.au)

MyRepublic continues quest to shake up Aussie broadband market

MyRepublic Continues Quest To Shake Up Aussie Broadband Market

(L-R) MyRepublic CEO, Malcolm Rodrigues, New Zealand managing director, Vaughan Baker, and Australia managing director, Nicholas Demos.

Upstart internet service provider (ISP), MyRepublic, has continued its quest to make waves in the Australian market with the introduction of “Ultra-Fast Internet” for a select number of small to medium businesses (SMBs) and residents in Wollongong. The Singapore-based company said it will provide speeds up to 40 times faster than the typical National Broadband Network (NBN) speeds currently offered to the local community. In a move seemingly intended to raise its local brand awareness, the company launched a “competition” inviting entrants to say why speeds of up to 1Gbps are important to them.

The winning entry was from a Wollongong resident, and now the company plans to turn on free speed upgrades to the NBN 1Gbps nominal access speed for a year within a 10km radius of the winner’s address. MyRepublic said it will heavily subsidise the cost of delivering the 1Gpbs internet speeds to Wollongong customers as it creates a “Gigatown” to “demonstrate the benefits Ultra-Fast Next Generation Fibre can deliver – and show Australians hunger for reasonably priced access to higher speed, premium fibre products.”

While the value of the subsidy is yet to be publicly given a dollar value, it could end up being fairly substantial, given that a recent deployment in Launceston by local Telco, Launtel, was charging approximately $1000 per month1 for a gigabit service. MyRepublic said that in July it will offer unlimited broadband on the 1Gbps speed tier to a limited number of new customers in Wollongong for $129.99 per month on a 12-month term.

“MyRepublic has been instrumental in delivering affordable 1Gbps speeds in Singapore and New Zealand, so we can’t wait to transform Wollongong into a Gigatown and let locals experience real Ultra-Fast connections to their residences, businesses and communities,” MyRepublic Australia managing director, Nicholas Demos, said.

“This is the first time an ISP has made the premium 1Gbps nbn service available to consumers and we are excited to see the difference it can make for our customers,” he said.

MyRepublic Continues Quest To Shake Up Aussie Broadband Market Read more Will nbn’s new pricing discount boost reseller buy-in?2

In fact, MyRepublic is the second company to offer such speeds but is the first to heavily subsidise costs for consumers. Launtel consumers in Launceston have been able to access a gigabit service since 30 May, but the price is beyond the realm of what is affordable for most consumers.

“Obviously, things like streaming and gaming will be a better experience, but we will also demonstrate how Australia should be taking advantage of the digital economy. We need to open up more opportunities for people to be able to work remotely, reducing the requirement for commuting and drive innovation – generating real economic and social benefits like more jobs, improve efficiency and economic growth,” Demos added.

In late 2016, the company’s CEO, Malcolm Rodrigues, told ARN that he expected to prompt local telecommunications providers to change the way they do business within months3.

Read More:
MyRepublic Continues Quest To Shake Up Aussie Broadband Market

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Tags I GbpsMyRepublicNBN456

References

  1. ^ recent deployment in Launceston by local Telco, Launtel, was charging approximately $1000 per month (www.arnnet.com.au)
  2. ^ Will nbn’s new pricing discount boost reseller buy-in? (www.arnnet.com.au)
  3. ^ expected to prompt local telecommunications providers to change the way they do business within months (www.arnnet.com.au)
  4. ^ I Gbps (www.arnnet.com.au)
  5. ^ MyRepublic (www.arnnet.com.au)
  6. ^ NBN (www.arnnet.com.au)