Innovative software a world-first for Australia’s fixed wireless network
NBN Co has announced a world first that will see the nationwide deployment of Ericsson’s extended-range software to improve broadband coverage, speed and reliability# for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across regional Australia.
The announcement, made by nbn and Ericsson at the Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona, makes nbn the first operator in the world to deploy this software across a commercial network – part of a broader upgrade program to expand the reach of the existing nbn® Fixed Wireless footprint, enable enhanced busy hour speeds and offer two new higher-speed fixed wireless plans##.
Developed by Ericsson, the long-range software supports a transmission range for 5G mmWave technology of up to 6.9km using advanced beamforming techniques and machine learning, in combination with existing technology, to allow for an increased use of the radio frequency spectrum to boost capacity and reduce congestion for customers.
The software was successfully trialled at one of nbn’s research and development test sites, in Victoria, Australia, where the companies – along with industry partners – have achieved long-range 5G mmWave transmissions of over 10km in recent field tests.
Deployment of the software is the first key initiative under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which extends the long-standing partnership between nbn and Ericsson built on research and development, skill sharing and innovation in fixed wireless technologies.
In addition to validating Ericsson’s software in a commercial network, the partnership reflects a collective ambition to extend the range of nbn’s commercial 5G mmWave network in the future.
Jason Ashton, nbn Executive General Manager for Fixed Wireless and Satellite, said:
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Ericsson in the exploration, testing and demonstration of new technologies that extend both organisations’ engineering capabilities and support the transfer of knowledge.
“We’ve been undertaking extensive testing of 5G mmWave for several years and this new software offers cost-effective and spectrum-efficient ways to integrate 5G into our evolving network architecture. It demonstrates capabilities that are just the start of what is possible with 5G mmWave.
“It is exciting to be pushing the boundaries of this technology.”
Emilio Romeo, Head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, said:
“The nbn Fixed Wireless network is a critical enabler to a digital Australia. I am pleased that our decade-long relationship with nbn continues to evolve, allowing Ericsson to build precise solutions to support nbn in enhancing its network.
“We are leading the way with innovation to extend the range of 5G, which is critical to closing the digital divide and enabling a better experience for Australians across the country.”
In an increasingly digitally connected world and continually evolving technology environment, building, upgrading and maintaining the nbn network is a critical part of growing ahead of demand.
Last week nbn announced the trial of a new Sky Muster® Plus plan that the company hopes will allow it to provide faster speeds and even more unmetered data to satellite customers from late 2023. Features of any final product are subject to change.
Earlier this month, the company also announced that an additional one million households and businesses – up to 58 per cent in regional areas – would get access to faster and more reliable broadband, as the rollout of full fibre to the premises continues across the country.
These announcements follow last year’s announcement from nbn and the Australian Government of an additional $750 million investment to the nbn fixed wireless and satellite footprint to extend the reach of existing Fixed Wireless coverage by at least 50 per cent, as well as enabling faster speeds.
nbn will use 4G technology and software enhancements as well as introducing 5G mmWave technology to help extend coverage, minimise congestion and offer access to higher speed tiers on the nbn Fixed Wireless network##.
nbn will be among the first in the world to deploy 5G mmWave technology at this scale for a dedicated fixed wireless network.
# Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn network, depends on the nbn access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to your premises, whether you are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside nbn’s control (like your equipment quality, software, broadband plan, signal reception, and (with the exception of Sky Muster Plus) how your service provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods.
## nbn is a wholesaler and end customers should contact their preferred service provider to ask about availability. Any new speed tiers or changes to Fixed Wireless products is subject to consultation with industry which may alter the design, contractual terms, product specifications and/or go-to-market approach. The planned wholesale download speeds for Fixed Wireless Home Fast and Fixed Wireless Home Superfast are potential maximum Information Rates. They are not Peak Information Rates or Committed Information Rates. nbn expects it will operate similarly to how the Fixed Wireless Plus product operates today but with potential maximum wholesale speeds up to 100 Mbps for Fixed Wireless Home Fast and up to 250 Mbps Fixed Wireless Home Superfast.