CHOICE membership

NBN fixed wireless

An interesting situation?

The NBN Co and your current ISP/telco typically pester you with numerous letters etc asking you to change over to the NBN once it is available to your property. They have been known to get it wrong and forget some customers in an area.

What does the NBN rollout update map say when you search for your exact property address?

It will say something about the status such as
Planned for and a date,
Or build commenced,
Or service available,
Or service connected?

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Hi Mark,we were notified NBN was available,Telstra and TPG both say Fixed Wireless available, other than that nothing has come of it, if congestion is the problem that would explain it. I have been told to stay with ADSL for as long as possible by some friends but I didn’t know why.


Thanks for the reply It asks a very significant new question re NBN policy?

True there are a small number of heavily congested FW tower sites, according to the NBN Co.

The NBN Co though does not release any individual site data, so no one knows which sites. Additionally no one knows exactly how well their local FW site is performing relative to other FW or the NBN as a whole.

The NBN Co has released some over the entire FW network averaged results. It’s been suggested these provide a very limited view. A view that is not fully representative of individual customer experience.

Anecdotal feedback from many customers suggests that the FW network has numerous issues. The most significant is a loss of performance at peak evening time. The slow down may be worse than a good ADSL2 service! Hence the advice you may have from others. Look to early posts and you might notice Telstra’s FW tiers assume you may only get 2Mbps on even the fastest tier!

I’d prefer to say the NBN FW is a step up for many rural users who had previously zero internet or very slow ADSL. The NBN Co however deserves every criticism of its FW solution in not advising new customers more openly and honestly of the circumstances at their local tower.

Perhaps the NBN Co has an unpublicised policy to not add new customers to a tower that has insufficent capacity as you suggest?

Feel free to add any other advice your prospective RSP’s offer or updates from the NBN Co.

P.S. some properties fail the NBN Co signal strength test. Reports from others would suggest you should have been advised by now if that was the circumstance. The NBN Co is also considering swinging some customers at the edges of Fixed Line services over to FTTC. While it has suggested numbers it is not suggesting which sites or areas.

Although not FW - Aussie Broadband is offering to connect our city town house per a letter in the mail yesterday - saying our area now has service! The NBN Co thinks not! We are still listed as under construction.

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Costs of satellite and fixed wireless are substantial. Over time, the cost of optical fibre is trivial.

The target is equity. Equality is probably not achievable. Pretending that fixed wireless is a permanent solution is not optimally equitable. Satellite is similar, if not worse.

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Agree wholeheartedly that FW is a move up for those with nothing, but FW in a fairly densely populated area or one that has fibre close enough to connect every house is an abysmal failure and needs condemnation.

What is the cost per km for fibre delivered and installed anyway?

I had in mind the sheep station that is 200 km from anything. The incremental cost of servicing that property with optical fibre is high. The property itself would very likely not be willing to pay it. It is arguable that it is an unreasonable burden on the taxpayer.

The incremental cost for satellite is much less I expect (tech has to do minimum 400 km round trip, supply and install modem and dish).

That is what I meant by a certain amount of non-uniformity (inequality) is unavoidable.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t set a basic minimum standard bandwidth that everyone can get. It just won’t be 1 Gbit/sec.

This is well off-topic, so I started a new topic:

A revealing Facebook post:

How is Fixed Wireless Connections and Uptake going?

I haven’t attempted this before as nbn pdf’s make it very difficult. I’ve used the short form quarterly update which commences 1st Quarter 2016.


I’ve charted the % take up over time, premises available for connection and active connections.

The nbn FW plan oddly assumed a 25% take up of service.

nbn clung to this unrealistic figure for way way too long, severely overloading a system built to meet the 25% take up.

Figured farmers didn’t need internet???

Way too hard to fathom.

nbn’s solution?

nbn doubled the number of customers per carrier to meet the increased take up … and the wheels fell off. nbn connected up to 106 instead of 56 per carrier.

Congestion ‘killed’ the busy FW sectors on the network.

nbn are now scrambling to fix the mess with a $0.8 Billion upgrade planned over 18 months

The revised nbn take up prediction is … 50%.

The revised number of FW customers per 20Mhz carrier is now 56; which will deliver 6Mb/s in the busy period and better off peak.

Note: Those customers on tower sectors (cells) with low a customer connection count, should have a trouble free service.

Blind Freddy could see what was happening!!!

It’s useful to see the FW roll out in an easy to read chart.

It is another way of showing that the final number of customers in the FW footprint is continuing to increase behind the total of 600,000 indicated by the NBN Co annual report. Industry commentary suggests the FW footprint includes close to 700,000 premises.

The reported take up rate for FW at 50% may also be a poor basis for determining the current and future network capacity requirements.

The NBN Co reports forecast a 73-75% takeup rate average for the NBN.

FW will need to accommodate a similar outcome. IE 75% of 0.7M premises or 525,000 connections to FW. That’s twice the 265,000 reported connected at the start of this year 2019!

It’s worth considering:
the FW network construction is incomplete in areas - more customers still to account for,
that many customers in the FW areas are holding out on connecting for now - your copper will not be turned off,
and the total of customers unable to achieve adequate service signal remains unknown?

In addition to the pressure of many more customers yet to join the FW network, peak data demand is also likely under estimated.

Peak demand reflects what customers can get. Not what they require!
There is also a tendency to under estimate peak demand with some customers avoiding peak time use when performance is unacceptable.

A second observation is that the additional $800M being provided for FW to address congestion may not make any real difference. It is also approximately the value of funds required to accommodate a further 200,000 FW customers at the current average cost per connection. A risk for consumers is the added expenditure will simply spread the current congestion across a much larger number including the newer customers!

Simply put - it is the lack of performance of the NBN that is creating the gap in uptake of FW, when compared with Fixed Line, and not any lack of demand. The NBN Co has previously admitted it underestimated significantly the demand for service in the expanded FW footprint.

The NBN Co has approx 2,300 transmitting sites (towers) registered across Australia.

Each site has a designed backhaul capacity, coverage, installed/available data capacity (allocated spectrum), estimate of premises in service area etc etc. Presented for public inspection site by site would aid the discussion on the best way forward.

In May 2014 an NBN Satellite and Fixed Wireless and Satellite Review was prepared for the then Minister Malcom Turnbull.

There is a long bedtime read in the document. :sleeping:Checking many of the details against current outcomes could be all consuming?:dizzy_face:

It is easy to suggest many of the current issues with the FW delivery and outcomes, are self evident in the review. :shushing_face:

These include the capacity constraints of the FW and Satellite services. And a forewarning that the majority of FW customers were near urban premises, rather than remote properties. There is every indication that of the 600,000 in the planned FW area uptake could be up to 400,000 or more? There are also references to future capital needs, and a best efforts data rate of up to 25/5Mbps. :lying_face:

It is often useful to be able to refer to original source documents. :wink:

It would be easy to suggest that the subsequent marketing of the NBN FW service has been misleading? What was intended for FW was an average capacity of as low as 1Mbps of capacity per customer. (1200 fixed towers, up to 90MHz of available bandwidth in the 2.3GHz band, 14km maximum range, 20% coverage within footprint)

Happy to see some one who knows the NBN design and radio communications do the numbers exactly, if that matters at all?

A week’s download figures, averaged:

To minimise data consumption, tests were conducted only every two hours. Even so, I’ll not continue testing - need to conserve some of my data allowance.

The service download speed is nominally 50 Mb/s. RSP is Skymesh. Local tower is Mount View Rd, in the Hunter Valley. Target server is Telstra, Sydney.

This is a pretty typical peak-period PingPlot.

The red bars are dropped packets.


Thank you for sharing the performance data @n3m0.

Not a lot to look forward to when they get around to building a tower to cover our home near Glass House by your observations. Assuming the NBN can sort out the build site?

I suspect our existing ADSL2+ service is better at peak hour. Although for an early riser it is still well short of 50Mbps!

It would be interesting to hear the experiences of any one recently signing onto a FW plan. The attached ACCC “recommendation” to the industry asks a lot of the seller. Whether it is observed as intended is the key question.

Perhaps Telstra and the NBN is using the 2Mbps minimum on all FW plans to avoid revealing anything meaningful?

The ACCC wants to see as much of that information as possible passed to the prospective consumer during the sign-up process so they are aware of what they might receive.

In marketing material, RSPs are likely to offer a disclosure that “could contain words to the effect of ‘actual speeds for fixed wireless services to be confirmed’.”

Where RSPs do have good information about a fixed wireless service, they will have to pass it to consumers.

They would only be permitted to accept an order “if the maximum attainable speed of the connection is sufficient to meet the off peak speed specification of the plan that the consumer has expressed interest in ordering, and the service location is not in a congested cell.”

Will this potentially lead to a que of customers not signing up once their requested speed is declined by the RSP? Noted there is an extra $800M in kitty for FW improvement. But no detailed publically released network data or detailed expenditure plan to assess or measure the spend against.

Will anyone be tracking the numbers in waiting, and obviously those with dud plans already on the NBN with no way out? Simply dropping a speed tier is not the solution.

Will the NBN Co simply tick a box for 50% take-up of FW, announce “mission accomplished” and sale off into the sunset of the privatisation sale?


Another problem with NBN fixed wireless, I was having a chat by phone over a Mobile phone problem when I asked about our NBN connection after i said I applied mid 2017 and mid 2018. I was told my application had been cancelled both times, not by us though, I now have to apply again. There’s another problem somewhere there I think.

Who were you chatting with? How is it that after applying 2 years ago and 1 year ago you, you decided to ask about this missing connection? It sounds like that was not why you called. It is very hard for me to work out what you are saying, who to and what may have happened. Did you ask how the previous applications were cancelled? What was the reply?

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Hi, first this column is about NBN but about our mobile phones, I’m porting our phones from TPG Vodaphone to Boost[Telstra], mine took 4 hrs, my wifes 2weeks later still not working,got SMS and letter to call Telstra so thats why we were talking to Telstra originally. Because of privacy issues we both had to supply relevant info and ended up in my Telstra MY ACCOUNT where she listed all our services including our ADSL2 with Telstra. I mentioned we had applied for NBN fixed wireless with Telstra[including Foxtel bundle]. After supplying another round of ID for privacy laws we were told out applications had been cancelled. My wife then asked why hadn’t we be told and were told a number of reasons etc we changed our mind . This makes it difficult when you are waiting for call from Tech to come to our house to check signal strength. Due to the amount of annoying SPAM calls we get on all phones, if call isn’t in our contacts list, we wait to hear message before deciding to answer. Maybe NBN policy is not to leave messages so we would have missed their call. After all that my wifes phone still hasn’t ported to BOOST and I have to talk to a Telstra rep again on Monday to apply for third time for NBN fixed wireless.

Maybe you should find out why the application was cancelled twice before. Just applying again could mean it is cancelled again and you will be none the wiser, waiting another year for something that isn’t going to happen.

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I wouldn’t do that.

The sort of run-around you’ve experienced is all too common. The majors (Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet, Dodo, et al) are pretty useless when it comes to NBN fixed wireless. Their staff are not trained for it and their management is not really interested. As NBN RSPs, they work with fixed-lines; other things, they do on the side.

Your first problem is getting an install. For that, one of the smaller RSPs is your best bet. Aussie Broadband began as a fixed wireless ISP, before NBN had fixed wireless. They do other things now, but still have staff who are well-trained and experienced in fixed wireless. While not cheap, their reputation for service is very good. Skymesh also has a pretty good reputation in fixed wireless, though it’s dropped a bit since the company was sold.

Once you have an installation, you can switch providers to your heart’s content. You generally only have to sign a one-month contract to get an installation.

The Better Internet For Rural, Regional And Remote Australia (BIRRR) Facebook group is a good source of information.

One final thing. With fixed wireless, it’s best if your provider of voice services knows nothing of your data services.


I have an uneasy feeling about this. Several of them, actually.

For the uninitiated, NBN Co’s remit was initially limited to layer 2 of the network. They’re increasingly finding problems that can only be addressed at layer 3 (closer to the consumer and normally the province of RSPs).


Generally speaking, Layer 2 is a broadcast Media Access Control (MAC) MAC level network, while Layer 3 is a segmented routing over internet protocol (IP) network.

I love articles written by newbies :slight_smile: how easy is a world where there is only IP (and IPv6) … ‘generally speaking’ …


I gather that, in some parts of the network, packets are going missing at alarming rates.

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