CHOICE membership

NBN fixed wireless


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


Will not be a problem here in the Glass House Mountains, Qld. Our local FW NBN tower was finally through LG planning and development approval end of Feb/March 2019!

The submitted planning approval shows a 56m tall tower next to a 30m tall forest that extends for up to 1km in some directions.

It remains to be seen if any one living close to the far side of the pine plantations (and in the wireless shadow) will ever get the NBN by FW. Guess you will need to be at least 500-750m clear of the nearest pines to have any hope.

Although the NBN plan shows all in our area being able to connect once the tower goes up?

A rough guess is that as few as 25 premises may be able to connect to the one cell pointing our way?


If you have Google Earth on a PC, you can do basic viewshed model which shows where the landscape shadows are and where direct line of sight is not possible. While not accurate, it gives an idea of likely shadow locations.

Might be useful for those about to sign up to NBN wireless.


For step-by-step instructions on checking transmitters, topography, terrain shadowing, etc:


Great tools and feedback @Drop_Bear and @phb.
I will see where they take me.

There are currently no signs of work starting on our tower. Supposedly to be all up and running with service Q4 2019. As it only links with microwave to the next town, perhaps this is possible. I have worked on one project with a new 3G tower and repeater. The longest part of the project was the tower footings. 3-4 months including concrete cure.

I have a 1.0m interval LIDAR derived contour map of our area as reference. The pine forest heights and density vary with age. The pine needles hold moisture after wet periods. I’m ignoring the classified native forest regrowth on our own property in this. It is still very immature, but grows fast too!

Generic issues might include some properties passing the NBN signal strength test one day but not the next after install complete? Worse as the forests mature and grow 25 years, some will loose signal over time. It seems a very unsatisfactory scenario if that comes to pass?

It’s not known how many customers are in the tower footprint? A guess from the NBN rollout map might be 200+? With a typical 50% uptake assuming all can get signal leaves the tower to serve 100 or fewer connected customers? Is this $8,000 per customer for tower costs alone? I have a vague recollection $800k is the average cost of an NBN tower inferred from their reports.


No surprises. Not very helpful.


Between a rock and a hard place. If NBN keeps using those frequencies, there will inevitably be interference problems. Moving to other (probably higher) frequencies raises different issues.


Spectrum is an interesting creature. Users see it as utility but governments see it as income since they regulate and control it and auction off its use. The public good seems a distant second. Even weather satellites and radars have been diminished by the run to the dollar.

The glossy words are here at ACMA but concerns are dismissed with the US apparently in the lead to put commercial and government profit above potential disruption to public safety.

A media report for those preferring synopsis up front:

The point is we are collateral damage under liberal capitalism, and as history shows, both Tweedledee and Tweedledum act similarly when in government, notwithstanding the rest of the world taking a lead, whether led, pushed, or coerced by the mega powers that be.


As I’ve written elsewhere, wireless is no less a natural monopoly than land lines. There is only one radio frequency spectrum. Splitting it up, so it can be auctioned-off piecemeal, doesn’t increase the amount of spectrum. Can we really afford multiple overlapping fragments of network, that largely serve only the most lucrative areas, while the bulk of Australia’s land mass has little or no coverage?

If spectrum was managed for optimum public good, rather than maximum short-term government revenue, then we’d have a single wireless network operator (probably combined with a single fixed-line network operator). That would provide government with an ongoing revenue stream. It would not, however, yield the usual occasional large lumps of revenue that governments typically use to build monuments to themselves and buy votes.


We had that, with the PMG. Also later known as Telecom then Telstra.
Letters were relatively cheap to post, and the everyday way of mass communication involved newspapers. Soap boxes, armoured public phones in red boxes with untimed local calls for six pence (5 cents) and the rare black rotary dial home phone were backups.

Whether a national single network operator would deliver a service any more effectively or at lower cost is very hypothetical. Who in government could ever resist ratcheting up the charges for greater revenue? Who in opposition would not choose to divide and conquer by pointing out how inner urban users might be paying too much through subsidising fringe users and regional customers. Who in the regions would not cause division by insisting on equal utility and cost to the most well served of inner city users?

Where and how the lines are drawn may have altered a little.
A politician can still offer at election time promises that are not kept, or propose equality where none exists.

Has anything really changed?


History and experience support the hypothesis.


If we’re stuck with a monopoly (and that’s the implication of the term natural monopoly), then experience shows that a public sector monopoly works less badly than a private sector monopoly. Anyway, this has all been argued at length.


Does a single website cherry picking references and links constitute “argued at length” ? either the 5 minute argument or the full half hour?



As an educational aside cherry picking is seasonal!

In Australia generally from late spring into summer lasting around three months.

In the USA the season spans from May to August.

Important to know when fresh Cherries, product of the USA appear on the store shelves leading into Christmas.


Cherry picking on the internet isn’t seasonal however.


For Heaven’s sake!

It’s my web site. I linked to avoid cluttering the thread with unnecessary detail.

Sometimes, I wonder why I bother.


Hopefully for the same reasons the rest of us bother. Because we are concerned, and are seeking a better way forward.

Although with NBN Fixed Wireless we have a limited ability to influence the outcomes.

For some the option of hanging on to a mediocre ADSL2 service may be an option. Alternately transitioning to a mobile carriers data service over 4G or future 5G may become a realistic lower usage option.

It may be in the best interests of the NBN Co to minimise the ability of alternatives to deliver competition.

Testing the arguments or seeking advice and information in support of change is of value. Unfortunately alone discussion on this forum is unlikely to deliver change. That IMHO is something that needs to be directed in person to the respective local Federal Members and respective ministers.


A bit from NBNco:


Interesting photo. Taken for publicity perhaps? I have had the NBN fixed wireless, the TV aerial, the solar hot water and I think 4 satellite dishes for various services installed on my roof over a period of years. Not one worker wore any safety harness.


You should see what solar PV installers can do using only a ladder while carrying two panels at the same time.

They charge extra for two story roofs. An extra 2.5m and 8 steps on the ladder might be the only difference.

P.S. to stay on topic I drive past our future NBN Fixed Wireless tower site last week. Still a pile of dirt and weeds in the back corner of a paddock. Nil action!