Tests show 5G wireless potentially 60 times faster than NBN

Edit: New readers to the topic can join at August 2023 by clicking here.

It seems that NBN will be truly " antiquated " before it is rolled out . With 5G around the corner NBN speeds look farcical . Link below was of interest to me .

5G speeds are 60x faster than home broadband internet | news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site


I remember when the nbn was first announced about a decade ago, I indicated to our local labor member that wired connections will be seem as dated technology quickly…as at the time I could see the trend towards wireless technology and connections. The response was that even with high speed wireless, the backbone network still needs to be fibre.

While I accepted that response at the time, I soon thought that the backbone network was not needed to every premise, but to the local wireless receiver/transmitter station (mobile pole). When questioning a friend working in the telecommunications industry about this, I was told that 3g was near the technical speed limits of wireless systems and any improvement in speed would be marginal and would be lost through increased users on the banswidth. I again accepted this.

Another friend who is a innovation centre urban planner about the same time alluded to the research in 4g and shortly thereafter 5g. He also agreed with me at the time that most users don’t need 100Mbs+ speeds for most domestic applications, and the forecast speeds of 4/5g, along with its likely limitations, would more than suffice most users.

What we now have is a wired system which will have direct competition from wireless systems. This will only drive up costs (not lower them) as consumers will be paying for two networks, one they want (freedom associated with wireless) and a potentially underutilised fibre network.

Unfortunately the nbn was a political decision rather than a future proof system based on most consumers need (a bit like providing a supercar capable of 400km/h when most punters are happy with a 4cyl SUV).

I also don’t really care about highspeed connections for entertainment purposes in the home or having everything streamed in say 4K.

6g is also in the pipeline and will further compete with the fastest fibre networks.

I might be wrong ‘again’, and only time will tell if I am.


I live about 12 km from the Melbourne CBD and my Optus mobile cannot get beyond 3G, so 5G would be pie in the sky for Optus. I am lucky to get a single bar in the icon at the top of the screen, calls in and out drop out frequently in the first minute. Optus recommended an Optus WiFi ap which probably now routes the calls via the internet, but it currently works as I have good Telstra cable. speeds. ( Am I correct in thinking this use of Telstra for Optus calls is a bit strange). No NBN in this area until 2019. Hope they have sorted out their issues by then.

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I would caution not to confuse speed with capacity. One can get good speeds as a single user, but when 100 of your neighbours are also connected you all share the capacity limit. This is why ‘netflix’ (ie the internet) often slows to a crawl when everyone is using it concurrently - every ISP/RSP has something capping their capacity and thus the speeds an individual user can achieve at the time.

Wireless towers, as with any other medium, have capacity limits. Wireless also have other considerations not present in fibre, that limits their usability, ie coverage and signal strength and the servers backing them, and importantly how those towers connect to the backbones. My local towers are about 1km from me, but my signal varies from nothing to weak in most of my house. The solution would be an external antenna, maybe, but I trust the point is made that wireless is not a panacea.


I understand that and the likely range (distance to achieve speed) from towers may also be reduced to achieve the nominal speeds. Capacity and distance limitations could however be overcome through additional towers (higher tower densities), at additional cost (financial, social and environmental) which someone will ultimately pay for.

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Yes, ‘someone’ :wink:

But at the end of the day fibre remains the gold standard for high speed high capacity today and far into tomorrow, for many technical reasons.


Hi Mike

Sound good, BUT…

  1. there will need to be a lot more towers because the 5G cell has a much smaller footprint,
  2. to facilitate the higher speeds and handshaking, the towers will need to be linked using fibre, and
  3. the higher throughput will result in contention down stream so all connections will need to be fibre.

What are the chances telcos are going to invest all that money to give us the higher speeds?

Even if they do set it all up, it won’t be as fast as FTTP if we ever get it.


There is still the unresolved issue of what spectrum (spectra ?) is going to be used for 5G.
AFAIK (going off an ACMA spectrum allocation chart), there isn’t any part of the radio spectrum below 275 GHz that isn’t already used for something else. I know there has been talk of network providers acquiring spectrum even up around the EHF (Extremely High Frequency) of 96 GHz (those cells would have a really small footprint ?). Satellites (amongst other users) already utilise that spectrum.


Well there is some concern about the RF emissions of 5G, I am not saying it is dangerous but just raising the issue of the concern. Not all the links are great ones but still, I think, at least worth reading and it does make reference to the band/s used.


In addition, future upgrades to the FTTP sections of the NBN will accommodate download speeds as high as 10Gbps, which will not be achievable with 5G. And in before anyone asks “What about 6G ?” :wink:


Are you implying government in not beneath kicking off public good users (BOM, SES, fire, ambo, police, et al) to make way for themselves?


Actually speeds much greater than 10 Gbps are achievable now but commercially this is not available to users but 10 Gbps is commercially available but for the most part is used as the digital highway while 1 Gbps is used for the digital “side streets”. Right now NBN can make available 1 Gbps streams to users on and only on FTTP but RSPs don’t want to offer that to their users.

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Not at all, Phil @PhilT !
I’m sure that they would like to auction off already used spectrum to the highest bidder for a quick ‘profit’.


I’m sure 5G will have a significant role in our future telecommunications network, but in addition to the issues of limited range (and the HUGE number of base-stations needed to give full coverage), interference from trees, congestion, etc, there is also the biq question of price.

4G is “good enough” to be an alternative to fixed-line for many people with modest requirements, but the data caps are typically pretty restrictive - fine if you only need 20 GB or so a month, but if you are using streaming video (e.g. Netflix, Foxtel Now, etc), chances are you’re going to need 500 GB per month or more.

Get back to me when you find a 4G mobile data plan that can give you >25 Mbps (needed for 4k streaming) with 500 GB or more data cap, all for around $80 per month, and I’ll be prepared to consider mobile data as an alternative to fixed-line internet. (I wouldn’t expect 5G to be a “budget” product, if / when it launches sometime after 2020.)


I do not want 5G close to my home where I rest and sleep. If you read carefully this page, “Potential health effects of 5G network unknown”. It is enough reason not to install more towers in residential areas!

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New radiation danger. Yes right.
This is the standard formula for less than ethical people looking for funding.
It goes like this.
Issue a press release something along the lines of.
“The sky may be falling”
’ Falling Skies may cause cancer"
“There is not enough research into falling skies”
" We can do the research"
“We will need funding”
Simple really and the press and politicians get sucked in.

Also the ACMA re farms frequencies so 5G may well go to the 800 and 900 Mhz bands or perhaps the old analogue TV frequencies.

And here is another one, the New York stock exchange uses a very clever very high speed wireless link not fibre for its data.
It was manufactured by a Queensland company would you believe.

Would you care to provide a link to that please?

It is quite different for a single entity to use a wireless solution as compared to 12 million user premises connecting to 12+ million content sources, concurrently. At some point in the backbone every network still uses fibre, and will probably continue to do so for the long foreseeable future.

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Someone once painted a word picture about the current speed of change in the electronics industry.
It Stated that if the aviation industry had evolved at the same speed as todays electronics industry,
man would have been on the moon 12 minutes after the Wright brothers first flew.

The NBN was never going to work with a 10 year lead time.

What was your internet connection 10 years ago 2400 baud?

Think of it this way if the motoring public wants to buy Mazda 3s the NBN is selling Maybachs, go figure.


These are Microwave links and they have been in use for many years, perhaps not at the 5 Gbps speeds, in outback telephone transmission and many point to point applications and they do have lower latency. Even with Mobile Towers some use the PtP transmission to connect a tower back to a fibre backbone and in the NBN Fixed Wireless some towers also use the Microwave back to Fibre connection.

What you will notice is the back to fibre part, a single fibre has at least 100 Gigabit per second data capacity now and has a theoretical capacity somewhere north of a Petabit. The microwave tech can currently drive around a 5 Gbps link with low latency (low latency is what the stock ex want for the microsecond sell and buys) but they really do suffer when it comes to bulk data and even this “new” tech is hampered by rain and fog (perhaps not sufficiently bad in a PtP framework) and requires constant re-alignment to keep the dishes aligned to enable the fast speeds. This is not something you can easily export to the home front.

Don’t confuse the 1 Gbps that is/can be offered by various ISPs/RSPs by what is currently achievable by fibre. This is just what is offered in an “economical package” (ie what they can sell to what is demanded). For example in Singapore there are providers who supply up to 10 Gbps fibre plans to the home, and in Japan 2 Gbps plans. 80% of China is connected with FTTP and it’s speed offerings are increasing all the time but most are at 100 Mbps currently but 1 Gbps are becoming more common.