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Will 5G Push Fibre Aside?



It may help to note that 5G in a dense urban and environment suits short range and high data capacity at relatively low transmitting powers. Typically using higher frequency bands and potentially needing to serve many more concurrent users.

In the great out doors of rural and regional Australia if and where 5G might be implemented it will be a different beast as an upgrade or complement on existing bands between 700MHz and 2.6GHz or the newer 3.4-3.5GHz bands. In the regions 5G can be used at power levels similar to 3g or 4G to give a step up in speed ( but nothing like that of short range millimetre frequency bands) at the cost of a reduced range.

More power helps, however the 5G mobile device at the other end also needs more power to reach back at a suitable fast data rate too!

The two areas of application are very different.

We already have existing microwave links in many rural areas, which being directional were used to bring telephone services to many remote locations. Some logic says building on this base might have been a better way to go for many than satellite - and 4G or 5G are just ways to make these links carry data better.

There is no fibre to push aside.


Not necessarily. For example, some TVs that are currently available in Australia are DVB-T2 capable. If Australia were to upgrade to a later standard, it would still be years off.


How long have TVs been sold that are DVB-T2 capable? How many Australians have such TVs? I see from Wikipedia that a number of countries/regions have already adopted or have plans to adopt the new standard, but many Australians remember the debacle that was switching to digital. There has been an FOI request in relation to this issue, with the documents published online at Right-To-Know.

(Side challenge: identify the obvious error/s on page 2 of attachment 4 of the FOI response.)


RMIT researchers report developing a new type of fibre optic that could provide 100 times faster speeds.


US-centric article, but interesting to see how that increased bandwidth might be used.


5G has its limitations, but is possibly better placed to better meet future customer needs. There are many in our community which no longer have fixed lines (either copper or NBN) for either data or voice and there is a growing trend/increasing proportion of the community moving towards only wireless technologies.

While 5G may not fully replace the NBN (in any or its MTM), it is likely to the preferred choice of an increasing number of consumers who prefer to pay for only one service and need/prefer a mobile service over any fixed line service. These consumers are becoming mobile only because this type of service best suits them.

This is where the competition lies…not with necessarily which service is faster, but which service the average punter needs/prefers.


My browser froze on that page, taking an awful long time to process some request or other, so I closed it before reading the article.

We already have reasons for concern:

Probably not. People who use mobile data usually have a fixed line connection at home (in urban areas, at least).

Customers’ future needs will almost certainly include both mobile and fixed-point services. If current trends are any guide, the vast majority of demand will not be mobile data.


The total volume of data downloaded in the three months ended 30 June 2018 was 3.8 million Terabytes (or 3.8 Exabytes).

This is a 7.0% increase in data downloads when compared with the three months ended 31 December 2017 and a 28.1% increase compared with the three months ended June 2017.

Data downloaded via fixed line broadband (3.7 million Terabytes) accounted for 96.8.% of all internet downloads in the three months ended 30 June 2018.


There is a slow trend to mobile only connections. I thought it was only a generation Y thing, but we have some friends (generation Ys) who also now have no fixed lines. We have had to change our fixed line phone bundle to include a unlimited mobile calls as a result (to reduce our own communication costs).

There are older reports that in Australia there is some migration to mobile only, and this has not significantly affected fixed line internet connection…but yet to find more recent reports. There are overseas trends which it is expected that Australia would be similar.

There are reports of such trends in other countries (such as this one) and expect that the same trend will occur in Australia as mobility and cost become more important than high speed fixed line connections.

The NBN responded to media inquiries about the competition with next gen mobile networks, but they have been silent since 2015.

ACMA in their 2016-17 report (a long time in the technology space also stated:

Ongoing shift to mobile
In June 2017, 36 per cent of Australian adults were mobile-phone-only, going without a fixed-line telephone in their home.

While mobile phone use appears to have reached saturation levels, demand for smartphones continues to increase. At June 2017, eight in 10 (81 per cent) Australian adults owned a smartphone, up 17 percentage points from 64 per cent five years ago. This reflects consumer demand for new technologies rather than an increase in subscriber numbers.

Mobile phones were clearly the most used device to access the internet, both in terms of the proportion of people using and frequency of use. Eighty-four per cent of online Australians used a mobile to access the internet at least once a day, well ahead of laptop computers (69 per cent) and desktop computers (54 per cent).

Apps proved a popular way to communicate with family and friends. In the six months to June 2017, 88 per cent of online Australians used an app to communicate via either messages or voice or video calls."

The same report also outlined that in in 2016, 12 per cent of the American adult population were smartphone-only internet users (a smartphone but no broadband internet connection at home)—an increase of four per cent since 2013. I expect this number in the US would have increased since 2016.

A good friend who lectures in this space indicated earlier in the year that he believes that Australia is similar to the US percentages and would be increasing principally to cost and improved mobile speeds.

I’ll try to hunt for some Australian figures and might see if my friends has some (even though he is currently working in Brazil).

Deloitte has also done some predictions…and what they think can be found here:


A very interesting article regarding 5G that I happened across whilst reading another article.

If there will be problems with 5G in rural USA with their massive population, then I would expect far greater problems in rural Australia.


It doesn’t need to be 5G to have problems in rural Australia. There are regular reports of blackspots with past generation technologies and also concerns about increased blackspots by rural users when one generation is shutdown (end of life)…additional blackspots created by different coverage profiles.


Whilst I have not read much about 5G, the article advises that a single tree can block reception and the range will be significantly less than with existing frequencies, which is normal as the frequency is increased.

So where there are now reception problems with 3G and 4G, they can be expected to be worse with 5G without more cell sites being installed, which is unlikely to happen in rural areas.


Re Smart TV’s spying on the user:

No more than any other smart device, eg Solar power inverter with wifi monitoring. Noticed these call back to base to do updates? And they need a clear pathway through your home internet to do so.

Ours even transmits an open WEP network SSID while still connected to our WAP2 home network.

A whole new topic here about how to best deal with these evil necessities?

5G communications technology is not necessary, it just makes it all the more useful for whoever is listening in.

There is enough processing smarts in most of these devices to log and snoop on all of the household network traffic?

How do you Secure Home Networks from IOT, And Other Smart Devices

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the capacity of the entire radio frequency spectrum is tens of thousands of times less than a single strand of optical fibre. The pretence that the future needs of households or business will be met by the mobile network is a bad joke. Pure marketing.


Business is a different matter and most need sufficient bandwidth to support their business needs and that of their workplace. I can’t see those with fixed businesses/premises being replaced by mobile as they will need the capacity of fixed line connections to function.

Fibre has significantly more bandwidth than mobile, but bandwidth is not what drives all consumers. If it did, then there would not be many mobile only connections.

Evidence shows that smartphones have about 90% penetration (I am one of the 10% without one…well even without a mobile) and are being used more and more functions which were previously carried out on desktops and smart TVs. The migration to mobile only connections has occurred with the limitations of the existing mobile network. I don’t expect that when 5G comes out the shift will be any different, it may potentially accelerate where there is adequate coverage not dissimilar to the existing mobile generation networks and consumers want to reduce their living costs.


In principle, all things are possible. In practice, not all things are equally probable.

Demand for data keeps rising, even in the residential market. We aren’t too far from the day when no wireless technology will meet the demand.

The growth in overall demand has slowed recently. That’s probably a sign that the multi technology mix is limiting the nation’s performance. The FttP plan may have been half-baked, but what we’re now saddled with isn’t even oven-ready. Much like those who think they can run a household on the mobile network, the nation will soon be crying out for optical fibre.


There are a whole range of factors that could affect the total amount of downloads…infrastructure is one but unlikely. With any new technology, there is often very fast growth as the technology is picked up and once the technology reaches near saturation, growth slows or stabilises. The curve creates is what is called a S-curve.

These websites show this pattern:

It is possible that in the past few years there has been a significant number of consumers who have paid for subscription based video services and the number of new customers to these services has slowed or plateaued. As I understand that streamed video makes up a significant proportion of downloaded data, any change in the growth of new customers to these subscription services would impact on the total volume of data downloaded.

Information on subscriptions can be found in this AFR article.

Another factor is that only such video that can be watched at one time by a single person…usually maximum of one video per set(s) of eyes. I am yet to find anyone that can watch two or more videos at one time and absorb the content.

The other limitation could be users running out of paid data allowance and can’t afford more data or next tier packages. There have been many reports in the past 12 months of Australian tending towards lower speed NBN packages…which could be decision based on cost or packages to meet ones existing needs.

This is more plausible than fixed line infrastructure being the limiting factor as many Australian have adopted for cheaper slower speed tiers over more expensive faster NBN packages.

For those who are interested, the ABS collects data on fixed line and mobile data downloads (and number of connections). The last data set ends in June 2018.


Families? I know of many who often have members streaming (or trying to) different content simultaneously. Particularly with teenagers (or so I’m told). :wink:

I know of nobody who has managed to run a family on a mobile data allowance.

Which is why I linked to it.


I like that thought, one solution for all. We all get Fibre. To the home and for breakfast. :grin:(The NBN delivers in more than one front.):rofl:

Just a small step towards advancement of a fairer world. I await Target to bring on the one brand only of under wear, in one size only, in one style for all, to suit preferences of all and any?:thinking:

Perhaps the reason we have a range of options for delivering data including 4G and soon 5G is someone somewhere still believes our needs are not all the same?:sunglasses:


It’s a target. Unless we try, we’ll never know how far we can go. We have time. The anticipated service life of fibre is a century or so.