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Will 5G Push Fibre Aside?


Good luck with that. :roll_eyes:

There are limits:

A single strand of fibre-optic cable can carry 20,000 times more data than the entire radio frequency spectrum combined.

Given that radio frequency spectrum is extremely limited, we’ll need to decide whether 5G is the best use of such a precious resource.


Firstly, I don’t think anyone would want FTA TV shut down. A lot of spectrum has been harvested in the move to digital TV, but unless you reduce the number of FTA TV channels you’re not going to get much more - especially as stations consider moving to higher resolution broadcasting.

I think it’s incredible that mobile networks work as well and as fast as they currently do, but while 5G will make them faster through the use of better maths and moar power(!) there are real physics and mathematical limits to what bandwidth can carry. 5G will use more bandwidth, and will use specific bandwidths depending on the purpose (e.g. lots of very localised users vs. a few users more distant from the base station).

To build a 5G network that could replace physical lines (e.g. copper) you would need an enormous number of base stations. Given that apart from city centres Australians are spread all over the place, it is not clear that the benefits will be quite what is being promised.

In short: physical cables will beat airwaves in pretty much every dimension save initial cost.


I totally agree with the observations here.

The key decisions around telecommunications and the NBN to many of us appear to be counter to common sense or logic. Short term goals at the lowest up front cost?

It’s a simple proposition that logic or a broad informed common sense view will not prevail into the future for the NBN or the national telecommunications sector. Consider the expediency of recent decision making concerning the technical and financial arrangements for Telstra, the NBN and media ownership as evidence?


Not millimetre-wave, but 3.6GHz (which has enough problems).


5G may not be the magic cure for all things wrong with the NBN? Telstra have put a big chunk of their business future into 5G.

One thing you cannot currently do is take your NBN with you when you are out of the house!

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have the foot in the door with mobile services. That includes data on the go! Aside from alternate new uses, 5G delivers more capacity in high use areas.

It may also be a clever marketing opportunity, through fear of missing out? Still on 4G? You’re superseded.


We’ll all be rooned! :scream:

The couple have health and security concerns over the small cell boxes, and have pushed their local council to intervene.

over the next two years the small cell boxes would become commonplace, as they are considered a critical component of “filling in the gaps” for the high-speed 5G network.


It leaves little to wonder about the quality of our news and reporting services when you do a little research.
It may be fair comment that there are concerns being expressed about small cells.

Not so great that not only a portion of the local community but also the local council appear to be ignorant of the technology and its existence?

Terrible that the ABC failed to inform us that this is neither a first or one off use of the technology, whether for 4G or 5G based services. Small cells are not specific to 5G as the following Telstra press release from 21st March 2018 (last year) reports.


Telstra has been using them for years!

We have installed more than 50 4G small cells across the Melbourne CBD as the first stage of a national small cell rollout to boost capacity and speed in some of Australia’s busiest locations.

A small cell is a miniature version of a standard mobile base station that adds additional mobile capacity at some of Australia’s busiest locations.

We’ve been using small cells to extend coverage mostly in rural and remote areas for several years, now we are deploying them in CBD locations around Australia as a cost-effective way to handle the ever growing demand for data.

Recently, we’ve completed a small cell blitz of Melbourne’s CBD, installing more than 50 new 4G cells at some of the city’s busiest locations. It’s part of a plan over the next three years to roll out 1,000 new small cells as part of boosting capacity and speed in metro and regional locations for our customers.

Edit: that the TPG plan reportedly uses Huawei technology to implement a 4G mobile solution adds to the misdirection?


5G? That’s just so last week! Book now for 7G.


Comments from Whistleout on 5G data options.

5G is set to be a viable alternative to the National Broadband Network for some - Telstra and Optus both intend to sell 5G-powered home wireless solutions next year - but it won’t replace the need for it.

While 5G networks bring many of the perks of a fixed line connection, data costs are likely to remain higher on mobile networks for some time.

In looking for information on signal range and performance the suggestion is that there is not that great a difference between 4G and 5G when using the bands below 6GHz. Online results for these suggest 5G can be significantly faster than 4G, however it is not clear at what range, ( proximity to a cell or tower).

It’s the millimetre radio bands which also require close spaced micro cells that can provide the truely fast speeds being used to promote 5G.

It may be critical for any one contemplating upgrading to 5G to know exactly which version they will be gaining access to in there immediate area of useage?

Elsewhere -
Telstra appear to be emphasising GHz super speeds on one hand, while dampening down expectations to 100Mbps (NBN fast). In the background comments about 5G suggest it is the ability of 5G to better handle streaming content and service more concurrent customers that are attractive to Telstra?


Telstra have been granted exclusive 5G handset provision deals with a number of handset producers. It seems they continue to benefit not only from an ongoing USO contract but are certainly looking at almost monopoly market ownership of 5G sets and thus provision (if you don’t use Telstra handsets and thus probably mobile contracts you won’t get 5G services).


Mark, by millimetre radio bands, do you mean bands where the wavelength is 1mm or less ( around 300GHz and up ) ?


A polite no if that’s ok?

In this instance Millimetre wave bands refers to the use of spectrum from 26Ghz or higher for communications.

It is also a term commonly used to distinguish the higher frequency mobile/data spectrum from the bands below 6GHz.

From Whistleout discussing speeds of the two bands being used by Telstra to deliver 5G.

The Frankfrut test was performed using a 3.5GHz network, while the San Francisco test was based on mmWave bands. 3.5GHz is similar to the underlying spectrum in existing phone networks, whereas mmWave bands are extremely high frequencies starting from 26GHz. While mmWave bands can offer faster speeds than mid-band frequencies such as 3.5GHz, their range is smaller. Australian 5G networks will use a combination of these technologies.

Technically one view is the mm wave bands are from 10mm wave length to 1mm wave length. Or 30gHz out to 300GHz. (Decimal fractions ignored.)

And yes, 26Ghz is outside that definition at approx 11.5mm wave length. Perhaps promoting 5G using new terminology is just a clever way of making customers think that there is some new magic for sale?

P.S. It’s an internationally used term. Telstra can’t claim anything special or unique about it. Or can they? :thinking:

There’s a link to the Whistleout article in my previous post if you are interested in their informed take on 5G mobile communications.


Thank you Mark. Although I keep an ACMA spectrum chart on my wall (their EHF starts at 30GHz), radio comms is not my ‘expert topic’ :sweat_smile:


It’s not mine either really. I had just been doing some homework on something related and was left wondering myself about what spectrum fitted where for 5G?

If you feel a little need to get nerdy?
The technical and engineering world is full of inconsistencies, simplifications and outright marketing misrepresentations. Even scientists need to sell the occasional good idea?

I referred previously to the lowest mmwave band used as 26GHz. IE per Telstra, Huawei, Ericcson and the ACMA without further clarification. It’s in common usage.

The spectrum for the 26Ghz band covers 24.25 up to 27.5GHz. You may even find some older ACMA docs that talk about 24.25 GHz as mmwave length.


Never let established science stand in the way of marketing and buzzwords :rofl:


The broader question or topic might be - what can 5G do that fibre can not do?

The two may be complimentary and come to rely on each other more and more as use of each evolves. There is a relatively straight forward non techno summary in the linked specialist communications article.

The prediction of massive GDP benefits might best be taken with a grain of salt as industry marketing spin. Possibly realistic, but there firstly to get attention and secondly encourage a positive attitude to investment in the sector.


Mobile? Temporary point-to-point? None of which works without a fibre network to form the foundations of base-station infrastructure.

What can fibre do that 5G can’t?


I see both mobile data (Hotspot Wifi, 3G, 4G, 5G and whatever new iterations appear) and fixed data services as both having important roles. They are indeed complementary services that need one another to provide the best possible outcome for a user.

As I have posted before 5G relies, as you point out, on some amount of fixed line service to complete it’s travel and fixed line a lot of the time requires some mobile source thrown into the mix to ensure it provides good coverage. I for one am glad that we have mobile communications that allow for example emergency contact in the case of accidents.


Whilst travelling from Cairns to the Sunshine Coast hinterland via Charters Towers and Emerald and back last month, we noticed that Telstra had installed a mobile phone cell site next to one of their fibre-optic repeater stations beside the highway in the middle of nowhere, which was not there the previous year.

As these fibre-optic stations seem to be just about everywhere on these rural highways, hopefully Telstra will drop a cell site in beside all of them.

It would be a great addition to the cell sites that they have installed at some of their massive guyed microwave towers in the west such as along the Mitchell Highway.


It might not be Telstra and it might in fact be NBN Co or perhaps Optus who own that fibre but point taken it would be great to see more towers available in remote areas.