5G Probably Won't Replace NBN, But It Could Make It Better

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Thanks to the mess that the NBN has become, many Aussies fed up with dismal speeds and congestion on the NBN have resigned themselves to waiting for 5G to replace fixed connections. Most experts agree that 5G won't fully replace fixed connections, however - but it might be able to provide the speed fix the NBN desperately needs.

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Recent research from tech analyst firm Telsyte has looked towards the potential impact of 5G networks on Australia's fixed line services, though it also details how the new wireless tech can be used to compliment and augment fixed lines.

According to Telsyte's research, as many as 1 in 3 households indicated they would be interested in subscribing to 5G-based home internet services over fixed lines, up from the 15 per cent of households who currently operate on mobile-only systems.

This isn't just a far-off hypothetical, either. At Telstra's annual general meeting today, CEO Andy Penn stated that "our network is 5G ready" and "we are also already rolling out 5G technology on our network and have more than 200 5G sites planned to be live around Australia by the end of this calendar year." As soon as manufacturers are making 5G-enabled devices, telcos will be ready to jump on it.

Don't make up your mind too quickly, however. Telsyte believes factors such as "limited spectrum, massively growing data usage, and potentially high costs for consumers" will limit uptake of mobile-only households. We still have no idea of what 5G is likely to cost, especially for mobile broadband, or how it will be affected by telco contracts with the NBN.

The biggest development involving the NBN, however, is how it might be used in conjunction with 5G. Telsyte suggests that carriers may want to take advantage of 5G's increased speeds and decreased congestion by offering dual-mode routers that can switch between mobile network and NBN to offer more reliable and stable speeds. Telcos like Telstra and Vodafone are already offering similar packages with existing mobile broadband.

"Fixed and wireless technologies such as 5G can work hand-in-hand," Telsyte Senior Analyst Alvin Lee says. "Most consumers don’t want to think about what technologies are behind their Internet access, they just want it to be fast, good value and work seamlessly."

Telsyte has even suggested that NBN itself could adopt 5G technology to update fixed wireless services and even to help out the much-maligned FTTN network.


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