NBN Fixed Wireless Antenna (close up)

NBN expands 3.4GHz Fixed Wireless trial

15 existing towers in NSW, VIC and SA retrofitted with new radios

The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, appears to have expanded its trial of the 3.4GHz band to deliver fixed wireless to outer metropolitan fringes.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has updated its Register of Radiocommunications Licenses.  It has replaced the Scientifically Assigned licenses, first assigned at the start 2015, with fixed site licenses on existing towers.  The towers now listed in the register include:

The current rollout, which currently relies on TD-LTE technology delivered over the 2.3 GHz band, has mainly been limited to regional areas where nbn holds the licence for the frequency.  Mobile provider Optus owns the licenses spectrum in areas closer to capital cities.

The ACMA was ordered by then-Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, to allocate the 3.4 GHz spectrum to nbn to enable the company to complete its fixed wireless rollout.  The so-called 3.4 GHz band encompasses the 3425-3492.5 MHz and 3542.5-3757 MHz spectrum allocations.

In March 2015, the nbn company had engaged NetComm Wireless to develop fixed wireless equipment for the new band.

Inside an NBN node at Umina Beach

NBN: 5 drop outs daily “acceptable” on new FTTN network

Leaked internal documents detailing the fault resolution process on the FTTN/B network suggests a nightmare process awaits millions of Australians

A leaked document from the company responsible for building the National Broadband Network (nbn) has revealed insights into the fault ratification process for its Fibre to the Node and  Basement networks.

The freshly leaked document, first published by technology publication Delimiter, is the latest addition to a string of damaging leaked documents from within the company within the last few weeks alone.

5 drops out a day? That’s “acceptable”

Australians shouldn’t expect their current unexpected drop-outs to be fixed after upgrading to the new Fibre to the Node network.

On page 21, nbn describes how it plans to diagnose a user experiencing drop-out issues on the Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement networks.

A user experiencing on average 2.4 resync events (colloquially known as dropouts) per day as being connected to a “stable” connection. It goes on to explain that connections experiencing up to 5 dropouts a day as being “risky” — yet “nbn regards risky [connections] as acceptable”.

NBN considers 5 drop outs per day as "acceptable"
NBN considers 5 drop outs per day as “acceptable”

The company suggests putting risky connections into a lower sync speed by assigning them to a “stability” profile in the hope of reduced drop-out rates.

Modems must be approved, or faults cannot be logged

The NBN company is insisting that end users must use an approved modem, certified to be working by an NBN service provider, in order for a fault to be lodged.

Despite the requirement of an approved modem, nbn has refused a freedom of information request to provide a list of modems that are approved for connecting to the NBN network to the public. Nor can members of the public request models of modems to be tested for registration.

This forces all end users to purchase the low-end, consumer-grade modem approved by their service providers such as the cheap sagecomm [email protected] modem line-up preferred by some major carriers. The flaw in this is that many sagecomm modems have a ton. of. security.exploits.

$50 No Fault Found charge if problem is beyond the network boundary

Unlike on its fibre network, nbn will charge end users $50 for a “No Fault Found”call-out fee for the FTTN and FTTB network where the technician identifies no faults on the line or if the fault is within the end user’s house (for example, a bridge tap inside the home).

This fee, similar to one currently charged by Telstra, is set to discourage end users from lodging faults and risk paying a $50 No Fault Found charge if a fault is not identified.


So here we are again, folks:

  • It’s okay for this new $56 billion dollar network to drop out 1, 2… maybe 5 times a day — that’s totally acceptable!
  • You’re after a modem that’s higher quality, possibly enterprise-grade, instead than the cheapo modem your service provider sold to you? Not only will we not tell you what modems you can get, you can’t even get new modems approved if you wanted!
  • Finally, think you have a fault? Think again — we can slug you $50 if you complain about the network and we don’t find anything wrong with it!

What a wonderful broadband network this is going to be!

LTSS Base Station: Sunset

Shallow dive: West Coast Tasmania NBN doesn’t make sense

There’s something unusual about the way NBN is planning to service the West Coast of Tasmania.

The company is preferring to place over five thousand Australians onto an already oversubscribed network with a single point of failure 36,000 km away from Earth in favour of a fibre network without a redundant loop. Supposedly, this is more redundant.

The company originally planned to roll out a fixed line network (presumably Fibre to the Node) as well as fixed wireless in and around the townships of Queenstown, Rosebery and Zeehan. The plan was to utilise an existing fibre that already services the towns to deliver the service.

The company has since backflipped on these plans, claiming that a second fibre path is required to provide fixed-line services and such costs would be “too expensive” to build.

These are townships with existing fibre and microwave transit network, they already for 3G/4G mobile networks, plus ADSL or ADSL2+ Internet.

Does NBN seriously think dealing with issues with the satellite 36,000 km away from Earth’s surface is easier to fix than a single fibre spur network that already currently services those towns?

Could NBN consider using satellite or microwave network as the second, redundant path in case the main fibre breaks?

For a deeper dive into the topic, read my longer form piece on the situation in West Coast Tasmania.


What’s a “Shallow dive”? Shallow dives are a content format I’m trying out. Essentially, they are shorter, more concise pieces to either summarise detailed analysis pieces I’ve written — or briefly write about topics that I don’t yet have the time to analyse in detail.  Think of them as a TL;DR of the original piece.