Select Australians in regional areas will get their NBN via fixed wireless connections. Here’s what you need to know about fixed wireless NBN.
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How does fixed wireless NBN work?
Like Satellite NBN, Fixed Wireless NBN is designed primarily for regional locations that for reasons of distance cannot or will not be connected to fixed line (FTTP, FTTN or HFC Cable) NBN connections.
Fixed Wireless NBN uses 4G LTE connectivity, similar to the 4G LTE provided by mobile broadband providers. With Fixed Wireless, an NBN base station is designed to service a fixed number of premises within a single area. Because of that fixed number of premises, the throughput of a fixed wireless NBN connection should be more consistent than that of a mobile broadband connection.
The fact that it utilises wireless technology still gives it scope for speeds to vary, especially depending on the other users connected to a base station, but it should be more reliable than mobile, where a large number of users may be connected at a given time.
How fast is fixed wireless NBN?
The quoted speeds for fixed wireless NBN services currently sit at three speed tiers: 12MBps down/1Mbps up, 25Mbps down/5Mbps upstream or 50Mbps down and 20Mbps upstream. The national broadband network has also announced that its 100/40Mbps speed tier will be available to fixed wireless customers from early 2018. As with any wireless technology, that’s a best case scenario where those figures are quoted as "up to" figures. For most within the fixed wireless NBN footprint this is likely to be a significant upgrade compared to any other available current alternatives.
Where is fixed wireless NBN available?
As with every other aspect of the NBN, your access to fixed wireless NBN services will depend on your precise location. You don’t get to choose between NBN technologies, but broadly speaking fixed wireless rollouts are meant to serve around 4 percent of the Australian population, typically speaking in semi-remote regional areas; those more remote will be offered satellite NBN while those in larger population centres will either be served with FTTP NBN or FTTN NBN.
How can I compare fixed wireless NBN plans?
Fixed Wireless NBN is offered at three speed tiers, with the 12/1Mbps plans typically being cheaper than their faster 25/5Mbps or 50/20Mbps counterparts as you'd expect. The addition of 50/20Mbps Fixed Wireless offerings does depend on availability on a given fixed wireless tower, however, but most towers should now support it.
If you want the fastest possible fixed wireless plan you will typically pay more than you would for the entry level 12/1Mbps plans. That's not the only cost to bring to a comparison, however, as you also should consider the provided data quota with each plan to gauge the overall true cost of a plan. Unlike mobile broadband you shouldn't pay through the nose for fixed wireless NBN data, but choosing a plan appropriate to your likely data usage needs is wise.
Will I need a new modem for fixed wireless NBN?
The installation of a fixed wireless NBN connection involves the installation of both an NBN connection box inside your home or remote office, as well as an antenna on the roof. That can then be connected to a wireless gateway. One may be provided by your ISP, but as the ports on a standard fixed wireless nbn connection box are normal ethernet you could also use your own equipment.