NBN Co has commenced feasibility trials for the delivery of broadband services in millimetre-wave spectrum, which it sees as a potential long-term upgrade path for its current fixed wireless footprint.
The company said in a heavily-redacted regulatory filing [pdf] that it is “undertaking trials to validate the feasibility of using the 26GHz and 28GHz band spectrum over very long ranges (approximately 10km)” for the delivery of fixed wireless broadband services.
“Our studies, and those of our technology partners provide high levels of confidence that the long-range use would allow NBN Co to have significant flexibility to maximise our deployment and upgrade options,” it said.
“This long-range approach is enabled by our unique network topology with 100 percent external CPEs [customer premises equipment], and largely line of sight deployment in regional and rural areas.”
NBN Co first flagged millimetre-wave (mmWave) – a type of 5G – as an upgrade path for fixed wireless back in mid-2018.
It started laying the groundwork to be allocated enough mm-Wave spectrum at the end of 2018.
The public-facing documentation does not reveal how far into feasibility trials NBN Co is, though much of the detail is redacted.
NBN Co argued that “any allocation” of mmWave spectrum to it would improve services for customers and “facilitate competition between all NBN Co’s fixed wireless retail service providers in downstream markets”.
It said there are currently “more than 20” retail service providers in the market competing for NBN fixed wireless users.
“Competition will be enhanced and driven where we provide a quality fixed wireless network that efficiently uses spectrum and is upgradable where required,” NBN Co said.
“We anticipate that the outcome of our long-range trials will verify that NBN Co is able to utilise the acquired spectrum in an economically efficient manner.”