Fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) is a better and cheaper alternative for the National Broadband Network (NBN) than a wireless network rollout, according to NBNco CEO, Mike Quigley.
Speaking at the Realising Our Broadband Future forum in Sydney, Quigley said many had questioned him on the viability of fibre over wireless technology but claimed only a fixed-line service would satiate Australia’s broadband consumers.
He highlighted Cisco's projections that fixed IP traffic had dwarfed mobile IP and will continue to do so in the coming years.
“While wireless is enjoying high growth rates, it has inherent limitations compared to fibre,” Quigley said. “Spectrum is a scarce resource and there is just so much you can do to increase spectral efficiency using better modulation techniques and coding schemes.”
The shared nature of wireless also needs to be considered since bandwidth is divided and users on the fringe of cell sites receive lower-grade services, he claimed. While increasing the number and reducing the size of the sites is a method of increasing speeds and download capacity, these stations still need fibre backhaul.
“But is that likely to be a cheaper option than FTTP? I don’t think so,” Quigley said. “[Wireless] peak speeds may be high and equal to those of fibre currently but average speed is dramatically lower.”
He noted the challenges high-bandwidth applications, such as IPTV and high-definition (HD) video conferencing, would present for wireless but admitted such technology is still useful to the NBN.
“In spite of these implications, there is a very important place for wireless broadband in the NBN world and one would be foolish to think otherwise,” Quigley said. “But one would be equally foolish to think wireless technology is going to solve our traffic needs, particularly as HD video and other high capacity remote applications proliferate.”