Fixed Wireless is used to connect some rural and remote Australian areas to the nbn™ network. Here’s how it works.

The nbn™ network is made up of a Multi Technology Mix, comprised of fixed line, Fixed Wireless (FW), and satellite technologies.

Unlike the fixed line access technologies that include Fibre-to-the-Building, Fibre-to-the-Premises, Fibre-to-the-Node, and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial, Fixed Wireless is a type of nbn™ network connection that’s used in certain rural or remote areas where fixed line technologies aren’t typically readily available. 

What is Fixed Wireless?

A Fixed Wireless connection is created by transmitting data via radio signals from an nbn™ Fixed Wireless transmission tower.

nbn™ Fixed Wireless transmission towers are built in chains connected to each other through microwave links, with the hub transmission tower connected directly to an exchange via fibre.

The end user premises will receive the signal via an nbn external antenna, which in turn feeds the signal via a connecting cable to an nbn™ connection box through a wall outlet inside the ender user’s premises.

Both the nbn™ outdoor antenna and nbn™ connection box must be installed by an approved nbn™ installer.

Currently, over the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, nbn offers wholesale speed tiers of up to 12/1Mbps, 25/5Mbps, or up to 50/20Mbps to Retail Service Providers (RSPs), who in turn sell retail plans to the end user.*

Services over the Fixed Wireless network are already available to more than 500,000 Australian premises in remote and rural areas.

Why we use Fixed Wireless

Fixed Wireless technology is often used in rural or remote areas, where end user premises may be spread across a wide area.

Each nbn™ Fixed Wireless tower can support connections to multiple premises without the need to run individual fixed line connections to each one.

These towers take advantage of advanced wireless technology to deliver consistent bandwidth to premises in rural and remote areas.

The future of Fixed Wireless

In 2018, nbn plans to make use of new Carrier Aggregation technology to increase the bandwidth and capacity of the Fixed Wireless network..

This would mean nbn could offer higher wholesale speed tiers including up to 100/40Mbps wholesale speeds to RSPs over our Fixed Wireless network.* The fastest retail plans on offer from most RSPs at present for services over the nbn™ network are based on the same wholesale speed tier.

Once this is in effect, end users who order a retail plan based on the new nbn™ 100 wholesale product* will need a new Wireless Network Termination Device (nbn™ connection box) to be installed by an approved nbn™ installer. This new hardware will be provided by nbn.

Recently, nbn achieved peak wholesale 1.1GBps download and 165Mbps upload trial speeds in a Fixed Wireless test, suggesting even more exciting developments may lie before us in the future.^  

Fixed Wireless installation process

A nbn™ Fixed Wireless connection requires an approved nbn™ installer to visit an end user’s premises.

Complimentary installation by an nbn™ installer normally takes between two to four hours, and involves the configuration of both external and internal proprietary equipment.

If an end user requires a nonstandard FW installation, this may take additional time and in some circumstances, may also incur a fee.

For a standard nbn™ Fixed Wireless install, an nbn™ outdoor antenna is mounted externally, usually with line of sight to the relevant nbn™ Fixed Wireless transmission tower, on either the roof or the eaves of the roof.

A small hole is then drilled through the wall of the premises, and a connecting cable is fed from the nbn™ outdoor antenna to an nbn™ connection box.

This nbn™ connection box is usually installed on an inside wall of the premises, but sometimes an installation may require the nbn™ connection box to be installed externally. In either instance, a nbn™ connection box requires power to operate.

Once the relevant equipment has been installed and tested, nbn completes network configurations, after which an end user’s preferred RSP completes their set-up, which allows a premise to connect to services over the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network.

An Ethernet cable would be used to connect the nbn™ connection box to a compatible router.

The router may be provided by an end user’s preferred RSP, or by the end user themselves.

Ready-for-service implications

A premises’ existing copper line (or equivalent) service, should there be one, should not be altered by the installation of a Fixed Wireless connection.

Because of this, there’s generally no switch-off date for copper based phone services to premises with nbn™ network connections over the Fixed Wireless technologies.

However, connecting to Fixed Wireless technology over the nbn™ network facilitates access to new landline phone services via the data port on the nbn™ connection box.

Landline phone and internet services won’t work if there is a power outage at the nbn™ Fixed Wireless Tower, backbone network or within your premises.

Restoring power to your premises with an alternative power option will have no effect if the nbn™ Fixed Wireless Tower is also experiencing power loss. You should consider keeping a charged mobile phone in case there is a power outage of any sort.

When ordering an nbn™ service in a Fixed Wireless area, have a discussion with your current service provider about your existing landline.

If you have an existing copper phone line it is important to consider keeping it in service for emergency communications, especially if you don’t have good mobile phone coverage at your home or business.

Read more here.

End users can speak with their preferred RSP about phone and internet plans for services over the nbn™ network.

To find out whether nbn™ Fixed Wireless is RFS in an area, or at which point it may be available during the nbn™ rollout, you can check your address below.

* We’re designing the nbn™ network to provide these speeds to our wholesale customers, telephone and internet service providers. Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network depends on technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network.

^ nbn provides services to its wholesale customers, telephone and internet service providers, and does not provide services directly to end users. These speeds were achieved by end users in the context of a trial and are not necessarily reflective of the speeds that will be experienced by end users. End user experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network depends on the technology over which services are delivered to their premises and some factors outside our control like equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how the end user’s service provider designs its network.

Check your address to see if you can connect to the nbn™ network.

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