Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : Issue 1 Contents 38 futureb
r broadband future
do it all
even though the growth rate for mobile is considerably higher than
While wireless is currently enjoying high growth rates, it has
Spectrum is a scarce resource and there is just so much you can
We have seen real increases in speeds and download capacities
offered with wireless networks in the last decade.
Some of this is due to more spectrum becoming available, to
larger channel bandwidths and to better modulation techniques.
But by far the most important factor in the growth of total wireless
capacity has been the increasing number of cells and the shrinking
of cell sizes.
This factor outweighs, by several orders of magnitude, all the
other factors that have led to the million-fold increase in wireless
capacity since the 1950s.
So, why can't we just keep increasing the number of cell sites and
continue to reduce cell sizes?
cells, each serving a small number of premises.
Is this likely to be a cheaper option than FTTP?
I doubt it.
We must remember that wireless is a shared medium, and so we
average speeds are dramatically lower.
High-bandwidth, constant bit rate applications such as IPTV and
HDVC are very challenging over a wireless network.
It is also the case that users at the edge of the cell experience a far
lower grade of service than those in the centre.
At the centre of a cell, in next generation wireless systems, a user
may experience speeds of up to 150Mbps, but at the cell edge the
peak may be only 10-20Mbps.
These are speeds for single users. The speeds obviously reduce as
the number of users in the cell increases.
There is no magic to this. If 100 users on a cell are downloading
content at the same time, each will get, on average one per cent of
the total capacity.
In spite of these limitations there is a very important place for
wireless broadband in the NBN world.
One would be foolish to think otherwise.
But one would be equally foolish to think that wireless
HD video and other high capacity remote computing applications
ve structure right
comparison on broadband penetration rates, so I will not revisit that
data. But we are further behind than we would like to be.
This can be attributed, in part, to the less than ideal industry
structure that we currently have in place.
The telco industry has been dogged by long-running disputes
through the regulator, in the courts and in the media, over the issue
of equivalent access.
Despite years of attempts by the ACCC to resolve access issues,
disputes over equivalence continue.
Given the Government's conviction that ubiquitous high-speed
broadband is critical to Australia's economic future, it is no surprise
that action is being taken to correct the competitive failings of the
need to get the industry structure right.
We have seen that in some metro areas of Australia the DSL market
NBN will enable an improved version of this model to operate
After considerable industry consultation the Government decided
that what is needed is equivalent access, at a wholesale level, to any
bottleneck access assets.
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