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NBN Co chief attempts knock-out blow in fibre vs wireless fight

NBN Co chief attempts knock-out blow in fibre vs wireless fight

Telco industry's help needed to end "sterile" fibre vs wireless NBN debate

NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, has sought to drive the final nail into the fibre versus mobile wireless contest stating that politics surrounding the technology debate had become “sterile”.

Speaking at the Broadband and Beyond 2011 industry conference in Sydney, Quigley said the industry’s help was needed to get beyond the politics and toward the facts of the competing technologies.

“… [The fibre versus wireless debate] refuses to go away,” he said. “I’m hoping you folks can help get us past this rather sterile debate which continues. If you get the chance to stand up and make the argument, please do.”

Quigley noted comments from AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, dismissing 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology as a viable replacement to fibre.

“He said if you take HSPA+… and you go out to west Texas, which is a bit like going into the outback for us, and if you put two people in a cell site you can get two megabits per second,” he said

“You take HSPA+ and put in downtown Manhattan and you load a cell site – even with fibre with that backhaul and — you are going to get three [megabits per second]. 4G will be the same thing.”

According to Quigley, network planners, such as those at Telstra, realised bandwidth applications were being developed that would make even the latest mobile technologies to deal with.

“That is why we are no seeing a change happen,” he said. “I am not arguing, by the way, that fixed fibre is better than mobile. They are both complementary and both have advantages and disadvantages.”

The chief executive also noted research from Analysis Mason which tracked a new phase of fixed-mobile substitution in which traffic from mobile networks was increasingly being transferred onto fixed wireless networks, rather than the opposite.

“Today in Europe 75 per cent of wireless downloads are happening in the home and they expect that to go to 90 per cent by 2015. Every big telco I speak to in the world is working hard to get data off their cellular mobile networks and onto a fixed network, using for example, Wi-Fi.

“It doesn’t mean mobile networks aren’t good and useful and we don’t need them — we absolutely must have… They are going to be extremely useful, but there are applications for each.”

As reported by Computerworld Australia Quigley also noted that Armidale was on track to be announced in April as the first mainland NBN site to go live.

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