NBN promises fibre-like speeds for regional NSW with fixed-wireless upgrade

NBN fixed wireless tower in regional NSW
(Image credit: NBN Co)

The National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced a significant upgrade to its fixed wireless network that should provide much-improved connectivity to select homes in regional New South Wales and make the best fixed wireless internet plans more appealing. 

Announcing the news on March 1, 2023, NBN Co said it will be installing 56 new fixed wireless towers that will benefit from the use of the superior 5G millimetre wave (mmWave) frequency. These towers will be funded in collaboration with the NSW Government. 

The NBN has said the upgrades should provide faster and more reliable broadband access to “over 11,000 homes and businesses across regional NSW.” The upgrade works are planned to be completed by December 2024, and this news ties in with the two new fixed wireless speed tiers that will also be introduced in 2024.

These new speed tiers will be called 'home fast' and 'home superfast'. The home fast tier is expected to deliver download speeds between 100 – 130Mbps, while the latter is aiming to deliver download speeds between 200 – 325Mbps, putting in on par with, and potentially exceeding the speeds of, the best NBN 250 plans

Current NBN fixed wireless download speeds max out at 75Mbps, with uploads maxing out at 10Mbps. However, actually achieving these speeds can be difficult for many, due to interference and distance from the transmission tower.

46 regional locations are set to benefit from the upgrades and new installations. Upgrade work has already begun in the suburbs of Batemans Bay, Cullendulla, Durras, Long Beach Hill, Malua Bay, Mogo and Nelligen on the NSW South Coast. 

While the installation of new towers to provide better access is great news, it’s the introduction of 5G mmWave technology that has us excited. 

What is 5G mmWave?

5G mmWave frequency technology has much greater bandwidth, meaning it can support a greater number of connected devices, as well as higher speeds (in theory the equivalent of fixed-line fibre). Ericsson will be the sole supplier of the new towers — which will utilise 4G, 5G and 5G mmWave technologies — and has said it will also introduce its extended-range innovation, which will see the current maximum range of connection of 14km be increased to 29km. 

Ericsson added that the new infrastructure will also eventually allow the current 4G spectrum bands used throughout the fixed wireless network to be upgraded to 5G. 

Indeed, the NBN and the Australian Government have also previously announced a AU$750 million investment which will be used to upgrade in excess of 2,200 fixed wireless infrastructure sites with 5G capability. 

So, while the 46 identified locations will benefit initially from the upgrade work, other areas of regional NSW should also eventually be able to access faster and more reliable speeds.

Max Langridge
Senior Editor, Tom's Guide AU

Max is a digital content writer for Tom’s Guide in Australia, where he covers all things internet-related, including NBN and the emerging alternatives, along with audio and visual products such as headphones and TVs. Max started his career in his homeland of England, where he spent time working for What Hi-Fi? and Pocket-lint, before moving to Australia in 2018.