Thousands of Australians in regional NSW will get access to faster wireless NBN speeds, after NBN Co and the NSW Government reached an agreement to co-invest and expand the fixed wireless network in the state.
As part of the agreement, 56 new fixed wireless towers will be built across NSW, which will use 5G technology to deliver faster regional internet speeds. The new infrastructure is set to benefit up to 11,000 homes and businesses across 46 areas in regional NSW, including some that are currently only served by the NBN’s satellite service known as Sky Muster.
“Over the next few months, we will commence detailed planning and engage with the community about when the upgrades will occur. These projects will be completed by the end of 2025,” an NBN spokesperson said.
The cost of the co-investment deal between NBN Co and the NSW Government hasn’t been disclosed, but it follows an announcement in March 2022 that the Australian Government and NBN Co would invest AU$750 million (opens in new tab) to expand the reach of fixed wireless NBN.
NBN Co says the new 5G-enabled towers will allow users to reach download speeds of up to 325Mbps on the NBN fixed wireless network, which is significantly faster than even the best NBN 250 plans on the fixed line fibre network.
Two new speed tiers will be introduced to support the higher speeds: ‘home fast’ and ‘home superfast’. The home fast tier is expected to provide speeds up to 100–130Mbps, while the home superfast plan could be capable of that aforementioned 325Mbps.
The battle for regional Australia
The multi-million dollar investment provided by NBN Co, the NSW Government and the Australian Government is a strong indication that the battle for better connectivity in regional Australia has begun in earnest. Those living in regional Australia may not have fast or reliable access to the NBN, and have had to resort to other wireless broadband options.
The NBN is competing against the major telcos as well as specialist private companies, such as Elon Musk’s Starlink, to deliver internet in under-served areas across the country.
NBN Co has partnered with Ericsson to deploy the 5G-ready towers in NSW, and Ericsson says (opens in new tab) the size of Australia is a “geographical challenge” for delivering internet.
In early February, NBN Co told a senate estimates hearing that it had lost 10,000 of its Sky Muster customers (opens in new tab) in the last year. While we can’t know for sure what internet service the former Sky Muster customers might have moved to, there’s a decent chance they’ve moved to Starlink, which is inching closer towards having 100,000 customers in Australia (opens in new tab), and is able to deliver faster speeds than the Sky Muster service is currently capable of.
With the NBN’s fixed wireless towers set to be constructed in areas that are currently served by satellite, it could go some way into keeping users on the NBN network in some form, rather than seeing them desert to NBN alternatives.
If you live in a regional or rural area of Australia, you can go to the NBN’s website to check your address and register for updates (opens in new tab) on NBN upgrades in your area.
The 46 regional areas that will benefit from the expansion of the fixed wireless network are: Baradine, Binda, Bingie, Binnaway, Brayton, Brewarrina, Collombatti, area surrounding Condobolin, area surrounding Coonabarabran, area surrounding Crookwell, Deepwater, Emmaville, Goolgowi, Grabben Gullen, Grattai, area surrounding Grenfell, Gundary, Hargraves, area surrounding Hay, area surrounding Henty, Herons Creek, Kentucky, Kundabung, Laggan, Lower Boro, Merah North, area surrounding Moree, Mungindi, area surrounding Narrabri, Parkesbourne, Pleasant Hills, area surrounding Pokolbin, Quialigo, Quorrobolong, area surrounding Rylstone, area south of Goulburn, Taralga, Tirrannaville / Yarra, Tottenham, Urana, area surrounding Walcha, area surrounding Wee Waa, Wilcannia, Windellama, Woolbrook and Yerong Creek.
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