This article takes a look at how the NBN is travelling so far, when the rollout is expected to be completed, and the experience of some of those already using it.
The rollout of Australia’s NBN (National Broadband Network) has been plagued with problems and delays from its inception, with miscalculations of the scale of the project and resultant blowouts in costs. The coalition government’s planned changes to save money by switching from Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to Fibre to the Node (FTTN) have also reduced the NBN’s potential effectiveness
So where is the NBN at now and what’s the general feeling about it so far? Well, as far as the rollout goes, NBN Co expects to complete 91% of the fixed line component by 2019. The wireless component for regional areas, however, is experiencing some delays.
Ericsson Australia, which is assisting NBN Co with rolling out its 4G LTE fixed-wireless network in rural and remote areas of Australia, has said that the unforeseen need to increase the number of mobile towers from 1400 to 2700 has hampered the rollout.
NBN Co has acquired around 800 mobile tower sites to date and, of those, only 280 are currently in service, with the rest still a work in progress and yet to be activated. NBN Co also needs to secure more radio spectrum to provide wireless coverage to some 80,000 premises on the urban fringes.
The tele-health experience
The NBN is being tested, in comparison with ADSL, VDSL and 4G mobile, to ascertain whether it provides a better alternative for tele-health services.
Participants in tele-health studies live in NBN enabled homes and have chronic health conditions. These participants are monitored by daily online vital statistics reports and also through video conferencing with health professionals.
The studies have revealed that fibre to the premises (FTTP) provides a stable and reliable service, particularly with regard to video conferencing. This was compared with 4G mobile, which was considered to be not as reliable.
As far as fibre to the node (FTTN) is concerned, it has been found to be problematic due to factors such as the varying quality of copper telephone lines and the recipient’s distance from an exchange. This means that tele-health services cannot always be provided to some patients. .
As to what the future holds for NBN, the tele-health industry is optimistic and believes that the NBN can only help to improve such in-home services in the long run, particularly in the provision of HD video conferencing.