NBN Co’s Wireless Coverage Gap Will Cost Over $1 Billion To Fix

Malcolm Turnbull warned that this could happen. The NBN’s Fixed Wireless and Satellite network is in strife, and it’s going to cost over $1 billion to make it right.

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The National Broadband Network Company has gone cap in hand to the government today in a new report, asking for up to $1.4 billion to fix a dramatic underestimation of its fixed wireless and satellite capacity.

The fixed wireless and satellite component of the NBN was designed to give those outside of the fibre-to-the-node footprint access to internet speeds at a minimum of 25/5MBps.

Initially, the NBN Co had provisioned $3.5 billion to build around 1400 cell towers and launch two satellites to cater for the demand. That demand had been estimated at around 230,000 premises. Nope.

The review into the fixed wireless and satellite network found that NBN Co underestimated the demand by around 400,000 premises, meaning that 2900 towers will now be required, and possibly a third satellite.

This means that NBN Co will need up to an extra $1.4 billion to solve the shortfall, depending on which of the four options it selects as a solution.

Option one would involve the company rolling the missing premises into the FTTN network, provided that the copper infrastructure around them meets certain criteria. Second would be to split the build between more cell towers and more FTTN. The third would see NBN Co build a third satellite, despite the fact that less than half of its capacity would be used (we assume, NBN Co redacted it in its report). The fourth is to rent a third satellite.

You can read the full report here.