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Fixed Wireless – is it fixed or is it wireless?! Well, both. Let us explain. The ‘wireless’ here doesn’t refer to how you connect to the Internet in your house (say, via Wi-Fi); it refers to how the Internet gets to your house in the first place.
The majority of NBN connections are ‘fixed line’,1 which means they’re transmitted right to people’s homes via cables (depending on the type of connection, by a combination of fibre-optic, coaxial and copper cables). But in remote or regional areas – especially where homes are many kilometres away from each other – as you can imagine, laying cables right to every premises could get a little unwieldy! So in these instances, data travels via cable to a transmission tower, and then via radio the rest of the way.2 There you have it: first it’s fixed, then it’s wireless.
Fixed Wireless travels via fibre-optic cable to a Fixed-Wireless transmission tower. From there, it travels via LTE or 4G signals to a radio antenna attached to your house. It travels from the antenna to an NBN connection box inside your home, and from there to your modem.3
Fixed Wireless NBN does require a little bit of setup. Even if you already have a TV antenna, you’ll need an outdoor NBN antenna fixed to your premises.4 This typically gets installed in one of two ways:5
Fixed Wireless also needs a few more things to make the magic happen: a modem and an ethernet cable. Your provider will usually set you up with these essentials (unless you already have an NBN-compliant modem).6
From here, this is all pretty easy to set up. You’ll just need to connect the NBN connection box to your modem with an ethernet cable.7 Then, voila! You're all set to connect your devices to the Internet.
Fixed Wireless NBN occupies a pretty unique niche. It’s not the first choice for people living in bustling cities like Melbourne or Sydney, but it’s a godsend for people in remote areas where fixed-line options like Fibre to the Premises and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial are pretty scarce.
Sadly, it can’t reach the same top speeds as these heavy hitters. The highest speed you can usually get on an NBN Fixed Wireless Plus plan will usually sit somewhere below 70Mbps.8 And while this is overall faster than the average speed you’ll get from NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service,9 the fastest fixed-line plans leave them both in the dust.10,11
|Feature||Fixed-line NBN||Fixed Wireless NBN|
|Speed||Up to 1000Mbps12||Up to 70Mbps13|
|Reliability||Generally more reliable.14||Can be affected by weather like heavy rain or extreme heat.15|
|Latency||Lower latency. Great for real-time applications like online gaming or video conferences.16||Higher latency. Less ideal for real-time applications.17|
|Coverage||Available in cities and some regional areas.18 Requires physical infrastructure.||Available in areas where laying cables is difficult, such as rural and remote areas.19|
There are a few little tweaks that can help you get the most out of your Fixed Wireless NBN connection. As luck would have it, they’re pretty easy to implement, too! Here are some tips for smoother surfing on the web, even with a slow connection:
The type of NBN setup you can get depends a lot on where you live. But you still have a choice when it comes to your Internet Plan and provider. And that’s where iSelect is here to help. We’ve partnered with our friends at CIMET to make finding a great plan from their range of providers easy. Get started comparing Internet Plans* online today or call our friendly team on 13 19 20.
1 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – NBN Wholesale Market Indicators Report
2 NBN Co – nbn® Fixed Wireless explained
3 NBN Co – nbnTM technology 101: What is Fixed Wireless?
4 NBN Co – nbn® Fixed Wireless explained
5 As above
6 As above
7 NBN Co – Fixed Wireless Explained
8 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Measuring Broadband Australia Program, p30
9 NBN Co – Our premier satellite service for homes and small businesses
10 Tangerine – Key Facts Sheet: NBN Services
11 More Telecom - Key Facts Sheet: NBN Services
12 NBN Co – Upgrade to nbn's fast fibre
13 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Measuring Broadband Australia Program, p30
14 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Australians receive consistent download speeds as fixed wireless connections improve
15 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Measuring Broadband Australia Program, p28
16 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Broadband Performance Data
17 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Most gamers enjoy fast connections as online gaming experience measured for first time
18 NBN Co – Rollout Map
19 NBN Co – NBN Fixed Wireless explained
20 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – Broadband speeds
21 NBN Co – Tips to optimise your home internet set-up
22 Aussie Broadband – Not all nbn® modem routers are equal
23 NBN Co – Tips to optimise your home internet set-up