How Fixed Wireless internet is connecting regional Australia

Fixed Wireless

How Fixed Wireless internet is connecting regional Australia

There seems to be a bewildering array of communications technologies in the marketplace today. And within each of them exists several different flavours and configurations depending on geography, spectrum, costs, and other factors. One technology which is garnering more attention is Fixed Wireless internet.

In another blog post, we addressed the question ‘How does fixed wireless even make sense?’. Since then it seems an increasing number of Australian organisations have realised Fixed Wireless internet makes perfect sense. This is especially true in regional and rural areas of Australia. In the absence of ready-access to modern fixed infrastructure like the NBN, these communities are in desperate need of fast and reliable internet to support essential services, homes, farms, and businesses.

Fixed Wireless works on mmWave (millimetre wave) technology, now supporting speeds around 20 gbit/sec. That’s 20-times faster than the 100mbit/sec some people are getting with 4G today.

Millimetre wave sits between microwave and infrared waves, which is the band of spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Interestingly, mmWave is precisely the same technology underpinning 5G!

Regional divide

Despite promises of equal access to internet connectivity, many remote Australian communities are still not getting the internet services that are available in metropolitan areas.

Among the key arguments made in support of a national broadband network, is that it would help ensure organisations in rural and regional Australia were able to access the same level of communications as people and businesses in metropolitan areas.

High-speed internet and reliable internet and phone services should be a given anywhere in the country. An increasingly important driver of this is the greater reliance on cloud services, which isn’t feasible without robust ‘symmetrical’ communications.

But as we know, delivering this promise outside of major metropolitan centres has proved challenging to say the least, and many Australian homes and businesses in regional areas have been left behind.

Meanwhile, a growing number of organisations have embraced Fixed Wireless internet.

Among the organisations switching across to Fixed Wireless internet are regional schools. Education providers in these remote areas are seeing an increased demand for fast internet from students, teachers, and parents to improve learning outcomes, as well as the need to support more efficient sharing of information, and more effective operations.

In the agricultural sector, businesses such as wineries are embracing Fixed Wireless internet connections to establish faster, more reliable communications. With better access to internet, these businesses can now link their own operations and their suppliers right across the supply chain, not just in Australia, but also around the world.

Vets in regional areas face similar if not greater challenges, especially given – just like doctors – they need to manage larger data sets. As do many other professionals, such as lawyers, engineers, architects, and builders operating in regional Australia.

Investment in agriculture technology in Australia is booming, but without a reliable internet service, many farmers are missing out on opportunities to modernise.

Modern farming similarly relies on cloud technologies to track and manage farming assets and access critical data that can improve farming outputs. The Australian Agtech sector is booming with investment, but without an internet connection that can support these technologies, Australian farmers risk missing out on these crucial support tools.  

Of course, many businesses outside of major cites do have good communications. But it’s often inconsistent across the entire operation, which can lead to inefficiencies.

Importantly, reliable access to cloud services has become especially critical for any regional business hoping to effectively manage large numbers of customers, suppliers and partners either nationally or internationally, and increasingly large and complex data sets.

Costs slashed

As Australia’s Fixed Wireless footprint continues to expand, it’s become easier to provision point-to-multipoint solutions, as opposed to simply point-to-point as has been the norm until quite recently.

This has seen the costs of Fixed Wireless internet more than halve in many cases.

Fixed Wireless installation has become much simpler in recent years.

With Fixed Wireless networks, Australian businesses needn’t worry about the costs of deploying actual physical infrastructure, the financial outlay of which can be very high. Instead, the network is connected via radio antennas.

Recent advances in communications software also means it’s easier for businesses and customers to upgrade and maintain Fixed Wireless networks without the need for onsite visits. This improvement is bringing down costs even further.

Without access to – or the budget to build – physical infrastructure in the ground, Fixed Wireless is a powerful, sometimes even faster, solution helping our regional communities overcome unique communications challenges.

And of course, with the recent COVID-19 crisis, this need for greater access to fast and reliable internet to areas outside of metropolitan regions has never been greater.

Fixed Wireless internet in WA and SA

To support Australian farms, homes, and businesses in rural areas, Superloop is building 12 Fixed Wireless structures in Western Australia's Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions.

The project, backed by the Western Australian government's Digital Farm Grants Program aims to provide high-speed internet coverage for over 500 farms, 3,000 businesses, and 6,000 households.

In South Australia, Superloop supports almost 7,000 Fixed Wireless households, giving customers in the state access to internet where NBN has yet to connect.  

These projects are independent of the NBN, which means that Superloop customers have the opportunity to choose the internet services that's right for their needs. This independence also gives Superloop the ability to respond faster to faults or issues, and to organise installation directly with customers and business owners.  

*This post was originally published on 15 June, 2020 and has been updated and refreshed on 16 April 2021.

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