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Australia Sets New Distance Record for 1Gbps Speed via 5G mmW UPDATE

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 (9:44 am) - Score 1,488
5g_mmw_record_mast_australia_photo

The nbn™ Fixed Wireless network in Australia has just set what appears to be a new “world record” after it reached a broadband speed of “close” to 1Gbps (1000Mbps) via 5G mobile technology in a millimetre-wave (mmWave) band, using about 400MHz of spectrum bandwidth, over a distance of 7.3km.

The previous record was set only last month in Italy – in the town of Front (Turin) – after a collaboration between TIM, Ericsson, Casa Systems and Qualcomm resulted in speeds of 1Gbps (Gigabit per second) being achieved over a distance of 6.5km using the 26GHz band (here).

The same band was also used in the nbn test (we had to confirm this as it wasn’t in the announcement) and they appear to have adopted a comparable setup by harnessing similar kit from Ericsson, Qualcomm and Casa Systems. All of this occurred at a proof-of-concept site near Mortlake, Victoria.

Nevertheless, reaching c.1Gbps at 7.3km is a big achievement. The problem with mmWave (mmW) bands for low power wireless communications has been that such signals are extremely weak and thus they don’t tend to travel very far before their usefulness expires. As a result, constructing a mobile network that can harness them tends to be expensive and is only really viable in busy urban areas (e.g. shopping centres) or for a point to point style Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) service to homes/businesses.

5g_mmw_record_transfer_australia_photos WIDE

The nbn in Australia is currently exploring 5G technology operating in mmW spectrum as part of its commitment to enhance customer experience and evolve the FWA network for future needs. The network currently covers more than 620,000 premises across regional and rural areas, with more than 90% of customers currently within 7.3km of such a cell. Hence the need for this trial.

Ray Owen, NBN Co Chief Technology Officer, said:

“This is a significant achievement for nbn and our technology partners, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies and Casa Systems, we anticipate strong interest from the global technology community as we further develop these capabilities. With industry development for mmWave largely focussed on high-density urban environments, this trial helps prove the case for additional work to suit the unique requirements of the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network and other regional and rural use-cases around the world.”

One catch here is that the above test was conducted during perfect weather, which in fairness is likely to be much more common in the arid conditions of the Australia outback. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see what happens when the signal has to contend with rain and dust whipped up by windy conditions, since mmW bands may suffer in such conditions over distance.

UPDATE 14th Jan 2021

We’ve been able to get the raw speeds for this. Apparently, the peak download speed hit 900Mbps, with 850Mbps being achieved consistently. But more interestingly the upload rate was just 25Mbps, which is distinctly less impressive.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Kevinp says:

    NBN all fluff and pretty announcements. Crunch time its a political spin machine when elections are closing in.

    1. Leex says:

      NBN is a complete mess

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