The consensus view of our future is that everything that can be connected will be – as long as reliable network coverage exists.

Wireless Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) is disrupting virtually every industry sector worldwide. But still today, almost half of the world’s population live in underserved rural, regional and outer urban areas with little or no access to online education, remote patient care, smart energy, precision farming and other increasingly essential digital applications and services.

To quote the words of author William Gibson - “The future is here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Global attention is fixed on the critical role that networks play in sustaining the growth of our digital future, and few would argue against the need to invest in network expansion to support the digital demands of the coming years.

Universal fast broadband coverage is becoming ever more critical with the surge of digital services and the rise of wireless M2M and IoT, and the ground is beginning to shift as governments acknowledge the profound economic and social necessity of broadband connectivity.

According to the World Economic Forum, “Digital technology’s most powerful attribute may be its ability to level the playing field for everyone, everywhere. There are few areas in which governments can have a bigger impact than helping to extend digital infrastructure and access throughout their countries.”

In healthcare, broadband connectivity is helping to lower hospital admissions, emergencies and travel costs. This means better health outcomes for patients, and cost savings for governments. Comparable efficiency and productivity outcomes are being realised across diverse industry sectors worldwide.

Ubiquitous and affordable nationwide broadband is the goal, and while the funding and operating models vary from country to country, the common objective is to deliver universal fast broadband quickly and economically.

In major cities and surrounding districts, substantial deployment time and cost savings are accomplished by optimising the use of existing network assets, such as fibre and copper. But questions remain around how best to reach rural, regional and outer urban areas where it is impractical, or too costly, to deploy these city-based technologies.

When comparing the options, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that Fixed Wireless is the best fit-for-purpose technology, delivering a practical solution that overcomes the economic barriers that hinder network expansion into outer areas.

Fixed Wireless broadband uses existing technology in a new way, and in doing so helps to overcome the capital expenditure, high operating cost and low returns that have, until now, created an economic barrier to national connectivity across vast geographies globally.

Using existing cellular technology to deliver guaranteed performance cost-effectively, Fixed Wireless broadband makes it more commercially viable than ever before to extend connectivity beyond city limits. Although Fixed Wireless uses the same underlying technology as mobile wireless, it differs in that it services a specific number of designated homes, businesses and institutions to deliver optimal performance to premises in precise coverage areas.

Base stations communicate with a network termination device at the customer's premises using line of sight, and this gives homes, businesses and industry an amount of bandwidth that guarantees performance.

In Australia, the government funded National Broadband Network (nbn™) uses Fixed Wireless to deliver broadband speeds of up to 50Mpbs to hard-to-reach areas nationwide. This is bringing unprecedented opportunities to entire industry sectors in areas such as commercial farming where applications such as precision agriculture, livestock tracking, surveillance and video conferencing are transforming business and operational efficiencies.

Kirby ‘Smart’ Farm is a 7,000 acre commercial farm that also develops agriculture technology with the CSIRO for the benefit of all farmers. The nbn™ Fixed Wireless network allows Professor David Lamb and his team from the University of New England to connect and manage dynamic tracking and monitoring equipment in an area that previously lacked sufficient connectivity.

The German government is the latest to have launched its first nationwide broadband programme, recently announcing plans to achieve universal 50Mbps broadband coverage by 2018.

The expectation is that by 2020, up to 50 billion people, processes, places and things will be interconnected. To enable a digital future for all, multiple public and private stakeholders must continue to collaborate closely on the practical and economical expansion of network coverage to achieve universal broadband coverage.

About NetComm Wireless

NetComm Wireless Limited (ASX: NTC) is a leading developer ofFixed Wireless Regional Broadband and wireless Machine-to-Machine (M2M) devices that underpin an increasingly connected world. Leading telecommunications carriers, core network providers and system integrators utilise NetComm Wireless' 3G, 4G LTE and new generation Fixed Wireless solutions to optimise network performance and to support their connected products and services in the M2M and regional broadband markets. For the past 34 years, NetComm Wireless has developed a portfolio of world first data communication products, and is now a globally recognised wireless innovator. Headquartered in Sydney (Australia), NetComm Wireless has offices in the US, Europe/UK, New Zealand, Middle East and Japan. For more information, visit www.netcommwireless.com.