With rural areas now accounting for around half of the world's population, governments are pushing for national connectivity that extends well beyond the realm of smart cities and urban infrastructure. As well as connecting rural and regional communities, rural broadband facilitates wireless Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications such as precision agriculture, remote patient care, e-commerce, smart energy, emergency services and online education nationwide.

The strong link between broadband growth and economic development is compelling governments worldwide to undertake rural broadband trials and projects similar to Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), which uses a mix of technologies to connect the nation.

In rural and remote areas, fixed-wireless is the stronger fit-for-purpose technology, as demonstrated by the NBN Co and Ericsson run 3.5GHz LTE TDD fixed wireless trial carried out in partnership with NetComm Wireless to expand wireless coverage and capacity in Australia. NBN Co advised that the Wireless Network Termination Devices (WNTD) provided by NetComm Wireless 'met or exceeded performance expectations'; as was the case when NetComm Wireless supplied WNTD devices for the NBN's successful 2.3 GHz LTE TDD fixed-wireless rollout.

According to Boston Consulting Group, 'fixed-wireless provides a formidable solution over long distances and for premises located a long way from an exchange or tower.'[1] The report found that ADSL speeds slow to 4Mbps at distances beyond 4km from the exchange, and fibre is cripplingly expensive to deploy in remote areas, as is hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cable when not being used to deliver subscription television. Spot beam satellite offers an alternative, but high cost and latency issues make satellite a last resort solution.

This leaves fixed-wireless technology which uses the same underlying technology as mobile wireless, but 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 fixed equipment at the customer's premises using line of sight, giving homes, businesses and industry an amount of bandwidth that guarantees performance. Because fixed wireless is engineered to deliver specific capacity to targeted premises, carriers can meet their headline speed claims for various products.

Governments in the US, Canada the UK and Europe have recognised the urgent need to connect across the digital divide, and NetComm Wireless' fixed-wireless technologies are proven to present the most economical solution for the deployment of rural broadband initiatives.


[1] Boston Consulting Group. Connecting Rural Markets. How Fixed Wireless is unlocking digital everywhere. 2014.