Thankfully New Zealand doesn’t echo Australia’s ridiculously politicised telecommunications scene.
Across the Tasman, those on the right of the political spectrum take every opportunity to dismiss government plans to build the NBN – a fibre to the premises network. Meanwhile, some NBN supporters are just as fanatical.
Things took a turn for the surreal when Australians learnt of Samsung’s 5G announcement. The company demonstrated 28GHz band wireless technology capable of delivering data at multi-gigabit rates.
The NBN’s opponents leapt on this news as evidence the fibre roll-out is a waste of time. NBN’s supporters were quick to dismiss those arguments and claim wireless data will never move beyond being an also-ran technology.
As is often the case with Australian communications debates, there is more heat than light.
Where consumers have a choice – Japan is the most obvious example – wireless data networks inhibit fibre uptake. But then NBN supporters point out users share wireless bandwidth and it is impractical for high-speed applications.
Or maybe not. Samsung’s 5G…
…it will not be your grandfather’s “shared and congested” wireless, given the antenna theory behind 5G essentially mimics a point-to-point network.
- Grahame Lynch writing in CommsDay
The 28Ghz band is line-of-site and, apparently, difficult to work with. Samsung’s demo delivered 1Gbps, but only over 2 kilometres. In other words a practical 5G network means a lot of fibre will be laid to cell towers. Along the way it will pass a lot of homes and businesses. So to some extent, a 5G roll-out could complement a fibre roll-out in New Zealand where Chorus connects homes and cell towers.
Australia’s market is so comprehensively distorted by the government’s NBN project that the prospects for any alternative network are effectively at the government’s whim. If 5G challenged NBN, officials could simply strangle it in its infancy with a little careful policy bastardry.
New Zealand’s telecommunications market isn’t perfect, but when it comes to politics intersects with technology, few here steal jealous glances across the Tasman.