Connect homes to NBN via our 5G: Optus

Luke Costin
(Australian Associated Press)


Optus wants a bigger say in how the NBN is rolled out, arguing some homes should be connected via its own 5G network.

Chief executive Allen Lew also wants telco workers to be able to install and maintain the network which is now available to 75 per cent of Australian homes and businesses.

“The NBN certainly could well be a time bomb but, as an industry, we have the power to work collaboratively with NBN Co to put out the fuse before the inevitable happens,” Mr Lew told an industry conference in Sydney on Monday.

The chief of the Singapore-owned telco says 5G fixed wireless service options should be introduced into the NBN mix where existing service capability is likely to be limited.

Currently, 600,000 premises are connected to the NBN’s 4G fixed wireless service but NBN Co has no plan to extend fixed wireless services more widely.

But Mr Lew says 5G could bring gigabit speeds in a quick and cost-effective manner to households where extending fibre or upgrading copper is the current connection plan.

NBN Co could buy wholesale capacity from telcos, who would then compete among other retailers to sell plans back to the 5G-connected homes.

“This would be a win-win for customers and NBN Co,” the Optus chief said.

“Customers would get access to faster speeds through the latest technology and NBN Co avoids the capital to upgrade part of its network to achieve ultra-high-speed services.”

About 8.77 million homes and businesses in Australia are ready to connect to the NBN as of March 28.

The remaining three million premises are scheduled to be ready to connect by the end of 2020.

Mr Lew also urged NBN Co to follow hardware providers Ericsson, Nokia and Cisco in training Optus to service and install their equipment.

He said too many customers are confused by the hand-off between sub-contractors, NBN Co and retail service providers, such as Optus and Telstra.

“Customer engagement becomes simpler when they only have one organisation providing their service,” he said.

Optus says it will have 1200 5G sites across Canberra and all mainland states by March 2020.

NBN Co has been contacted for comment.

It recorded $1.3 billion in revenue in the second half of 2018, 46 per cent up on the last six months of 2017.


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