Millions of Australians around the world are waiting for the National Broadband Network (NBN) to reach their door, but whilst they wait, another company is taking advantage of the demand and offering a wireless network with fibre-like download and upload speeds. Lightning Broadband is starting its empire in Melbourne’s inner suburbs with healthy plans to expand to other state capitals.
Lightning Broadband will be connecting homes and businesses to the Internet via a 5.8GHz microwave link that will be capable of delivering 100 Mbps upload and download speeds to residential properties and a 1,000 Mbps line to corporate customers. That is enough to outperform the current connection speeds of the NBN fibre-optic network.
The company has already signed up their first customer in Melbourne’s inner east and the rollout of its service will follow demand. Lightning Broadband will accept registrations of interest on its website from potential customers. They understand there is a large demand for high speed Internet and since the announcement of NBN in 2007, the country has become fed up with waiting, according to founder, Jeremy Rich. Numerous people that I have personally spoken to are very disappointed with NBN, not only because of the sluggish rollout speed, but also the performance of the network.
So why is Lightening Broadband different? Firstly, it’s set up differently and works by beaming a signal from a tall building to microwave dishes on the roof of each home. Secondly, the company offer unlimited downloads with residential customers having the choice between four different speeds ranging from 25 Mbps both upload and download for $75 per month and maxing out at 100 Mbps up and down for $120 per month. If you want voice over IP, they also provide this service but not standard home phone services.
Lightning Broadban gives customers dishes which are aligned with a microwave transmitter on tall buildings in their area connected to the company’s core network (via 24 GHz microwave backhaul links to main towers connected with a 1-gigabit fibre).
Those residential customers within a 2 km radius of the transmitter will require a microwave dish on their roof to receive signal that is installed as part of the $499 set up fee (part of a 2 year contract). Traffic is not relayed between homes because the system does require direct line of sight to the transmitter, however a relay has been set up in certain locations.
Businesses are able to sign up to a 1,000 Mbps microwave link that doesn’t share a transmitter with any other users. Lightning Broadband also offers services for both developers and body corporates. Before installation the company will do a site survey to ensure it can deliver realistically achievable speeds that customers will be happy with. They claim to be hell bent on meeting their performance commitments by not allocating too many homes to the same transmitter either.
It really is a matter of looking at an area and understanding that technology is more economically viable, but for the time being, if you are still relying on a 4G network to receive Internet in your home, this can be a viable solution for a more fixed and high-speed line.
Australia as a nation is abandoning the idea of a nationwide fibre rollout and this is why we believe microwave has a key role to play in filling the void. Microwave has proven to be one of the most resilient network technologies over the past two decades and it only continues to improve. That is not to say that it will replace broadband or fibre optic in a densely populated area, but rather as the ideal solution for locations that are outside of the major telecom rollouts within the suburbs and further afield.