NBN Co refutes claims network will be superseded by mobile broadband

CTO cites ABS data that 93 per cent of Australian internet traffic comes from fixed-line connections

NBN Co chief technology officer, Gary McLaren.

NBN Co chief technology officer, Gary McLaren.

NBN Co has refuted claims by Quantum Market Research analyst, David Chalke, that the National Broadband Network (NBN) is a waste of money due to the rise of mobile internet.

According to a report in the Herald Sun, Chalke said NBN Co was "missing the boat" and cited results from the Australia SCAN social trend survey, showing 71 per cent of the 2000 Australian respondents owned a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

"Everything is going to be wireless by the time they've dug up the roads and stuffed the pipes," he told the Herald Sun.

However, NBN Co chief technology officer, Gary McLaren, said the latest internet data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed 93 per cent of Australians use fixed-line connections to download content.

“The proportion of mobile handset downloads over mobile networks is estimated to make up just 1.4 per cent of total internet downloads in Australia,” he said in a statement.

“Other wireless broadband technologies account for just 6.6 per cent.”

According to McLaren, problems associated with spectrum scarcity, such as mobile congestion, would not go away.

“They may help explain why over the past 12 months the average amount of data being downloaded over mobile devices per subscriber per month grew by only 6 per cent,” he said.

“By contrast, average fixed broadband data usage in the same period grew by more than 80 per cent.”

McLaren added that better fixed-line infrastructure was essential to ease the load being placed on mobile networks and cited an international study conducted by Informa of 200,000 smartphone users.

The study found that nearly 70 per cent of data usage on smartphones was over Wi-Fi rather than mobile networks.

“Wi-Fi generally relies on a fixed line network to connect to the internet,” McLaren said.

“Fixed lines remain the engine-room of downloads in this country and around the world. As data-heavy applications such as video become more prevalent there will be an increasing need for robust fixed connections such as the NBN.

Earlier this month NBN Co flagged plans to raise public awareness of the network through TV and online advertising.

Computerworld Australia has contacted NBN Co for further comments and is awaiting a response.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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