Vodafone says NBN could halt 5G technology in Australia

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Vodafone says NBN could halt 5G technology in Australia

Vodafone has flagged concerns that the NBN could impede the advance of 5G telecommunications services in Australia.

The telco said that the NBN was handed the 3.4-3.7 GHz in 2015, which was used to bring fixed wireless services to 80,000 metropolitan fringe customers.

The spectrum was allocated to NBN prior to an agreement that selected the frequencies as the only internationally-aligned 5G band which is likely to be used in Australia.

Vodafone said that about half of the only internationally-aligned 5G band likely to be used will be taken up for non-5G purposes.

Vodafone pointed out that NBN Co was given other options to connect these premises, but did not suggest that the spectrum be immediately withdrawn from NBN Co.

"However, there should be a serious examination of the alternatives and options and the costs and benefits of each," Vodafone said in a submission to the joint committee on the NBN.

"For example, other spectrum bands could be fit for use for NBN Co’s fixed wireless network and NBN could be allocated appropriate other spectrum bands which are not primary candidates for 5G."

Vodafone also suggested bringing the 80,000 services in question onto fibre-to-the-node services, which although more expensive, was “likely to be a fraction of the proceeds of the sale of 5G spectrum at auction".

The telco said that if the spectrum was taken away from NBN Co, a portion of the proceeds could be given to NBN to migrate those customers to alternative services.

"The costs of any such transition are likely to be minimised the earlier the problem is seriously considered, so establishing a clear process for examining these issues on their merits should be seriously considered," the submission concluded.

Vodafone plans to enter the broadband market this year with its own fixed broadband services for consumer and enterprise customers on the NBN.

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