Gigabit speeds for all Australians – is this a fantasy?

April 1st, 2021 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Heidi Kraak

Nationwide gigabit speeds may sound like a fanciful dream – particularly in a country as vast as Australia. However, that reality may be closer than you think.

Faster internet speeds are becoming increasingly accessible for businesses and residential users across the country thanks to a range of developments from wholesaler NBN Co and the gradual rollout of the 5G network.

It’s true – speed is not the only factor that makes up a good internet service. Reliability, cost and scalability are also important. However, access to fast internet opens up a host of opportunities for Australians and Australian businesses in terms of reaching new markets, utilising the latest technologies and connecting communities.

Gamers aren’t the only ones who should be getting excited about the prospect of gigabit speeds.

What is gigabit internet?

Before we look at the benefits of gigabit speeds or how they are being rolled out across the country, it’s important to understand what they are.

Gigabit internet allows users to download data at a rate of 1000 megabits – or one gigabit – per second. Large files, such as movies, can be downloaded in seconds. Alternatively, symmetrical gigabit speeds may be highly useful to businesses that regularly upload large files.

There are a range of ways to achieve close to gigabit internet. While it cannot guarantee gigabit speeds, dedicated fibre-optic infrastructure is the most likely to deliver consistently high speeds. Additionally, proponents of the 5G network are confident it will achieve gigabit speeds with ease when it reaches its peak, however, it’s still early days for the network.

How can Australians access gigabit speeds?

Broadband wholesaler NBN Co has a number of programs that form some solid stepping stones towards the goal of close to gigabit speeds for all Australians.

NBN Co’s 1000 – or Ultrafast – plans are becoming increasingly accessible as the wholesaler’s $4.5 billion network investment program works towards the goal of making the highest wholesale speed tiers available to 75% of homes and businesses on the fixed line network.

Additionally, as part of NBN Co’s fibre rollout program, 9 out of 10 businesses across the country are eligible for a $0 fibre upgrade* if they sign up to a 36-month nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet plan. This is a major step forward considering the high cost of installation had previously barred many businesses from accessing the superior infrastructure, which is capable of conducting close to gigabit speeds.

While it’s true that fibre cannot be guaranteed to carry gigabit speeds at all times – there are other factors at play – accessing gigabit speeds is not possible on older copper connections. This is why the fibre rollout package is a big deal.

Other recent developments are ticking away in the background, heralding a potential increase in the accessibility of close to gigabit speeds – in their product roadmap, NBN Co have said they will begin consultation with industry regarding the introduction of gigabit speeds to the fibre-to-the-curb network. This consultation will seek to identify potential demand of the higher tier speeds, as well as the practicality of the plan.

In the meantime, a fibre connection, paired with a service provider that consistently monitors network usage and doesn’t over-purchase bandwidth, is your best bet in achieving close to gigabit speeds.

Will the 5G network reach gigabit speeds?

The gradual expansion of the 5G network across the nation will also go some way in bringing the country up to gigabit speeds – peak download speeds of 4.2 gigabits/second have been achieved using the technology in a lab. However, users are not likely to experience those kinds of speeds in day-to-day use in the short term. It is still early days for the network.

It’s worth noting, however, that there are possibilities for 5G technology and fixed-line infrastructure to work together to improve speed outcomes for rural and regional Australian communities. Earlier this year, NBN Co achieved a world record for long-range 5G transmission – the successful trial was exploring how 5G technology could optimise the existing nbn™ network in remote and regional communities.

It may be some time until the capabilities of 5G technology are fully realised, however, it is encouraging to see some early success.

Which industries benefit from gigabit internet?

Just about every industry can benefit from gigabit speeds.

Many emerging business trends in 2021 are dependent on fast and reliable connectivity. AI, for example, is rapidly transforming the way businesses manage everything from customer service and marketing, to manufacturing. Gigabit speeds – or close to gigabit speeds – can facilitate these emerging trends and help Australian businesses stay ahead of the curve.

Perhaps less obviously, the healthcare industry is also more dependent on bandwidth and ultrafast speeds than ever as it adopts new technologies, such as patient IoT devices, digital imaging and EMR equipment. In fact, Australian healthcare is becoming so reliant on connectivity that NBN Co has committed to establishing at least 14 new business fibre zones to support existing health precincts, including major hospitals and education/research facilities.

While nationwide gigabit speeds may not be on the cards for the immediate future, we’re certainly seeing steps in the right direction with the fibre expansion package and the rollout of 5G across the country. Who knows – gigabit speeds for all Australians may not be too far away, after all!

Are you looking for ultra fast speeds to power your business? Find out if you’re eligible for $0 fibre upgrade built out to your premises with our free address checker. To learn more, call our friendly Australian-based team of experts on 1300 161 625.

*Due to equipment and network limitations the maximum wholesale speed of business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet is 952Mbps. Actual throughput speeds may vary due to many factors including the performance of network equipment not operated by Aussie Broadband. Terms and conditions apply.