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‘The NBN project has failed’: Huawei executive scathing of $51b spend

The comments come amid an aggressive global push-back from the Chinese telecommunications equipment behemoth, which was banned from participating in the roll out of Australia’s high-speed 5G mobile networks in 2018 by the Turnbull government on security grounds.

Huawei executives have since accused the Australian government of leaving telcos with mediocre technology and has criticised the US government for “bullying” after it was hit by trade restrictions last month.

To be quite frank, as a starting point it makes no sense for Australia to continue to exclude the world’s leading 5G technology provider from the marketplace.

Huawei’s David Soldani

Mr Soldani has now slammed the NBN’s fixed wireless network that has cost about $4 billion.

“The incredible truth of the matter – and this takes some believing – is that in hundreds of cell sites across the country the NBN fixed wireless network is now delivering only around 6Mbps to each end-user premises at peak-time,” he said.

Without any further significant investment in the NBN, he said there needed to be “new ways” of solving these parts of the network such as using 5G fixed wireless.

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“To be quite frank, as a starting point it makes no sense for Australia to continue to exclude the world’s leading 5G technology provider from the marketplace – especially when we have a proven track record of delivering the kind of quality services that Australians so badly need,” he said.

Mr Soldani is scheduled to speak at a 5G Business Summit on Tuesday morning where he will further criticise the NBN Co and its technology partners. Huawei was blocked from providing its equipment for the NBN roll out by the Gillard government in 2012.

“The most extraordinary part of the NBN Co fixed wireless debacle has been the fact that the sole vendor responsible for the project has been able to escape scrutiny for its role in mishandling the deployment,” he will say.

“Indeed, rather than the federal government ask serious questions about how they may be culpable for what has gone wrong with NBN fixed wireless they have actually delivered them an even bigger role in delivering our crucial 5G infrastructure by excluding Huawei from the 5G market.”

The NBN Co’s major technology partner for the roll out is Swedish firm Ericsson, a competitor to Huawei and a growing player in Australia’s 5G roll out including as a provider for Telstra.

An NBN Co spokeswoman said the network was committed to “continuously improving the service provided as internet demand and data needs evolve” including a recent $800 million investment into customer service on the fixed wireless network.

“Our upgrades have already begun to show signs of this improvement and while around three quarters of regional Australia is serviced by fixed line broadband technologies, we will keep working to further improve the fixed wireless network in the coming months and in to the future, as we continue with our planned upgrade activity,” she said.

She said that 9.6 million homes and businesses were now connected to the network with 62 per cent of those cusomters choosing speed plans of 50Mbps or more.

A spokeswoman for Ericsson said the company would not comment “on unsubstantiated claims by competitors, who are currently facing business challenges in the Australian market”.

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