Digging for the NBN? Huawei's CEO says wireless is so much cheaper

Huawei’s vision of wireless home broadband . (Image: Tony Yoo, Business Insider)

TOKYO — Australia is busy rolling fibre out to the streets to build its national broadband network. But the tech company that was shut out of that process reckons there’s a cheaper way to get there.

Huawei chief executive Ken Hu, at his company’s Mobile Broadband Forum in Tokyo, said that wireless broadband could meet the needs of people that are underserved at a much lower price.

He includes in that group more than 1.3 billion households in the world that do not have broadband access, as well as more than 300 million that need more speed — defined as those that have connections slower than 10Mbps, which applies to the majority of Australians that aren’t on the NBN yet.

The Chinese tech giant calls wireless broadband to the home WTTx — “wireless-to-the-x”, comparable to FTTx, “fibre-to-the-x” — and Hu said the time to pay off the infrastructure cost is so much shorter than laying down cables.

“The payback period for WTTx is really satisfying. It’s just around two years, which is much shorter than the eight years for a fixed-line broadband investment.”

In Australia, both Labor and coalition federal governments prohibited Huawei from supplying the NBN, citing espionage concerns. Meanwhile, the NBN was due to run out of funds this year to finish the massive project, with the government only coming to the rescue last week with a $19.5 billion loan.

The United States has also banned Huawei from bidding for government contracts out of the same fears, although the Chinese firm denies that it eavesdrops on behalf of Beijing.

The journalist travelled to the Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Tokyo as a guest of Huawei.

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