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NBN to replace top-tier fixed wireless plan with best-effort service

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(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

The company responsible for rolling out the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia will shake up its fixed wireless plans in mid-2019.

NBN will drop its top-tier 25-50/5-20 Mbps plan by the end of 2019, and replace it with a best-effort plan called Fixed Wireless Plus. The new plan will initially be capable of 60Mbps download and 20Mbps upload speeds, NBN said, and will cost the same for retailers as part of NBN’s AU$45 a month fixed line 50 bundle.

After spectrum is reallocated in 2020 to conform to an ACMA edict on interference management, NBN said the plan will have the potential to deliver 75/10Mbps speeds.

“The new wholesale Fixed Wireless Plus product is designed to reflect user demand with our insights showing people connected to the Fixed Wireless network are using their service with a ratio of 10:1 downloads compared to uploads,” NBN chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb said.

“We acknowledge there are some users are currently experiencing slower speeds than anticipated in the busy hour on the Fixed Wireless network and want to reassure people that we are working hard alongside the industry to improve network capacity.

“With more than 3,000 Fixed Wireless cells upgraded this year, NBN Co’s monthly progress report shows our network capacity program has been successful in reducing the number of cells which fall beneath our busy hour threshold, however, we do expect some fluctuation over the next few months as we scale up our efforts.”

The company said it will be keeping its current 12-25/1-5Mbps fixed wireless tier.

NBN has been toying with fixed wireless plans for some time.

In August, then-incoming NBN CEO Stephen Rue detailed a new wholesale fixed wireless pricing — AU$45 for existing customers and AU$65 for new customers on the 50/20Mbps speed tier — during a joint standing committee hearing; however, after backlash the company retreated.

A year earlier, NBN had flagged creating a 100/40Mbps fixed wireless tier, but it too was unceremoniously dumped.

Former NBN CEO Bill Morrow told Senate Estimates in May there was no economic case for it.

“We killed it,” Morrow said.

According to the CEO, while expanding capacity on fixed lines is a linear cost, the cost is exponential on fixed-wireless.

“A certain point in time starts to double, starts to quadruple,” he said.

“The idea of adding a 100Mbps service actually means driving even more capacity requirement into the network, and the economics again … this is a cost-leading effort.

“It starts to actually break apart to where it doesn’t make any sense.”

Under questioning of how much it will cost to offer a stable 100Mbps service, without putting a dollar figure on it beyond being in the billions, Morrow said the cost would be outrageous.

“You would be blown away at the cost, it just would never happen,” Morrow said.

“It’s cost-prohibitive … you would not use that technology for that.”

In October, NBN revealed that more than 1,500 fixed-wireless cells had at least one service downloading more than 1TB of data during the month of May.

Despite this, NBN also said it had forecast to have less than 1.4 percent of fixed-wireless users on the dumped 100/40Mbps speed tier by 2022.

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Around 17,500 Sky Muster satellite users have no 3G coverage, and that’s before obstructions that could also limit mobile coverage are taking into account.

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Hertz massive Tesla Model 3 EV order sends interest rocketing

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Hertz today made a whopper of an announcement, revealing that it will be ordering 100,000 Teslas over the next year and adding those EVs to its fleet. Not only that, but Hertz will also install several thousand chargers at its network of locations around the US and Europe. With this move, Hertz says that it will “offer the largest EV rental fleet in North America and one of the largest in the world.”

Specifically, Hertz said today that it would purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3s and those cars will start being available at airport and neighborhood locations across the US and Europe in November. At first, Hertz says its EV fleet will only be available in major markets within the US and “select cities” in Europe, but it seems the company is looking to expand availability rather quickly.

By the end of 2022, Hertz says it plans to have these Tesla Model 3s available in 65 markets, expanding further to 100 markets by the end of 2023. In all, Hertz plans to install 3,000 Tesla superchargers at various locations in the US and Europe as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this announcement sent Tesla’s stock on something of a surge this morning, but even more important is the impact this could have on the public perception of electric vehicles.

Hertz says that EVs will comprise more than 20% of its global rental fleet when the order is complete. In addition to placing this order, Hertz has also hired NFL star Tom Brady for an ad campaign centered around renting, driving, and charging these Tesla Model 3s. On Hertz’s website, we see that charging will be included in EV rentals, but only for a limited time. Beyond February 1st, 2022, it sounds like renters will have to foot the bill for charging.

It’s an ambitious plan, but in today’s announcement, Hertz cautions that the order of 100,000 Tesla Model 3s may be impacted by factors outside of its control. Specifically, the company is talking about the global semiconductor shortage, which could impact the production of computing hardware for some time to come. In any case, look for the option to rent a Tesla Model 3 to start popping up at Hertz locations next month.

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Bently Mulliner to unveil new bespoke collections at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

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Bentley Mulliner has curated three new bespoke design collections for its American clientele. The Mulliner Nauticus Collection will debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this October 27 to 31, 2021. The Nauticus Collection includes four Continental GT V8 Convertible models dressed in a fancy yachting theme.

The Continental GT Nauticus Collection has Aegean Blue and Ghost White paint with custom 22-inch Aegean Blue polished wheels. Wearing Bentley Mulliner’s carbon fiber Styling Specification, each Nauticus Bentley also gets a carbon front splitter, side skirts, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. Also, the interior is resplendent in Brunel, Linen, and Portland leather in bespoke color splits, while the center console is home to open-pore chevron light veneers.

“This timeless classic further highlights the infinite possibilities and abilities in which to blend art and technology into a unique emotion and experience,” said Peter Brandt, Holmann Automotive Vice President and General Manager of Bentley Fort Lauderdale. “The individuality and distinctiveness of the Mulliner design aesthetics perfectly align with our pursuit of creating unique customer experiences.”

Meanwhile, Bentley of Manhattan commissioned the Mulliner Skyline Collection for the Flying Spur, Continental GT Convertible, and Bentayga luxury SUV. As expected, the Skyline Collection draws inspiration from the breathtaking skyscrapers of the Big Apple.

All members of the Mulliner Skyline Collection will wear a unique Onyx black paint applied by hand and robots, said Bentley. Other noteworthy features include 22-inch black and silver alloy wheels, darker exterior trim, LED welcome lighting, and premium silver interior trim.

Last but not least is the Mulliner Miami Collection, inspired by Miami’s colorful lifeguard stations and pulsating art scene. The collection includes the Flying Spur, Bentayga, and Continental GT finished in bright Orange, Blue, and Lime Green paint. Inside, Bentley’s Miami Collection gets two-tone painted piano veneers, Klein Blue leather upholstery, and bespoke quilting, among many others.

“Our dealers are very involved in each of their local markets and communities with appreciation to maximize the ability to promote Bentley’s craftsmanship,” said Mike Rocco, Vice President of Sales & Operations for Bentley Americas. “The opportunity to expand inventory offering to customers and present a truly unique experience through the Personal Commissioning Guide is remarkable.”

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Vazirani Ekonk is possibly the world’s lightest electric car

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Indian electric automaker Vazirani is not as mainstream as Tesla and other legacy EV makers, but what will soon change with the launch of Ekonk performance EV. The Ekonk is a low-drag performance concept that signifies the birth of Vazirani’s assault in the burgeoning EV category. The name ‘Ekonk’ is a derivative from Indian scriptures representing the divine light, “where for the first time design and innovation comes together,” said the company.

From the looks of it, the Ekonk is a dedicated performance contender, and it’s doing it the old school way: By shedding weight. Vazirani claims Ekonk is the world’s lightest electric car, and losing pounds in an EV is hard to do without losing a wheel or two. Tipping the scales at around 1627 pounds (738kg), the Ekonk is almost as lightweight as other three-wheeled EVs like the Arcimoto (590 kg) and Daymak Spiritus (620 kg).

In addition, Ekonk is lighter than the Aptera solar EV (816 kg), and it has four wheels instead of three, so Vazirani may be up to something here. How did they do it? “Biomimicry – studying how animals and humans use breathing to regulate their body temperatures – combined with some ancient Indian manufacturing techniques resulted in the invention of the DiCo technology,” said Chunky Vazirani, CEO of Vazirani.

Vazirani’s proprietary DiCo battery cooling technology “allows the batteries to cool directly with the air, as opposed to needing liquid cooling,” adds Vazirani. The carmaker adds DiCo is the first solid-state direct cooling system that utilizes nanoparticle technology to enhance the range and performance of any EV.

The automaker did not mention the battery capacity, but it did say Ekonk can rush to 60 mph from a dead stop in 2.5-seconds and has a top speed of 192 mph. Also, we have no idea how many motors are hiding underneath Ekonk’s aerodynamically optimized body shell, but Vazirani claims 722 horsepower and mountains of torque.

Additionally, Ekonk is a proper driver’s car. Vazirani said Ekonk has no driver aids, with just the electric motors and the wheels separating the driver from the road. It’s not a bad-looking thing, either, but the absence of a fixed or foldable roof means this car is a genuine track toy. If you don’t like a speedster, Vazirani also has the Shul hyper EV (with two doors and a roof) with the same DiCo battery cooling technology.

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