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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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The Best Features Of The Aston Martin Vulcan

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Although the Vulcan was specifically designed not to be road legal, one owner decided that they wanted to stick on some license plates and take it on the highway anyway. Except, it was far from that simple, as the conversion process required making some major changes to the car, and cost several hundred thousand dollars on top of the original purchase price (via Motor1). The street conversion was handled by RML Group but had full support from the Aston Martin factory, and after completion, it became the only road-legal Vulcan in existence.

Among the litany of changes required were the addition of windshield wipers, side mirrors, and a central locking system. Michelin road tires were also fitted, and a new set of headlights had to be installed to meet height requirements for British roads. The bladed tail lights were also covered over for safety, and a few of the sharper surface edges around the cabin were smoothed out. Then, the engine was remapped to meet emissions requirements, the suspension was softened, and a lift system was installed to give the car extra clearance for speed bumps. After all that, plus a few final touches, a license plate was fitted and the car was ready to go. Unfortunately, it seems like the owner’s enthusiasm for taking it on the road quickly evaporated, as checking the car’s plates against the British government database shows that its MOT (the annual national roadworthiness test) certificate expired back in January 2022.

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5 Cars Owned By Bob Seger That Prove He Has Great Taste

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Pulling into the final spot on the list is a 1969 Shelby Cobra GT350 Fastback. This particular car is unique for a few reasons. First, it was the last “new original” Shelby that Ford would produce. The GT350 and GT500 released in 1970 weren’t actually new or original but re-VIN’d production cars from the previous year. Also, during the summer of ’69, Carrol Shelby ended his association with Ford (via MustangSpecs).

It had one of Ford’s new 351 Windsor V8 engines with a 470 CFM four-barrel Autolite carburetor under the hood that pounded out 290hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. Its 0 – 60 time was a modest 6.5 seconds, and it did the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds (via MustangSpecs).

According to MustangSpecs, it was typically mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, but Seger’s had a Tremec 6-speed stick instead (via Mecum Auctions). Seger’s Candy Apple Red GT350 had Ford’s upgraded interior package, flaunting a landscape of imitation teak wood covering the dash, steering wheel, door accents, and center console trim (via MustangSpecs).

According to Mecum Auctions, Seger’s was number 42 of 935. When it sold at auction in 2013 for $65,000, it noted that it had been displayed at the Henry Ford Museum at the Rock Stars, Cars & Guitars Exhibit.

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Here’s What Made Volkswagen’s Air-Cooled Engine So Special

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Engines like the Chevy Small Block, Ford 5.0, Chrysler HEMI, and Toyota 2JZ are known for power, torque, and how quickly they can propel a hunk of steel down the drag strip or around the corners of a track. The Volkswagen air-cooled engine is remembered amongst people who have owned one as reliable, easy to maintain, and as numerous as grains of sand on the beach. VW made literally tens of millions of the engine, including over 21 million in just the Beetle (via Autoweek). 

It’s difficult to nail down specific aspects of the engine’s early history as sources tend to disagree on years. But the engine can be traced back to very early Volkswagen models designed with help from Ferdinand Porsche and built in the late-1930s to early 1940s in Nazi Germany. Official sources from Volkswagen are reluctant to acknowledge use of the engine or even the existence of the Beetle prior to the end of World War II.

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