Internet connections for your guest wifi systems: more options. The sky’s the limit for connectivity

With close to 90 percent of homes and businesses across Australia now connected to the nbn, it may be time to look at what else is on offer to run your guest wifi system.
It was an exciting time when in 2017 the nbn started to heavily roll out its services around Australia.
Most of our customers around Australia are now connected in one way or another to the nbn to run their guest wifi systems. Whether it is Fibre to the Node (FTTN), Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), Fibre to the Building (FTTB), Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC), Fixed Wireless or nbn satellite services, most are connected.
However, we still have a few struggling along with ADSL connections or very slow nbn connections as the nbn offering
to their location is substandard, particularly remote areas. This is proving very frustrating to them and their guests wanting to access fast and reliable wifi when staying with them and there hasn’t been any real solution until now. We’ve also had to run guest wifi systems at some sites on multiple nbn connections to ensure that there is enough bandwidth to go around to service the load.
One site has six nbn 100/40Mbps connections!
Most of these nbn connections are using the old Telstra copper cable that is susceptible to faults and attenuation which impact the actual throughput speed and reliability of the service. nbn is also a contended service (slows down
during busy times) as it is shared by other users on the copper, so it can get congested from time to time affecting available bandwidth. The knock-on affect is slow wifi and complaining guests.
Fibre connections have always been available in some areas, however, the nbn was charging the end user, you, to run the Fibre from the node to the complex and the costs to do so were extremely cost prohibitive, particularly in regional areas.
The exciting news is there are two new internet offerings. One available now, nbn Fibre and one not too far off, SpaceX’s Starlink.

Let’s start with nbn Fibre. The nbn has launched the nbn Business Fibre Initiative. Basically, it is nbn Fibre which was typically only available in capital city centres.
You no longer have to pay for the laying of the Fibre from the node to your complex, the nbn are allowing Internet Service Providers to do this and the nbn absorb the cost.
This means that regional areas can now increase their capacity at metropolitan prices. nbn has created up to 240 nbn Business Fibre Zones nationally which includes 85 regional centres.
With wifi becoming as important as running water and electricity to guests, and guests relying on wifi to work at your complex or home school if required, the demands for fast and reliable wifi are increasing.
Fibre is reliable and scalable, and it is easy to increase speeds/bandwidth as required. It is also uncontended, so you get what you pay for. Fast and reliable internet! More bang for your buck!

SpaceX’s Starlink
I think most of you would have heard of Elon Musk. If you haven’t he is the early stage investor, CEO, and Product architect of Tesla and the founder, CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX.
SpaceX is leveraging its experience in building rockets and space craft to deploy the world’s most advanced high-speed, low latency broadband internet system, called Starlink.
This is a game changer, particularly for remote and regional areas that rely on nbn Satellite or nbn Fixed Wireless services for the internet connections. Both have their limitations and can be problematic with speed and data caps.
Starlink are hoping to have near global coverage of the populated world by the end of 2021, beginning of 2022. There
are country regulatory approvals required, so hopefully Australia will be quick to approve.
It is currently running in beta in eleven countries and if you have been one of the lucky beta testers, you can see speeds from 50Mbps to 150Mbps and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations.
Latency is the time it takes to send data from one point to the next.
Being beta, it is still a patchy service due to more satellites needing to be deployed but as they deploy more satellites and set up more ground stations, these speeds will improve dramatically, and the service will become more robust. Currently there are 1,800 satellites.
I am in a Starlink forum, and some US users are getting up to 250Mbps in areas that they have had no internet service previously!
You can sign up for this service now; however, there is a waiting list. They take a small deposit upon signing up. When the service is available to your site, you purchase a Starlink kit ($809 AUS) which comprises of a user dish terminal nicknamed “Dishy McFlatface”, a wifi router, power supply, cables and mounting tripod; everything you need to get online. You need a clear view of the sky to connect.
Unlimited monthly data plans are $139.
Very reasonable considering most 100/40Mbps nbn plans with unlimited data are a $100 to $150 per month.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I have a complex that has a very slow nbn connection. nbn has confirmed that this site will never get above 25Mbps due to where they are located and the node they are
connected to. This makes a fast and reliable guest wifi system very difficult for this complex. Starlink will be the perfect solution for them and I have encouraged them to get on the waiting list.
The neighbouring complex to them, where we also have our guest wifi system, can easily get 100/40Mbps because they connect to a different node!
Give your guests what they want – fast, reliable wifi.

Guest Wifi Summary: The year it was

2019 has seen the goalposts move in regards to what guests are requiring when they travel for work and leisure.
Guest wifi can be the showstopper to someone staying with you, or not. It is a utility and a must have.

Data amounts that guests are going through have increased dramatically and speed and good signal strength are key requirements.
People want to do what they do at home while they are on holidays or travelling for work. They want to watch their own subscriptions of Netflix, Stan, Kayo, Foxtel, etc or listen to their subscription music through Spotify.
Guests want fast, free wifi with unlimited data with the ability to be able to cast and stream their own content, easily and everywhere.
Statistica.com recently published figures regarding Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) in Australia.
• Number of Netflix subscriptions 2017 – 2.7 million
• Number of Netflix subscriptions 2020 – 3.3 million
These figures are staggering.
Statistica.com say: “Streaming services of all types are becoming the most popular and influential platforms in the world. It almost seems like television shows and DVDs are becoming less important and are going to be replaced by video streaming services in the future.
“Video streaming is a type of media streaming in which a selected video program is continuously delivered via the internet to a remote user. Thus, the video can be watched online without the need to be downloaded on a computer or any other device. Australia is ranked number six in terms of video streaming penetration rate after the United State, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland.”
On demand services will increase and you need to ensure your guest wifi system is scalable to meet the guest demands.
Some questions to ask your provider or to ensure when selecting a guest wifi provider are:
• Can you add additional NBN connections to your backbone to increase bandwidth as required?
• Does each unit have their own secure network within the unit to ensure secure casting?
Don’t spend money on systems that won’t give you this functionality.
This leads me to casting. Casting gives guests the ability to cast their own content from their own SVoD service and their own device (smartphone, tablet, etc) to your smart TV and stream. Or they can plug in their Google Chromecast, Apple TV or gaming device and stream it on the unit’s TV. Casting is one of the top three sought after features a guest wants and is a core feature that must be included in your guest wifi system.
Guests want to bring their own streaming subscriptions; they don’t want to have to enter their account details on your TV.
Important: For guests to be able to cast, you must ensure that your guest wifi system can isolate the devices on the network to each specific unit so only guests in that unit can cast to that units TV. You do not want someone in another unit being able to cast unwanted/undesirable shows onto a guest’s TV in a different unit!

Earlier in 2019 I touched on 5G and what it would mean to wifi. Why do you still need to provide wifi to guests if this new super-fast technology will be available to everyone?
The key points to remember about 5G are that the signal range shortens from kilometres to hundreds of metres, requiring transmission towers to be closer together. The higher frequencies used in 5G applications have difficulty penetrating solid objects such as buildings, walls and windows. 5G signal is more easily blocked by obstacles. Without transmission towers close together the signal penetration into buildings will be poor, often requiring receivers on the outside of buildings cabled to access points inside the buildings and on every floor or every unit, particularly if your doors and walls are fire rated.
5G could be an NBN alternative but is unlikely to replace other broadband plans and options. It will offer faster speeds for mobile phones, tablets and other devices such as Internet of Things (IOT) devices. Although it may offer faster speeds than NBN, the coverage will be limited in comparison due to network infrastructure required and shorter signal range.
You still need the wifi equipment inside the complex and a management system to offer secure, unlimited data with the best signal coverage and fastest speeds available to your guests.
Happy guests are returning guests.
Give them great wifi signal and fast internet and you will have very happy guests.
Have a great summer holiday season.