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Turnbull: Claims that 5G will replace NBN are 'probably overstated'

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the threat of 5G to the National Broadband Network (NBN) is likely overblown, as fixed-line broadband users are downloading such large volumes of data.

"Is there a threat from wireless services including 5G? Yes, there is at the margin," Turnbull said during an interview on 3AW on Thursday.

"But the amount of bandwidth that people are using, principally for video streaming, is so enormous and growing so fast, I think the ability of wireless networks to take over is probably overstated.

"But time will tell."

While the industry debates whether 5G will replace or complement the NBN[1], the broadband company's outgoing CEO Bill Morrow[2] earlier this week ruled out[3] the possibility of NBN providing 5G services after the company revealed it would be undertaking 5G trials[4] this week in Melbourne with Ericsson.

"It's not an interest of NBN; our plate is full at the moment, and we have a clear remit to get this thing built by 2020, on time and on budget," Morrow told Senate Estimates on Tuesday.

"Right now I would rule it out, unless the government came back and asked us to provide something else."

NBN CTO Ray Owen had earlier discussed "claims made about how 5G will impact the fixed broadband market", but, like the prime minister, pointed to the data amounts being downloaded over fixed-line networks.

"We know that 5G will enable much faster speeds than 4G, but at NBN we also know better than anyone about how much data end users are consuming, and some of the challenges on putting that data capacity onto fixed-wireless network," Owen said.

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