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Australia’s 20 biggest cities could be covered by a A$500 million ($467 million U.S.) commercial-grade mobile WiMax network within two years, reports Computer World.

Joe Nardone, Intel’s global general manager of WiMax business development, told Computerworld that pre-WiMAX operator Unwired has mapped out plans for a national mobile WiMax network. Intel is an investor in Unwired.

Unwired will move to Mobile WiMax, so mobility will be inherent, unlike their current Navini-based system.

A Sydney broadband wireless competitor, Personal Broadband, uses Arraycomm’s iBurst, another pre-WiMAX technology. iBurst optimizes the use of its bandwidth with the help of smart antennas for beam forming. Kyocera is the leading manufacturer of iBurst devices.

Seven Networks, an Australian television network, has purchased Unwired, the Navini (now Cisco) based network for $127 million.

Their WiMax network will help the Seven deliver broadband, voice over Internet Protocol and even television throughout Australia.

Computer World reports that telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said the Seven Network’s plan will result in a failed overbuild of technology. “I have looked at this from 15,000 angles and the idea simply can’t work,” Budde said.

The mobile WiMax network will not be able to compete with Telstra’s established cellular network, according to Budde. Telstra, formerly a state-owned company, is Australia’s largest provider of both local and long distance telephone services, mobile services, dialup, wireless, DSL and cable internet access.

Unwired will have a tough time recouping ROI as competition from Optus and Vodafone Group PLC’s 3G networks drives down access prices, Budde said.

Last month the Australian government canceled a A$958 million ($871 million) funding agreement with SingTel and Futuris for an broadband wireless network, claiming noncompliance with the original agreement.

Optus Networks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Telecom, and Futuris, its venture partner in OPEL Networks, was originally awarded the project.

The funding was rescinded because the project would cover only 72 percent of the required region, instead of the 90 percent outlined in the contract, the Department of Broadband Communications and Digital Economy said in a statement. The OPEL access network, which was to be wholesaled to other telcos and Internet service providers, will now not be built,” the Optus statement said.

Optus, Australia’s 2nd largest communication company, has brought competition to Australia’s Telstra since the late 1980s.

Telstra claims that Optus WiMAX wrong-headedly duplicates Telstra’s 3G network with an incompatible WiMAX network and is unfairly subsidized by taxpayers. Optus says it provides competition and services that monopolist Telstra doesn’t.

In other WiMAX news — and there’s a lot of it . . .

WiMax hopefuls in the U.K. may find themselves shut out of the 2.6 GHz auction by the Office of Communications, says Unstrung. Five mobile operators are potentially bidding to hoard WiMax spectrum. Ofcom will auction 2010-2025 MHz and 2500-2690 MHz bands (known as 2.6 GHz) on a technology and service neutral basis.

Ofcom will auction the frequencies in the summer of 2008. Ofcom has allocated a certain amount of licensed spectrum for time division duplex (TDD), or unpaired spectrum, and a certain amount FDD, or paired spectrum. Analysts and WiMax players expect the U.K.’s mobile operators to buy up the TDD spectrum to keep out new Mobile WiMax competitors.

Meanwhile, in the UK, businesses using British Telcom’s Business service can now turn their BT Business Hub into a BT Openzone wireless hotspot at no cost. This will allow anyone visiting their premises to log on to a separate secure internet channel. When a new version of the BT business hub comes out in July, it will come with the hotspot feature built in.

There are already 2,500 BT Openzone Premier hotspots at hotels, airports, railroad stations and other sites, plus hotspots covering the centers of 12 cities in the UK. There are also some 70,000 BT consumers have joined the BT FON Wi-Fi community, BT said.

The 2.5 GHz spectrum profile is considered to be the “sweet spot” for many of the world’s initial deployments for mobile WiMAX, including Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.

In the last two months of 2007, New Zealand, Japan and Noraway held sold licenses in the 2.3 – 2.7 Ghz range. Norway raised US$ 42 million with licenses to five companies, Sweden sold licenses in the 3.6 – 3.8 Ghz frequency range to 44 companies and raised US$ 703,000. More details can also be found at www.ClearSpectrum.Net.

Clearwire has the largest number of [pre-WiMAX] subscribers, numbering about 394,000 as of the fourth quarter of 2007. Korea Telecom and Unwired Australia have the next biggest numbers, with about 100,000 and 76,000 subscribers respectively.

Alcatel-Lucent is participating in more than 70 trials and deployments of WiMax technology around the worldx, from Brazil to Malaysia to the Netherlands, said Michael Seymour, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent’s North American broadband wireless unit at the Wireless Communications Association held in Washington DC this week.

Rick Svensson, director of sales for Samsung’s WiMax unit, said his company is “very anxious” to show off the technology in 2008. It plans to release a WiMax-enabled version of its Q1 ultramobile PC later this year and to offer support for Sprint Nextel’s planned launch of its Xohm WiMax network sometime in 2008.

Clearwire completed the first phase of Mobile WiMAX testing, involving 15 square miles in Washington County just west of Portland, in April, 2007. Then it focused on a beta network covering 145 square miles, most of Washington County.

When Clearwire’s Mobile WiMAX service launches in the summer of 2008, it should cover some 700 square miles, incorporating 3-4 ajoining counties (above).

Clearwire CTO John Saw says backhaul of WiMAX networks require 30-60 Mbps per site with blanket coverage of the entire 700 sq mile Portland region requiring WiMAX nodes installed on some 80 cell sites. Nortel is supplying VoIP infrastructure and services for Clearwire using their Application Server 5200 to deliver SIP applications.

Barry West, the CTO of Sprint’s Xohm business took the WiMAX critics head-on at the WCA, particularly companies that have adopted LTE as their next-generation technology. Noting that LTE services are years away, West accused the LTE camp of “not having anything to offer”, which is why “they’re trashing the system that’s out there working.” West also noted that WiMAX has “19 companies offering chipsets, 28 companies offering devices, and 29 companies offering infrastructure.” Whether Sprint and Clearwire will team with the nation’s two largest cable providers — Comcast and Time Warner Cable — remains to be seen. Pivot didn’t do so well.

Tony Melone, CTO of Verizon Wireless told Dan Jones of Unstrung [with a straight face] that they’ll begin deploying LTE in 2009 (video).

Perhaps the biggest hang-up for Mobile WiMAX is getting different base stations and subscriber devices to talk to each other. Roaming devices that aren’t certified by the WiMAX Forum won’t cut it — and certification of the first 2.5 GHz Mobile clients appears imminent.

Only then can a United States rollout begin in earnest.

One of the first mobile WiMAX devices will be a Nokia N810 WIMAX Tablet for $455 at Buy.com.

DailyWireless has more on the Australian Blowup, Death of the Nationalized WiMAX Plan, BT’s European WiMAX Plan, Backhaul Delays Xohm Rollout, Hesse on WiMAX, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout?, Xohm “Partners”?, Death to WiMAX?, Verizon: It’s LTE, WiMAX/Sprint Rumors, Sprint-Clearwire Deal Dead, Sprint Considering WiMAX Spinoff?, Sprint Forces Forsee Out, WiMAX Demoed on Chicago River, The Launch, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Google Apps for Clearwire, T-Mobile: $10B in 3 Years, Sprint WiMAX: It’s Called “Xohm” and Clearwire & Sprint Agree on WiMAX Roaming.

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