Perth WiMAX: Business or Pleasure?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Unwired Australia will help build and operate the Vivid Wireless Perth network, scheduled to launch in March 2010. DragonWave today announced an exclusive supply agreement with Unwired Australia to supply wireless backhaul for the forthcoming Vivid Wireless Perth network.

Vivid Wireless will use DragonWave’s Horizon Compact for backhaul connectivity of up to 200 Mbps initially. DragonWave’s Horizon Compact backhaul integrates modem and radio in a single unit and will connect about 150 wireless base stations around Perth.

Seven Network Limited, an Australian broadcast company, will build the WiMAX network in Perth via its subsidiary, Vivid Wireless (pdf). Vivid Wireless has 90 to 98MHz spectrum in the 3.2GHz band at its disposal in metropolitan areas, and the company expects the network to offer average download speeds of 4Mbps, while peaks in excess of 20Mbps will be possible. The new company has set aside AUD50 million (USD41.9 million) for the project.

Australian IT explains the relation between Unwired and Seven:

Unwired has been planning a $200m national WiMax network since 2005 and for a period around then things looked good for the company. But after the Rudd government cancelled the billion-dollar Opel project for a bush WiMax network, and a multi-million-dollar legal dispute with Intel put a halt to the company’s plans, Unwired started its descent into obscurity. Seven now plans to rebirth Unwired’s WiMax network via its new Vividwireless vehicle and in one fell swoop will forgo the years of hard work and the millions of dollars spent positioning Unwired as a consumer brand.

The Perth network infrastructure will be constructed by Seven subsidiary Unwired, using base station equipment provided by Chinese vendor Huawei, at approximately 150 base stations around Perth. It is expected that commercial services will be available to the entire Perth metropolitan area at launch, with further expansion expected after the service is introduced.

Unwired Australia, the country’s leading provider of WiMAX solutions, was the first to use Navini’s Smart Beamforming with MIMO antennas to improve performance and range. Navini later adopted the Mobile WiMAX standard and was acquired by Cisco.

With extensive spectrum assets in all mainland capital cities, Unwired operated the Navini-based pre-WiMAX network in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as offering corporate services. But Unwired became a takeover target for TV and telephony service provider Seven Network.

But since Vivid Wireless has 90 to 98MHz spectrum in the 3.2GHz band, it’s still unclear whether the Perth WiMAX network will focus on mobile users or business users (with 3.2GHz point-to-point) connections. Perhaps Seven could also use the network for “wireless cable” services (although that’s just speculation).

UPDATE: Nevermind. I am informed by DailyWireless reader Grant Bartlett, that I am incorrect about Unwired having to use 3.5Ghz spectrum. He says Unwired swapped a portion of their regional 3.5Ghz spectrum to Austar in return for Austar’s 2.3Ghz spectrum in Metro areas. So essentially, Seven/VividWireless now is in prime position: they have access to nearly 100Mhz of 2.3Ghz prime WiMax spectrum and therefore could likely handoff mobile users to adjoining cells.

Meanwhile, Telstra Mobile, Australia’s largest mobile provider, replaced their CDMA network with GSM in 2008. They were the first carrier in the world to launch HSPA+, in late 2008, with Australia-wide access in February 2009 and speeds up to 21Mbit/sec.

Related DailyWireless articles include; Seven Network Plans WiMAX for Perth, Australia Plans Nationwide 100Mbps Fiber Net, WiMAX Roundup, Australia Unwired, Australian Government Kills National WiMAX Plan, Australian WiMAX: A Disagreement, Cisco To Buy Navini?, Arraycomm + Freescale Chips = Beamforming, Arraycomm + Alvarion = Smart Beaming, Go Networks Beamforms Champaign, India Gets Navini Beamforming, Navini Beamforms WiMAX, Metro Beamforming: Wavion & More, 2 Dot 3 Comes to Town, Mobile WiMAX PlugFest, Navini Beamforms Voice, Battle for “4G”, and The Launch.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 8:05 am .

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