Sydney to get business WiMax network

Computerworld Today (Australia) |  Mobile & Wireless

Wireless broadband carrier Access Providers has announced it will build a WiMax-based network in Sydney early next year with exclusive focus on business customers.

Deployment of the new network is scheduled to start in February 2006, and Access Providers expects to be connecting customers by June next year. The company claims this will be the first WiMax network to be built in Australia based on the fixed WiMax standard, 802.16-2004, ratified by the IEEE last year.

Access Providers' CEO, Keith Ondarchie, said the network will be "fixed WiMax" meaning a receiver is installed at the business premises serving as the uplink for the company LAN. This is unlike mobile WiMax carrier Unwired which is aiming for the "mass market residential" space.

"Telstra is becoming more aggressive in protecting its network [but] wireless options make a significant change," Ondarchie said, adding he believes most businesses don't care if their data service is wired or wireless so long as it's good quality and reliable.

Ondarchie said Access Providers will offer up to 10Mbps of symmetrical bandwidth to the premises and the company's experience in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide, indicates customers will switch from DSL to a wireless service.

Access Providers will hang off Optus' fiber network for backhaul from every base station, and Ondarchie played down the prospect of a voice over WiMax telephony service "until we know" whether it can provide the same quality of service that people expect from a landline.

That said, he believes as VOIP becomes more common, "people won't recognize the difference" between a wired and wireless link.

"We're trying to change to a model where the value is in the connection and not the usage," he said. "A good quality network like ours has value."

The WiMax network of 11 base stations in the Sydney metropolitan region will be funded by internal cash reserves, according to the company.

A spokesperson for Unwired welcomed Access Providers' plans and said the entry of another wireless broadband provider into the Sydney market is a direct response to the increasing demand from businesses for a portable or mobile Internet service.

"WiMax will soon be the global standard and will fundamentally change the way people access the Internet; data, like voice, is moving towards mobility," the spokesperson said. "The latest WiMax standard - 802.16e will be ratified shortly and will deliver this mobility to Internet users."

Unwired will begin receiving equipment upgradeable to the 802.16e standard in 2006.

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