NBN Co selects fixed wireless network partner for mid-2012 service start


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NBN Co today announced that it plans to complete the rollout of its superfast fixed-wireless broadband network covering Australians in rural and regional areas by 2015, with the first services to be available from the middle of next year.


The 10-year contract with Ericsson is worth up to $1.1 billion to design, build and operate a 4G fixed-wireless network to serve those Australians who can't access other NBN high-speed broadband services.

The fixed-wireless network and NBN Co's long-term satellite service are designed to offer speeds of 12Mbps* to retail service providers to offer to people living in approximately seven per cent of premises not covered by fibre.

Design of the fixed-wireless network has already started. The exact locations to be covered in the initial rollout will be announced in the coming months following the completion of detailed network planning and consultation with local communities.

NBN Co Head of Corporate Services, Kevin Brown said: "It's only right that those parts of the country with some of the poorest access to high-speed broadband should be among the first to receive the National Broadband Network either via satellite or the fixed-wireless solution we are announcing today.

"Those receiving our fixed-wireless service will benefit from the latest 4G fixed-wireless technology, LTE. While wireless spectrum is shared between users, unlike a mobile network, fixed-wireless will allow us to plan a network for a more predictable number of users in a given area. This gives us greater consistency in the speed and quality of service the NBN Co network will provide to each user."

Sam Saba, head of Ericsson in Australia, said: "As the leading 4G technology, LTE has global momentum and its ecosystem is expanding rapidly. Thanks to our services, network offering and support for the widest range of bandwidths and frequency spectrums, we are able to facilitate the efficient delivery of LTE-based broadband services to communities that are usually disadvantaged because of their remote location."

NBN Co has initially entered into a turnkey arrangement for at least 12 months to enable a fast start to construction and delivery. Over time NBN Co intends to assume greater responsibility for construction and operation of this world-leading infrastructure.

Mr Brown said: "Our partnership with Ericsson provides necessary expertise from a global leading vendor who has established experience in the rapid deployment of leading-edge wireless infrastructure in Australia. Ericsson complements our existing relationships with key technology partners who are leaders in their respective fields including IBM, Nokia Siemens, Alcatel Lucent and Accenture.

"The mix of technologies we are deploying allows us to offer the most cost-effective rollout of high-speed broadband across our large and sparsely populated continent," Mr Brown said.

NBN Co announced in February that it had acquired wireless spectrum from AUSTAR that is sufficient to meet most of its needs for the fixed-wireless services. Spectrum has still to be acquired for WA and the Northern Territory, however the Australian Communications and Media Authority has initiated a public process for the allocation of spectrum in these locations that would be suitable for fixed-wireless services.

NBN Co plans to offer its retail service providers wholesale broadband services designed for 12/1 megabits per second (Mbps)* at a uniform national wholesale access price of $24 a month across all three broadband technologies.

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