Seven to build $50m Perth WiMax network

Seven Network Limited has unveiled plans to build a WiMax-based 4G network in Perth via its new subsidiary, Vivid Wireless, by March 2010.

Seven Network Limited has unveiled plans to build a WiMax-based 4G network in Perth via its new subsidiary, Vivid Wireless, by March 2010.

The network will be built by fellow Seven subsidiary, Unwired, using Huawei equipment at around 150 base stations around Perth, according to Vivid Wireless' newly appointed chief executive officer, Martin Mercer.

The former Telstra executive told that the new 4G service would be available to the entire Perth metropolitan area, including Rockingham from March. A team of around 50 were on the ground in Perth building the network. The same amount will be required to operate it once completed, said Mercer.

The company has claimed the new network will deliver speeds up to 10 times faster than available 3G networks: average speeds would be around 4Mbps, with peak speeds greater than 20Mbps, it said in a statement.

Mercer would not divulge pricing details of the broadband packages it intends to offer, but said they would be competitive with fixed line services and "considerably cheaper than existing wireless broadband services".

The $50 million allocated to the trial included working capital to get to a financial break-even point. Mercer would not divulge plans of the next metro area it planned to target.

Seven's hefty spectrum allocation gave it a major advantage over competitors such as Optus, Vodafone and Telstra, according to Mercer, which he said faced bandwidth constraints on existing 3G and HSPA infrastructure.

"Until the free-to-air broadcasters release their spectrum, and even then, with all that spectrum, the other wireless operators still won't be able to assemble the same block of spectrum we have at the moment," he said.

Telstra is known to be keen on 700MHz or 2.6GHz spectrum as ideal bandwidths for its LTE 4G plans, which cannot happen until at least 2013 under the Federal Government's current digital TV switch-over plan. Vivid Wireless has at its disposal in metropolitan areas 90 to 98MHz spectrum in the 3.2GHz band, said Mercer.

Unwired, which provides 2.5G wireless services in Melbourne and Sydney, would increasingly focus on designing, building and operating wireless networks, while Vision would focus on running 4G operations, said Mercer.

Executive chairman of Seven, Kerry Stokes, said in a statement: "We believe in 4G, as it provides an infrastructure and the ability to deliver new and competing telecommunications, data and content services to all Australians."


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