Vividwireless looks to increase coverage

Vividwireless is planning to expand its east coast mobile broadband services in the next 18 months, via either its existing WiMax technology or Time Division Duplex Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology, the company revealed today.

Vividwireless is planning to expand its east coast mobile broadband services in the next 18 months, via either its existing WiMax technology or Time Division Duplex Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology, the company revealed today.

Martin Mercer

Vividwireless CEO Martin Mercer (Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

The Seven Network-owned internet service provider announced its plans to go national in February last year, and rolled out WiMax services in Perth in March. Small areas of Sydney and Melbourne were switched on later in the year. A trial of the technology in Sydney achieved downlink speeds of 14Mbps.

Now the company wants to expand its coverage on the east coast and has been looking at improving its achievable speeds using a different technology — TD-LTE.

Martin Mercer, CEO of vividwireless, told journalists in Sydney today that the company has been conducting a trial of the technology with Chinese network technology company Huawei over the last two months and that it had achieved "pleasant results". Mercer said the trials reached peak download speeds of 128 megabits per second. In the test conducted between Zetland and Eveleigh in Sydney today using the company's 2300MHz spectrum, the network achieved download speeds of 90Mbps. Mercer said the average consumer could expect to have downlink speeds of between 40 and 70Mbps, and uplink speeds of between 4 and 7Mbps.

"You can expect to download the great Australian movie Animal Kingdom in about three minutes. You could download Kanye West's latest album in about 18 seconds," he said. "This brings true high-speed broadband to every Australian no matter where they are. You don't need a fibre connection to the home to get those sorts of speeds."

Mercer said the company would need to secure funding for the project in the next few months, and from there it would need 12 months to roll-out the network. Mercer said the company expects to initially install 240 base stations in Sydney; however, this is expected to be expanded to 340 by the time the roll-out is completed. Melbourne and Brisbane infrastructure will be rolled out at the same time.

Eventually, the company aims to cover 60 per cent of the Australian population and approximately 90 per cent of the population in each Australian capital city.

If the company decides to proceed with TD-LTE technology in its east coast roll-out, Mercer said the prices would be cheaper than the basic packages offered on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

"If you think about what the NBN has been quoted as being their wholesale entry price for their basic package, our retail price for a service on TD-LTE for example delivering 40Mbps into the home will be a superior price to the wholesale price for a 12Mbps service on the NBN," he said, but clarified that he didn't see the NBN as a competitor.

"We look at our primary opportunity as being portable internet. We don't look at ourselves as being in competition with the NBN except perhaps at the margins," he said. "People have a growing demand for having high-speed internet wherever they are. The NBN doesn't service that market, we service that market."

"We see ourselves as very complementary to the NBN. In the future, people's primary connection is going to be a wireless connection because they will want internet wherever they are.

Although Mercer said the company was not too worried about whether its spectrum licence would be renewed when it expires in the next few years, he said scarcity of spectrum would no doubt raise the cost to renew it.

"I'm not concerned about [whether our] licence will be renewed, the right question is: what's the price premium, which is an issue for the whole industry to come to grips with," he said.

Mercer said based on global trends, he expected the renewal price to be well within the company's business case costings for the national roll-out.