WiMax Forum supports Australia’s big broadband rollout

Not-for-profit industry group, the WiMax Forum, has thrown its full support behind the federal government’s A$1.9 billion (US$1.6 billion) Australia Connected infrastructure initiative to roll-out ADSL 2+ and WiMAX to 99 percent of Australia by 2009.

Announced by ICT Minister, Senator Coonan this week, the forum has issued a statement backing the initiative because it is predicated on a new national high speed wholesale network which will utilize WiMax technology.

According to the statement: “The inclusion of WiMax in the successful bid will allow rural and remote Australians to benefit from the latest development in M-Gov, M-life, M-learning and next generation broadband wireless products and solutions.

“With a 10 MHz channel bandwidth, WiMax users can have access to DL peak rates up to 46 Mbps with an average DL channel capacities exceed 14 Mbps over a full sector.”

The WiMax Forum believes that this support from the Australian government builds upon moves by other nations and mobile carriers, including US, UK, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, India, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Japan and Chile. In these countries there are plan to utilize WiMax technology to provide broadband Internet access via fixed and mobile implementations that will greatly affect the ability for those in rural areas to gain broadband connectivity where other means have not been feasible or possible.

The WiMax Forum noted that many governments and carriers who have similarly selected WiMax technology for regional and rural broadband access view it as a more affordable alternative to offering broadband connectivity via wireline or emerging mobile 3G technologies.

The federal government’s initiative will receive $958 million from the $1.85 billion Broadband Connect program and more than $900 million from OPEL, a joint venture between Optus and rural service provider Elders, and promises speeds of 12 Mbps for most rural areas by expanding WiMax infrastructure.

Senator Coonan said OPEL joint venture will install ADSL2+ capabilities in 426 WiMax exchanges in regional and outer-metropoloitan areas, and 15,000 kilometers of fiber optic backhaul to link rural and city networks and broaden links across the Bass Strait.

“Australia has now entered into a whole new broadband era with speeds 20 to 40 times faster than those used by most consumers today, with the first Australia Connected broadband network services to be switched on immediately,” Coonan said, adding the plan will reduce regional backhaul costs by 30 percent.

Meanwhile, Telstra, the Optus-lead G9 consortium and the ACCC continue to squabble over plans for a national Fiber-to-the-Node (FttN) network.

Telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, said the initiative is realistic in light of stagnated FttN debates, although ADSL2+ and WiMax are not cutting-edge technologies.

“It is a realistic project which uses the common idea of a shared network with bits of WiMax, Broadband over Powerline (BPL) and some ADSL2+, however its not the best,” Budde said.

“Telstra will react with lower prices for the regional areas and we will have a better rural service.”

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