Huawei has secured the contract to deploy Australia’s first Wimax network in the city of Perth with broadcaster the Seven Network.
In a surprise move, the €29 million network will be built by a new Seven Network subsidiary, Vividwireless, and not wireless carrier Unwired, an existing subsidiary.
Unwired, which has a wireless data network in Melbourne and Sydney has had its national network rollout plans in pause since it was acquired by the Seven Network as it was seeking to raise capital to upgrade to a Wimax platform.
But plans for a nation-wide rollout have been scrapped in favor of this much less ambitious project.
Seven abandoned a plan to build the network through Unwired because of high costs, The Australian said.
The rollout will be overseen by Vividwireless' new CEO Martin Mercer, a former Telstra executive, Seven said.
Under the deal with Huawei, Unwired will be drafted to manage the network rollout which is due to be complete by March. Huawei will supply 150 base stations to Vividwireless as part of the network equipment contract.
Huawei’s Australian CTO, Peter Rossi, said, “as a leader in the market, driving industry standards, Huawei welcomes the opportunity to provide Vividwireless with an open, flexible, Wimax platform to deliver next-generation services to their customer base.”
Huawei has won 44 commercial Wimax contracts to date.
Nathan Burley, an analyst at research firm Ovum, said the decision to form Vividwireless may indicate that Seven plans to transform Unwired into a wholesale-only company.
“Vividwireless has access to the largest allocation of 4G spectrum in metropolitan Australia, this will be focused on providing customers the best wireless broadband service in Australia,” Vividwireless chairman Ryan Stokes said.
Vividwireless is promising average speeds of at least 4Mbps on the network.
Perth was selected as the site for the new network because the Western Australian capital is a rapidly growing market, but remains underserved by broadband infrastructure, Vividwireless said.
Burley said the Perth rollout could be a large-scale experiment to see if Vividwireless can compete in the larger markets of Sydney and Melbourne.
“However, it will have to make do without the advantages of leveraging established transmission towers, customer base, brand and distribution, which it would have in Sydney,” he said.
Seven’s bitter rival, pay TV operator Foxtel, is owned by incumbent carrier Telstra and media firms News Corp. and Consolidated Media. Seven boss Kerry Stokes fought a A$200 million court battle against Foxtel over lost sporting rights earlier this decade.