Report: AT&T using NetComm, Ericsson for fixed WLL effort

AT&T (NYSE: T) is reportedly using equipment from Australia's NetComm Wireless and services from Ericsson for its fixed wireless local loop (WLL) technology tests. AT&T confirmed recently it is testing fixed WLL technology in select areas of the country with local residents who want to try the service, including in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia, and is seeing speeds of around 15 to 25 Mbps.

Citing unnamed sources, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that NetComm signed a master purchase agreement with AT&T in a deal that calls for NetComm to work with Ericsson to deploy AT&T's fixed WLL equipment in rural and regional parts of the United States. NetComm today confirmed it inked a purchase agreement with "a large USA-based telecommunications carrier" for a "fixed-wireless rural broadband network which will be built by that carrier." However, the company said that "due to a confidentiality agreement in place with this large USA-based telecommunications carrier, NetComm Wireless is unable to provide specifics in relation to the agreement at the present time."

"We don't discuss our vendor relationships publicly," said an AT&T representative in response to questions on the topic from FierceWireless.

"This agreement is a key milestone in NetComm Wireless' global growth strategy for regional broadband," NetComm CEO David Stewart said in the company's release announcing the purchase agreement. "It builds on our success to date with Ericsson in delivering a similar service to Australia's National Broadband Network. We see potential for this technology solution in many different countries."

In 2011 the Australian government announced it would build a nationwide 2.3 GHz fixed-wireless LTE "wholesale-only" network for all Australians, to be built and operated by Ericsson. Ericsson subsequently inked a deal with NetComm for up to 500,000 fixed-wireless LTE devices to power the network. The devices will essentially connect to users' roofs and communicate with nearby 3G and 4G towers to provide Internet connections inside users' homes. The design of Australia's open nationwide network is very similar to the fixed WLL technology AT&T is testing.

AT&T initially discussed its fixed WLL plans as part of its proposal to acquire DirecTV. In that initial proposal, the carrier said its fixed WLL technology would use its wireless spectrum and LTE infrastructure through a 20 MHz (10x10 MHz paired uplink and downlink) configuration. AT&T in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year said in areas where the fixed WLL will be deployed, it will "provide consumers with a robust broadband experience, with speeds and usage comparable, and typically superior to, the best wireline services available." The carrier added that the technology will even provide customers on the cell edge speeds faster than 10 Mbps more than 90 percent of the time.

AT&T noted that, unlike its mobile wireless service, the fixed WLL service will require a technician to install a fixed WLL receiver at each customer's home.

For more:
- see this SMH article
- see this NetComm release (PDF)

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