‘Real-world’ WiMAX in regional Australia

Thursday, 07 February, 2008

Internode has started connecting users to its high-speed national network, claiming to be the first Australian broadband company to deliver a region-wide, wireless broadband service using WiMAX.

The company has several installation teams working on the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, to connect more than 200 people who have ordered broadband through the Federal Government’s Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) program. Many of these people live too far from a telephone exchange to get ADSL-based broadband.

Through a network of 10 WiMAX base stations using the 3.4 GHz licensed spectrum, the company is achieving transmission speeds as fast as 6 Mbps at distances as far as 30 km from the tower, as long as good line of sight is available.

The company is using WiMAX wireless broadband technology throughout the Yorke Peninsula to connect users who are beyond the reach of ‘wired’ ADSL services, which are limited by telephone line quality and distance from the telephone exchange.

“With WiMAX equipment installed on 10 of our towers, we are providing virtually 100% coverage of the Yorke Peninsula,” Internode managing director Simon Hackett said.

“With good line of sight, we are achieving speeds as fast as six megs per second at distances up to 30 km from the base station. This is not a theoretical result — it’s a real-world outcome. All of our base station equipment is now installed, so it’s just a matter of setting up equipment at our customers’ premises. We have two surveyors and four installation teams on the road to make sure we can get the equipment deployed as quickly as possible.”

The company has already taken delivery of more than 150 Airspan WiMAX CPE (customer premises equipment) radios, which use Rosedale chips from Intel. Each device is mounted on a mast at the user’s site, delivering line-of-sight connectivity to a base station.

Surveyors use mobile WiMAX equipment at the user site to identify the optimal configuration, including the necessary radio height, and achieve the required broadband performance. This customised configuration is then assembled off-site, so it can be quickly and easily installed at the user’s premises, with minimal adjustment.

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