Mobile Wimax launches Down Under

Nicole McCormick
30 Mar 2010

Mobile Wimax has finally come to Australia.

Vividwireless, backed by one of Australia’s biggest commercial TV providers, has commercially begun its mobile Wimax service in the sole city of Perth.

The good news for Vividwireless is that its broadband prices are competitive compared with the 3G plans offered by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia.

“On a cost per gigabyte basis, especially at higher levels of usage, it [Vividwireless] is very competitive and cheaper than all the mobile operators,” says Ovum analyst, Nathan Burley.

Vividwireless’ plans start from A$20 ($18.34) per month for 1GB of data, to A$99 monthly for 40GB’s.

The service is throttled to 64Kbps when data thresholds are reached, but customers are offered “additional data” packs starting at A$20 for 1GB in the event of data limits being surpassed.

Further, USB modems from Huawei cost A$179 upfront, with home gateways selling for $299 upfront. Huawei also supplied the 110 base stations so far deployed by Vividwireless.

The service has 165 activated accounts after soft-launching two weeks ago, according to the Australian.

Now for the bad news.

Customers wanting to know what data speeds they can expect for their money, will be disappointed.

“Our network is brand new and we don't yet have enough data to be able to publish the actual speeds our customers are experiencing,” says Vividwireless.

Seven director Ryan Stokes told ninemsn last month that customers can expect to see up to 20Mbps data speeds being offered in Perth this year.

The immediate problem for any Wimax start-up taking on incumbent 3G operators’ is of course network reach.

“A key challenge for them [Vividwireless] will be providing broad coverage,” says Burley.

Over the next year, Vividwireless will expand its network Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane, said Stokes.

Compare that to the fact that Telstra’s NextG mobile network reaches 99% of the population.

Burley sums it up when he says: “Vivid will struggle to compete against the established mobile operators with their channels and scale.”

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