Vividwireless has spectrum advantage: CEO

Dylan Bushell-Embling
25 May 2011

Australia's vividwireless is banking on its spectrum horde to give it a competitive advantage in the country's embryonic LTE market.

The operator, which operates a Wimax network in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra, has been testing TD-LTE using equipment provided by Huawei.

CEO Martin Mercer told TelecomAsia the trial proved that its existing network is software upgradeable to TD-LTE, and that “we can run a 10MHz Wimax channel and a 20MHz LTE channel in parallel on the same baseband units and antennas.”

The company is now deciding whether to upgrade its network to TD-LTE or to run both Wimax and TD-LTE in tandem.

Mercer said that while TD-LTE “certainly figures into our national rollout plans,” a final decision is still being made.“The RAN part of TD-LTE is commercially ready, the limiting factor is devices,” he said.

“The extent to which and the timing of any TD-LTE deployments really is depending on our confidence about the device ecosystem, and that confidence is growing all the time.”

Running both Wimax and LTE is only an option because the company is “in the very fortunate position of having a lot of spectrum,” Mercer said. Vividwireless operates in the 2.3GHz band, and has between 70-90MHz of spectrum depending on the market.

For this reason, Mercer shrugged off Telstra's announcement yesterday that it had switched on its first LTE base stations with a view to a rollout to capitals by the end of the year. Telstra is refarming 1800MHz spectrum for the upgrade.

“Telstra will be using 10MHz channels which means that it won't really go any faster than their current HSPA+ network which uses bonded 5MHz channels,” he said. “And it won't go any faster than our Wimax network which uses 10MHz channels.”

Because of its spectrum constraints, Telstra's LTE plans are more about capitalizing on the more efficient data capabilities of LTE than increasing speeds, he said.

And Telstra isn't alone. “I think all [the major Australian carriers, which have all trialled LTE] are limited by the amount of spectrum they have today,” Mercer said.

Mercer also doesn't view the NBN national fiber network project as a head-on competitor, stating that vividwireless is targeting the wireless-only households that the NBN has always been planning for.

Vividwireless is a wholly-owned subsidiary of broadcaster Seven Group Holdings.

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