The deal is worth $1.1 billion over ten years with the communications vendor helping NBN Co out with detailed network designs.
This makes it the second major Australian LTE contract win for Ericsson this year. In February, Ericsson was commissioned to deploy Telstra’s 1800MHz LTE mobile network by the end of 2011.
NBN Co is set to deliver a high-speed fibre broadband connection to 93 per cent of Australian premises. Four per cent will receive a fixed-wireless connection while the remainder three per cent will be serviced by satellite. The company’s priority is now set to bring high-speed broadband services to the seven per cent of rural and remote Australia left out of the NBN’s fibre footprint.
“The fixed wireless network is engineered to deliver services to premises where the actual device is fixed in space,” NBN Co CTO, Gary McLaren, said at a press event. “An antenna will be connected to a home and out dockside of the home and is fixed in space for a high quality network.”
NBN Co’s planned wireless network, with a maximum speed of 12Mbps, is more stable than standard mobile broadband networks due to its fixed nature. While fixed-wireless is still a shared medium, variables of people moving in and out of cell sites and speed degradation due to multiple devices using the network – common issues plaguing mobile wireless networks - are reduced.
This allows NBN Co to deliver quality of service (QoS) to prioritise applications such as for eHealth through the network. The objective is to be able to offer fibre, fixed wireless and satellite services in a similar way to make it easier for retail service providers to bundle their applications and market them nationally. Receivers for the service installed in homes are expected to be upgraded over time to push speeds higher than 12Mbps.
“We do anticipate over the next few years once we get the network in place and understand the network we will work with our vendor to increase speeds as we can,” McLaren said.
NBN Co’s fixed wireless rollout will be similar to how it was done with the fibre network. There will be first release sites which will service as testbeds followed by a wide deployment. The complete rollout is set to be completed by 2015. This is aligned with the satellite deployment schedule and means it will be finished before the main fibre network.
First release sites will be announced in the coming weeks with commercial services to commence by early to mid next year.
Around 45 of the 120 points of interconnect will be used for the network. It will require new mobile infrastructure so new towers will be installed to touched locations.
NBN Co stressed again that this is still a wholesale-only product.
“We are not looking to replace any other networks,” McLauren said. “Existing copper and 3G networks will still be in place in these locations.
“We will be bringing our network in to bring better broadband services to regional areas.”
In February, NBN Co acquired spectrum from Austar for wireless capacity. Spectrum is still required for WA and Northern Territory. ACMA is expected to commence auctioning of restacked spectrum by mid next year.