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Australia's First Commercial Fixed Wireless Network 88

randomErr writes: " reports here that 'Of the $130 million Unwired Australia raised from the likes of Credit Suisse First Boston, Bruckman Rosser Sherrill and The Invus Group, $110 million was spent on licensing space on the 3.4Ghz spectrum. Yesterday it launched its first trial of the technology at no cost to the people of Paddington, a cosmopolitan suburb in Sydney's inner east.'" Of course, wireless broadband with cast-off satellite dishes sounds more fun ...
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Australia's First Commercial Fixed Wireless Network

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  • Sounds like MMDS (Score:4, Informative)

    by cyberformer ( 257332 ) on Friday June 14, 2002 @02:52AM (#3699497)
    The article just goes on about Wi-Fi, with almost no description of the service itself, but it sounds like MMDS --- the same thing that Sprint and AT&T dropped in the US about six months ago, after they were told that they could switch the spectrum over to 3G mobile instead.

    Good to see a free trial, though. Sounds like the company's actually trying to get the service right before it starts charging people, unlike so many other broadband or wireless services.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It is too bad Sydney Wireless Is not a community network though. They charge just like an ISP.
      • It is too bad Sydney Wireless Is not a community network though. They charge just like an ISP

        Thats because there is already a free Australian wireless network. The Mesh.

    • I live in Toowoomba QLD and the Mesh is here. Another issue to be considered is Mirrors. The more people who set up mirrors on the mesh of important download sites, the less connection to the Internet will be required.
      I think that some people will allow trickle connections between the Mesh and the Net, If there is enough trickle connections then we won't need broadband. Then perhaps Telstra will take notice (And probably petition the gov to ban free wireless but anyway :)
  • All this is promising but they still have a hurdle to overcome before they gain the 95%coverage they are after. As their service gains in popularity people will start to notice the access points and object to them for similiar reasons as mobile phone towers, looks and perceived health effects. Soon enough the complaints will roll in making getting the coverage an issue.

    I will start celebrating if (not necessarily when) the service provides better value than the current Australian standard of 3 gig per month caps for $75.

  • is unreachable - connections just time out
  • you're talking serious dollars to live in paddington. typical to only go after the rich. surely they could have offered the trial to those who live in areas not reached by cable or ADSL technology, to show them what opportunities lie ahead?

    those living in Penrith or on the central coast, perhaps?? what's to bet people living in those areas won't get much attention at all.
    • From the article:

      The incremental nature of the deployment means that Unwired can handpick the geographical areas which exhibit most demand, saving the precious cash it has left.


      At present that strategy consists of identifying customers that are beyond reach of both Telstra's ADSL network and the cable backbones of the incumbent and Optus.

      To me these 2 statements seem contradictory. The places that are out of reach are rural and outer suburbs where they won't get the demand required for a rollout profitable.
      • You do realise that there are lots of areas in sydney where you can't get either ADSL or Optus cable? And some places where you can't get any broadband connections?

        Telstra cable is admittedly more attractive since Optus brought in their own cap, but I wouldn't be surprised if large areas of Paddington aren't serviced.

        oh yeah, and I currently work in Paddington, and used to live there. It's not all rich yuppies, just big slabs of it... you can still find pockets of student shared terraces around the place...
  • Seems bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jukal ( 523582 ) on Friday June 14, 2002 @03:30AM (#3699598) Journal
    Why would someone transfer data at 3.4 Ghz - and pay this company renting the bit-pipe, as there is the free 2.4 Ghz alternative and both use similar technology and products can easily support both bands?

    Regulating WLAN spectrum might be good for everyone - but this is not really what I was thinking about - to me it seems that this company is pissing in the wind. I would quess that what people will do, is to set their machines use 2.4 when it provides reliable enough bandwidth at good enough speed, and only use 3.4 during extreme peek hours. If this is how it goes, getting the $130 million investment on spectrum license (and millions put in other purposes) back might take so long, that we have already warped into next generation of spectrums.

    • Re:Seems bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wohali ( 57372 )
      Easy. 2.4GHz is getting VERY VERY busy. Plus, at least in the US, you're limited on the amount of power you can pump out. Perhaps on the higher band in Australia, you don't have that restriction, meaning you can push the bits farther in space...
      • Australia has about the same problems as the US. Syndney and Melbourne are large cities in both population and size. Melbourne covers an area about the size of LA but has more people than Chicago. Sydney isn't as spread out but there are more people. This results in needing to cover huge areas and some are very high density while others are quite low. Once you get out of the major cities, the population density goes way down. The power requirements for 2.4 are about the same as in the US (but different just to make life fun for importers) but you end up with more people attempting to run long runs since telecom expenses are way out of hand.
    • Re:Seems bizarre (Score:3, Informative)

      by Graymalkin ( 13732 )
      ISM bands have very very very limited power output. When you actually pay money to license a raio band you can have a much much higher output transmitter. Higher output means a better signal at longer range. Not everything is fucking free and ISM bands aren't an answer to the communication quandaries of the known fucking world.
      • > Not everything is fucking free and ISM bands aren't an answer to the communication quandaries of the known fucking world.

        Eh, has your day gone to bad direction or what? I was not saying that everything should be free. 3.4 Ghz is just too close to 2.4 Ghz. Benefits are too little. Higher frequencies might make sense. Also, GPRS and UMTS make sense as long-range solutions. 2.4 Ghz makes sense as short-range solution. Value of $130 million value for 3.4 Ghz in australia is hard to see. Australia has population of 19.7 million. If you got every 200th australian use your licensed bandwidth, you would have to squeeze $1319 out from each just to cover your licensing fees. Am I making any more sense now?
        • Buying a license guarantees you get that bandwidth for several years and lets you sublease that bandwidth to others. There's a huge difference between only being able to output a couple of watts in an ISM band and being able to output a ton of watts in a licensed band. Say what they want to do is set up an LMDS network using their licensed band. They can have a fewer number of transceivers and have a longer range on those transceivers than they could with 2.4GHz ISM because they can broadcast with much more power. The individual receivers are also not going to be getting interference from anything else on the 2.4GHz ISM band either which is going to make a much clearer network.

          Now they may have paid way too much for their band license, time will tell. Then again the subleasing of the band might end up making them some beacoup bucks, while every 200th Australian might buy a connection from them, if another 200th bought a connection from a company subleasing bandwidth from them that is twice the customers with the same investment. Owning a band can be profitable because anyone who wants to use that band has to go through you. Am I making more sense now?
    • there is the free 2.4 Ghz alternative and both use similar technology and products can easily support both bands?

      Oh crap? I didn't realise it was 2.4 GHz. Can someone with knowledge tell me the exact frequency?

      I just remember observing at the Australia Telescope [] last summer at 2496 MHz.

      Just another hurdle to overcome, I guess..... :(
    • There's some nice things you can do with non-line-of-sight [] around 3.5GHz if you can get the power output high enough (often not possible on the lower power class-licensed systems available for use in the 2.4GHz band). And having exclusive access to a band gives a lot of freedom from interference that you just have to accept in 2.4GHz.
  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Friday June 14, 2002 @03:45AM (#3699639) Homepage
    They intend to offer voice and data in mostly the same areas that you can get adsl and optus (cable tv, cable phone, cable internet). They will be going after the holes left by the other players and the newer urban areas.

    3.5Ghz sucks when you get too many people in a an area. Most places max out with about 6000 real broadband users. Some places went upto 18,000. Now figure spending 100 million for 18,000 in two major markets and three minor markets, whats the payoff on this. They also will be offering service that is slower than current adsl.

    The good thing is it will keep Telstra from increasing rates until they buy these guys out. Telstra just happens to be doing something with Unwired Australia but I'm not sure what. That assumes that Telstra won't plop down a few dslams to take these people out of the picture. I figure Telstra can drop 1.5/256/1G ADLS service down to about AU$15/mo and still cover their technology and upstream costs.
    • 3.5Ghz sucks when you get too many people in a an area

      Surely this could be mitigated with directional antennae?
      • with point to multi-point? To get good reception through the trees, you have to enough power that the stray signal will go at least 5km if not 25km. Since they are transmitting many bits per frequency cycle, they can't deal with too much noise. This is what killed the large rollouts in the US. 3.5 is line of sight to have it work but its interfeerance is near line of sight. One reason that the 3.5 band is mostly empty is the strange characteristics of the frequency.
  • I guess the Aussies didnt read the slashdot article that was posted TWICE I might add about the new energy saving lightbulbs causing interference with wireless networks? How long before their 110 Million dollar network stops working?
  • first they outlawed handguns, i guess the next thing that's going out the door is Pringles []. Get them before they make you register them, Aussies!

  • For those in Melbourne, there is Alphalink, and the wireless network it is rolling out.
  • anyone remembers this [] article? I wonder how the pple there will react. OTOH, the matrix crew might be delighted to have wireless internet :P
  • cuz it will make it easier for them to spy on the net traffic...

  • so I can get rid of this shitty ass Telstra ADSL account that goes down every day, is restricted to 300 MB (whats the fuking point) or now 1 GB for $$ more... and requires a gay ass buggy as shit windows driver to "connect". What bullshit is this? what happened to the static IP I had in San Francisco? Australia sucks ass for broadband and its pissing me ofFF !@#@
    • so I can get rid of this shitty ass Telstra ADSL account
      Very true - the funny thing is that in this country the papers are full of stuff about how there are not many people getting broadband connections. The reality is that the services are very poor and very expensive - so dial up is still the best way to go for most. Telstra invented ISDN, so they want everyone to use that (at premium rates) instead of a very unstable ADSL network (at premium rates and very localised areas). All of the people I know with ADSL have had problems - not a single happy customer; various stuff ups like Telstra deleting all their ADSL customers websites over Easter (and having no backups) annoyed a lot of people. All tremble before the power of the monopoly. Other companies are reselling Telstra ADSL, but when something fails you still have to deal with Telstra.

      One problem with the wireless nets in Australia is that they have to connect to Telstra somewhere. Connecting at multiple points for redundancy is not a solution, since the ADSL service often goes down en-masse. The cable services are very localised, and have not expanded in five years.

  • What we have been spending some time on is using fixed point to setup hotspots in an effort to reduce the line of sight problem. Doing smaller hotspots or micro pops, can get the coverage you need, especially when mixing 900Mhz with 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz.

    derek []
  • For those that couldn't find it Unwired Australia is at

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson