December 1, 2006

Sydney heads towards ubiquitous free wireless

Posted in Articles tagged at 8:20 pm by siddey

As a sign that we’re about to enter an election year here in New South Wales, Premier Morris Iemma today announced that the state Government intends to provide CBD-wide free wireless access by 2008. As reported by, the Government will put out a tender early in 2007 to cover the CBD and six other key business centres.

Given the planned timeframe one would hope that they hold out for Wimax, as it would not only arguably reduce their expenditure but also facilitate true LBS entrants entering the marketspace, courtesy of the roaming support that the 802.16e Wimax standard brings.

Given the relatively small number of commercial players in this space, it’s likely that the lucky winner will be one of the following;

Unwired – They’ll be crossing their fingers that the state Government recognises the benefit of waiting for them to upgrade their existing network to Wimax in 2007 and the subsequent rollout of consumer gear in 2008. Unlike the Telcos, Unwired would not be risking channel conflict given this is all they offer.

Telstra – I’m sure they’ll have a stab at it, until they realise that it will conflict horribly with their NextG 3G network expansion. Come to think of it, they may just win it to ensure that Unwired doesn’t have an opportunity to leap miles ahead courtesy of their Wimax network. I wouldn’t put this past them.

Optus – Optus already have a significant investment in Wifi hotspots around NSW. I’m sure they will look for an opportunity to finally make money out of their service although the conflict with their 3G network is likely to put them in a similar position as Tel$tra.

Azure – They’re definitely up there as a company that would benefit significantly from winning such a deal. They already leverage existing Telco hotspots as part of their large WiFi hotspot virtual network, so it would be all positive for them.

Of course I’m also excited about the separate news in this article that Perth, Western Australia will see significant investment in their broadband capacity (to the sum of $1 billion over 10 years). This is great news indeed for the state that the East coast seems to forget exists. WA is a leader in so many ways but doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. You only need to look at a company like metromesh to know that WA is switched on to the world of location based services.

Go Perth! 🙂

Update 06/05/2008: This is dead. Yep, you heard me. Dead! Our state government announced that they’ve killed off their plans for rolling out free wireless yesterday. Granted this could be because Unwired was a frontrunner (maybe?) and they’ve since been bought-out by Channel 7, who also announced today that they’re even further behind in their plans to rollout Wimax here in Australia.  So perhaps the plan still has a pulse and the government is merely killing time (pardon the pun) but the bad news is that the good news would be that we have to wait another year to find out what they’re up to and whether it does in fact involve flooding our local universe with ubiquitous, free Wimax goodness.