WiMax rollout bypasses Wellington

Compass Communications to roll out WiMax to 35 cities and districts

Compass Communications plans to roll out a WiMax wireless broadband network covering about 35 cities and districts around the country.

The network will allow maximum download speeds of up to 10 megabits per second.

Spokesman Mike Lancaster says it is already up and running in 15 centres, including Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Palmerston North.

Compass will extend coverage to Blenheim, Ashburton, Timaru and Oamaru in the next few months and continue to add other areas over the next year, but these won't include Wellington, he says.

"We have got some spectrum there but have chosen not to deploy at present just because there are so many other competitors there, such as the TelstraClear network and CityLink."

Compass has spent "a few million dollars" on the network, which is a mix of about 60 new and upgraded towers.

The network which uses the fixed WiMax standard 802.16d will cover the majority of the population in the areas it's available. The firm has a few thousand residential and business customers using its existing wireless broadband service, Mr Lancaster says.

It will continue to offer the same telephone and broadband services to customers, but call quality will be better and data transmission faster, he says.

CallPlus chairman Malcolm Dick says it is evaluating vendors of the latest mobile Wimax standard 802.16e, which has greater roaming capability and speeds of up to 14Mbit/s.

"We plan to roll out an extended version of that in the Auckland area and have everything running and live in the first quarter of next year. If that's successful then we'll be going for a nationwide rollout as well."

The Auckland rollout will cost about $5 million and will be funded by CallPlus, but a national WiMax network would cost about $100m, requiring other investors, he says.

The company plans to keep its two WiMax networks based on the 802.16d standard in Whangarei and Auckland running.

The two networks serve about 400 customers, he says.

Woosh Wireless also plans to update its network to the WiMax standard, but would need fresh equity from investors to do this.

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Tags WiMaxCompass CommunicationsNetworking & Telecomms ID

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