FX Networks plans domestic fibre-wireless trial

The trial will use a wireless "mesh" network as the last mile connection, avoiding Telecom's copper network entirely, says FX CFO

FX Networks is readying a fibre-based consumer internet access trial in Wellington’s Oriental Bay. The trial, planned to begin next month, will use a wireless “mesh” network as the last mile connection to the home, says FX chief financial officer Derek Locke, and therefore will avoid Telecom’s much fought-over copper network entirely.

FX was born of annoyance at the standard of customer service and the pricing levels from established telcos, Locke says.

“Now we can get fibre to at least the major towns and larger rural centres of population, I don’t see why we should use [Telecom’s] infrastructure at all. I don’t think local loop unbundling is all that relevant [to the long-term state of the telecoms market].”

FX has two wireless partners, Digital Air and Araneo. Mesh networks can deliver 5 to 10Mbit/s over a radius of six to 10 kilometres, even with a wide angle of dispersion, Locke says.

“If you laser it down [to a narrow beam] it can go up to 70 kilometres.” `This means smaller centres like Masterton and Carterton, already within reach of FX’s fibre backbone, should be easy to cover.

If the early trial succeeds, the next stage will be to “pick off” some of those smaller centres near Wellington and progressively further up and down the backbone.

Free telephone calling on VoIP will be a big selling point of a push into the domestic market, he says. Broadband internet access plus VoIP should be possible for $35-40 a month, he says, which will substantially undercut what most subscribers are paying now for phone plus internet.

Locke joined FX Networks in June, continuing a career that has mixed ICT and finance, including a stint at Telecom.

Before joining FX, he was acting CIO at the New Zealand Defence Force.

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Tags FX NetworkscoppervoipNetworking & Telecomms IDfibretelecom

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