Walker Wireless has confirmed it is piggy-backing on the state-owned BCL network to extend services outside the main centres.
The company’s head, Bob Smith, says five of Walker Wireless’ 22 network points of presence (POPs) rely on BCL transmission towers. He expects that reliance to grow as the company extends its network using new technology that operates in the 2.1GHz spectrum range.
“We’re working through those discussions now [with BCL],” says Smith, “but obviously we have a strong commercial relationship already.”
Walker Wireless is aiming to provide network access to 70% of the population “within a couple of years”, says Smith.
“Our business plan is to move into provincial and rural areas but working with community groups to do that.”
Smith says the company isn’t looking for commitments from communities that they will flock to Walker Wireless. “We’re really trying to understand from local community broadband groups what they see their requirements to be.”
IT and telecomms minister Paul Swain, with whom the company has met “several times”, is helping put Walker Wireless in contact with communities, says Smith.
By the end of the year the company expects to be deploying MMDS (multimedia distribution system) technology, which uses licensed spectrum which it paid $4 million for at auction. MMDS has a range of 35km to receivers within line of sight. It will enable the company to offer services including voice over IP (VoIP).
The technology scales in such a way that a customer can add bandwidth “like turning the volume dial on a radio”, says Smith.
Walker Wireless’s existing services, which are used by 1200 business customers, start at about $100 a month, excluding internet service provider charges.