Fast data transfer tops Formus trial plans

US telecommunications company Formus Communications will carry out a commercial trial of its high-bandwidth integrated voice, video and data technology in Auckland by the end of the year. The Denver-based carrier will use the five lots of 28GHz radio spectrum it bought for $2.6 million at February's Ministry of Commerce auction to deliver LMDS (local multi-point distribution services) such as high-speed Internet access.

US telecommunications company Formus Communications will carry out a commercial trial of its high-bandwidth integrated voice, video and data technology in Auckland by the end of the year.

The Denver-based carrier will use the five lots of 28GHz radio spectrum it bought for $2.6 million at February’s Ministry of Commerce auction to deliver LMDS (local multi-point distribution services) such as high-speed Internet access.

“Once introduced in New Zealand, we are expecting a rapid rollout of this technology as it is wireless and does not require the lengthy process of line construction associated with cable services,” says Formus chief financial officer Jim Downs. “Auckland and Wellington, with their tightly focused central business districts, are ideal for this type of technology. Once we are successfully up and running in these cities we will extend our network into other commercial centres in New Zealand.”

Formus has contracted a New Zealand engineering firm, AAS, to begin its interconnect negotiations.

Formus is currently conducting a LMDS trial using equipment from California-based Stanford Telecom.

The US trial covers several significant data users in the Denver area, through an experimental licence granted by the US Federal Commerce Commission. Internet service providers are expected to use the new network to substantially increase the speed of Internet connectivity and services.

“Our system has a number of applications particularly for businesses that need to transfer large amounts of data quickly and efficiently,” says Downs. “For example, this system is perfect for banks seeking to transfer information from their branch offices to a head office location.

“The LMDS technology is also a perfect fit for expanding high-speed Internet access business and, over time, we plan to cover all of the major commercial centres in our markets with sufficient bandwidth to eliminate local access bottlenecks.

“Once deployed, the LMDS technology offers rapid implementation of customer services at data transfer rates up to 155Mbit/s. Currently 2Mbit/s is considered to be at the top end of the available range, while accessing the Internet through a phone line and modem is done at just 33Kbit/s.

“We will offer more than 25 times the speed currently available for data transfer.”

In addition to its trial in Denver, Formus is introducing the technology in two other markets where it has licences, Poland and South America.

LMDS uses wireless technology. Formus customers access the system through a small satellite dish about 30cm across, mounted on the roof or outside wall of their building. This sends and receives data from a central site via radio transmissions in the 26-28GHz bands, bypassing phone lines.

“There is a huge potential in the area of data transfer, Internet access and utilisation, telephone service and even tele-vision transmission for LMDS.

“But for the moment we are concentrating on data transfer services for business users.”

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