ISPs label OPEL a feeble overbuild of existing infrastructure

Network dubbed billion dollar botch

Regional ISPs have dubbed the OPEL WiMax network a token gesture and said local operators should have been awarded the government funds to extend solutions already operational.

ISPs across Australia told Computerworld the government subsidies under the Broadband Connect program awarded to OPEL to build a national broadband network, will be wasted because deployments in remote areas will fail.

Michael Feldbauer, director of Northern Territory-based ISP Arafura Connect which offers fixed and wireless broadband, said the OPEL network will be a feeble overbuild of existing infrastructure.

"The previous government should have consulted local ISPs or conglomerates that are operating in regional areas and should have allocated HiBis (Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme) funds to them to bolster their already working and profitable services," Feldbauer said.

"They have planned bugger-all infrastructure with a few repeaters here and there and it isn't going to work - the network will be rolled out arbitrarily and its going to be next to useless.

"They are going to make a bucket-load of money across metro areas and just dump a network up here, and it won't matter if it makes money."

They have planned bugger-all infrastructure with a few repeaters here and there and it isn't going to work

Michael Feldbauer, director of Arafura Connect

Feldbauer, who has discussed the local OPEL infrastructure plans with other ISPs and local government, said the dense and inconsistent terrain will reduce network coverage well below that available through current infrastructure.

He said the current OPEL infrastructure plans for his region has allocated about 50 access points for more than 500 subscribers which he said "doesn't add up".

OPEL bought Austar's 2.3GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum licenses earlier this month for $65 million which would allow it to build a stronger national WiMAX network than previously planned in an unlicensed spectrum.

Stephen Fitzgerald, operator of Twinnet which sells fixed and wireless services in Adelaide Plains, said the network will be an overbuild of existing services in his region.

"There won't be any customers left to take up the network by the time it gets here, which will probably be 12 months after its built in east-coast metro areas," Fitzgerald said.

"They are doubling up on the infrastructure that has already been paid for under previous government funding.

"Their claims that the network will go 30 kilometres is basically bullshit because they haven't taken into account local terrain like hills and trees."

The most Twinnet can push wireless is 10 kilometres, according to Fitzgerald which requires "almost prefect" line of sight.

He said pricing could not be guaranteed because only the core infrastructure is subsidized and customers and wholesalers will need to pay for equipment to access the network.

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