Seven to make national wireless broadband play

Seven is to become a national wireless broadband provider in a move which if it succeeds would see the TV company win a major involvement in the future of video streaming in Australia.

The bold move was revealed by director Ryan Stokes, son of boss Kerry Stokes, at a conference in Sydney today.  

As has previously been announced, Seven’s company Vivid Wireless will shortly launch a 4G service in Perth. But Stokes told the Broadband and Beyond audience:

“While we’re excited about Perth we see it as just the beginning. Today I can announce that soon after Vivid’s Perth launch in March we will commence deployment of services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra.

“These networks will be ‘Metro Extension Networks’ established to serve major university sites and surrounding communities in these cities. We believe there is the strongest demand for high quality wireless data in these locations and it will make efficient use of our spectrum in the territories where we have licences.

“While centred in the high density urban areas, the networks are the starting point for future deployments. We are finalising our plans and expect to have them operating within 12 months. The foundations of our national network will be in place.”

Another Seven company, Unwired already provides some wireless services in Sydney and Melbourne.

During the speech, Stokes made it clear that Seven’s aim for the Vivid network is to support video streaming and other computing applications – not telcos’ bread and butter voice traffic which he said used the spectrum inefficiently.

Further spectrum will shortly be available as Australia’s TV services switch from analogue to digital. Stokes’ announcement is likely to drive even higher the likely bids for the spectrum.

Stokes also pointed to Apple’s forthcoming iPad as putting a new strain on Australia’s telco services. He said:

“The new Apple iPad is an interesting device. While mobile it blends computing and communicating. At the moment it’s not clear which one it will serve best, or perhaps both. What we believe is that rich media on that device will require true broadband speeds, and for that to be mobile. The US 3G networks are struggling to serve streaming video to an iPhone screen. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the iPad.”

And he dropped another hint that Seven’s next digital channel is on the way. He said: “Today at Seven we have two distinct digital channels and very soon we will have three.”


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