Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Broadcaster Bailout Boosts Bush Broadband

Yesterday AUSTAR announced it would sell 2.3GHz AND 3.5GHz spectrum to the Optus/ Elders OPEL venture for their WiMAX network in regional Australia. As I mentioned in a series of talks on broadband in regional Australia last September, the lack of dedicated spectrum was a flaw in the original Opel plan, which the Austar deal now largely solves.

AUSTAR originally purchased the spectrum for Pay TV. Opel's WiMax network would be technically capable of carrying Pay TV, but there is no mention of it in the announcement and Optus provide a rival Pay TV service. There may be a need for the government to legislate to require open access for Pay TV on the WiMax system.

The ALP's broadband policy did not specifically mention WiMax and during the election campaign they criticized its coverage. However, it is likely the new ALP government will include it in the plans and it would provide a lower cost way to provide services outside the range of ADSL.

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