NBN Co, the public-private company set up to oversee the rollout and management of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), has reportedly selected Swedish vendor Ericsson to assist in the deployment of a Long Term Evolution-based (LTE-based) fixed-wireless network for rural and remote regions. According to local news source ARN, the contract between the two companies has been valued at AUD1.1 billion (USD1.134 billion) over a ten-year period, and the deal represents Ericsson’s second major LTE agreement in Australia this year, after it was selected in February to play a role in rolling out incumbent Telstra’s 4G 1800MHz network by the end of 2011.
As part of the commitment to ensuring higher speed connections for all Australians, while around 93% of the population is expected to be serviced by the under-construction fibre network NBN Co will also deliver broadband to around 4% of premises that are outside the fibre footprint via fixed-wireless services. The remaining 3% of connections will be provided via satellite broadband. The rollout of NBN Co’s fixed-wireless network is expected to happen in a similar fashion to that of the fibre network, with a batch of first release sites that will function as a test of the technology and infrastructure prior to a wider deployment. The rollout is expected to be completed by 2015, while first release sites are likely to be unveiled in the coming weeks, with the first commercial launches expected by mid-2012.