Internode enters regional wireless broadband game

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Internode enters regional wireless broadband game

It’s one of the next big hopes for broadband in regional Australia, and now Internode has beaten major carriers with a WiMax wireless broadband service.

The ISP is claiming to be the first in Australia with “region-wide” wireless broadband using WiMax, though coverage is limited to specific areas near Adelaide. It is working to connect more than 200 people west of Adelaide on the Yorke Peninsula via 10 base stations, according to details released in a statement on Friday.

Today’s announcement is interesting in that it reveals more about what’s required to get WiMax working. Connecting is trickier than just plugging in an external modem - Internode customers use Airspan WiMax CPE radios, which are mounted on a mast outside their home with line-of-sight to the nearest base station. Internode also sends “surveyors” to check settings like the height of the radio before the customer’s equipment is pre-configured.

WiMax is being pushed as a broadband solution for people unable to get ADSL because they live too far from a telephone exchange. Internode claims customers in its South Australian rollout are getting speeds of up to 6 megabits per second 30km from the base station.

Deployment may be relatively limited now, but WiMax is set to become more widespread. Optus and Elders are building a WiMax network as part of the $1.9 billion 12Mbps OPEL nationwide broadband initiative. You can see a map of “likely and possible” WiMax coverage archived here.

Intel is also planning to add WiMax to notebook computers in the second half of 2008, with the Montevina platform. The company has developed a wireless card dubbed Echo Peak that combines WiFi and WiMax.

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