Superloop is shaping as a major player in the fixed wireless space, spending up to $12 million on South Australian network operator NuSkope and outlining ambitions to offer millimetre-wave broadband.
Serial entrepreneur Bevan Slattery’s connectivity venture Superloop now has both BigAir and NuSkope in its fold.
BigAir’s fixed wireless Ethernet services target business users with symmetrical speed offerings; NuSkope connects about 10,000 homes, schools and businesses in the Adelaide metropolitan area and its fringes which were traditionally under-served.
Superloop said it had offered over $10 million for NuSkope, consisting of an initial $7 million in cash and $3 million in shares, and further cash payments split over 2018/19 that are dependent on future revenues.
The total consideration is expected to be somewhere just under $12 million.
Superloop said the buyout of NuSkope “accelerates our ability to significantly expand our fixed wireless coverage in Adelaide and surrounding areas, which neatly complements our BigAir wireless network footprint”.
Slattery said the NuSkope acquisition brought with it network assets, a “sophisticated network coverage service qualification tool” that could be applied to other Superloop assets, as well as NuSkope’s “valuable CRM [customer] database”.
NuSkope said its decision to sell would afford it greater access to capital to expand its reach.
“We do not anticipate any significant changes to the business,” it said in a statement.
“NuSkope will continue to operate from our South Australian offices, with South Australian staff, under the management of the original founders.
“All current customer plans and services will continue unaffected by the sale.”
The news was initially poorly received by some customers, who have seen a succession of South Australian ISPs sold in recent years, such as Internode to iiNet in 2011 and Adam Internet to iiNet in 2013.
High-speed fixed wireless
Fixed wireless has become an attractive vector on which to provide non-NBN services because doing so does not fall afoul of laws - and planned new legislation - cracking down on operators deemed to be competing with NBN Co for customers.
For example, the forthcoming broadband tax will apply only to operators of high-speed fixed line services, but fixed wireless and mobile internet users will be exempt from the $7.10 per service per month tax (should it be enacted by parliament).
Superloop made no secret today of its plans to offer very high-speed internet services in future over fixed wireless.
“NuSkope will provide the ability for further opportunities to deploy high bandwidth, low operating cost mmWave and multipoint access technology,” the company said.
Millimetre-wave or mmWave is a forthcoming fixed wireless technology that aims to bring gigabit-plus speeds to users.
Facebook is one of many trying to push the limits of mmWave. In tests last year, it managed almost 20Gbps speeds over a 13km distance. US carriers like AT&T are also currently conducting lab trials.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is already talking about the introduction of mmWave, and today asked industry for feedback on opening up the 26GHz band for future mmWave deployments.
“For the 26 GHz mmWave band, unless there are significant reasons raised to the contrary, the ACMA will use the information garnered from this process and develop an options paper for release in the first quarter of 2018,” the authority said.
Further adjacent bands could also be set aside for mmWave services.