Ericsson to operate NBN wireless, manage satellite migration

Ericsson will continue to operate NBN Co's fixed wireless service

Ericsson Australia has won a four-year NBN Co contract to continue to operate the National Broadband Network fixed wireless service, as well as ground systems for the Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS).

Ericsson will also migrate subscribers of NBN Co's Interim Satellite services to the LTSS.

Ericsson won the original contract to roll out and operate the fixed wireless service in 2011. The contract was worth up to $1.1 billion over its projected 10-year life.

"Ericsson is already playing a central role in helping the NBN to enable the digital economy in regional and rural Australia and to narrow the digital divide between the city and the bush," NBN Co's chief operating officer, Greg Adcock, said in a statement.

“It is a sensible use of taxpayers’ money to have a single entity managing customer appointments, installation visits, service calls, network performance reporting and network maintenance for all NBN users outside the fixed-line footprint.”

"As we extend our strategic partnership with NBN Co, we look forward to delivering both fixed wireless and satellite services to rural and regional Australia," said Håkan Eriksson, head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand.

A review released in May of NBN Co's plan to deliver broadband services to the 7-8 per cent of population outside the NBN fixed line footprint found that it woefully underestimated the demand in those areas.

In response to the review NBN Co indicated it would look at increasing the footprint of fixed wireless services by building more towers as well as rolling out fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) services to areas that would previously not have received fixed line NBN services.

Under the preferred scenario canvassed by the report NBN Co will build an extra 1300 fixed wireless base stations, bringing the total number to around 2700. FTTN services would be delivered to 25,000 premises that are currently earmarked for fixed wireless of satellite.

The LTSS is due to launch in late 2015. The review also found that the LTSS was behind schedule and the service was unlikely to be operational until early 2016.

NBN Co has signed a contract with Optus to operate the two satellites that will deliver the LTSS.

Earlier this month NBN Co begun accepting registrations for its subsidised satellite broadband service. The new service is designed to connect the 9000 households and businesses in remote areas of Australia that are currently unable to access NBN Co’s Interim Satellite Service.

NBN Co's fixed wireless is now available to more than 100,000 premises, with some 16,000 households and businesses signed up for the service.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p