Dense Air plans to offer small cell 5G services in Australia

UK company will offer fully managed 5G ‘densification’ service in Australia

UK-based Dense Air intends to provide telco-neutral 5G services in Australia, the company announced today.

Along with expected bidders Telstra, Optus and a TPG-Vodafone joint venture, Dense Air walked away with licences for spectrum in the 3.6GHz band following the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s recent auction.

The company picked up six lots in Adelaide, seven in each of Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, and one each in Melbourne and Sydney. In total, the company forked out $18,492,000 for spectrum licences, which will extend until December 2030 (the licences formally begin in March 2020 but the ACMA has indicated licensees may be able to get their hands on spectrum early in some cases).

The 3.6GHz band will be the first used in Australia to deliver 5G services.

Dense Air is yet to launch its 5G services. In addition to the UK has offices in Ireland, Belgium and Portugal. It said is currently conducting trials ahead of a commercial launch in 2019. It plans to begin offering 5G services in Australia in 2020.

Dense Air said in Australia it plans to deliver a ‘carrier of carriers’ offering which will see a single 5G small cell or femtocell potentially support multiple operators.

The company said it would be offered as a fully managed service available to mobile and fixed network operators.

The company also recently acquired 70MHz of spectrum in New Zealand.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have acquired 5G spectrum in the major metro areas of Australia,” said CEO Paul Senior. “Our spectrum enables us to offer a completely new type of wholesale service to 5G network operators. Dense Air will complement planned 5G deployments, by allowing much greater densification than can be achieved with macro cells alone.”

The company said it would not be competing with retail service providers.

“By offering both 5G enterprise small cells and 5G residential femtocells, we can in-fill missing coverage and enhance capacity,” Senior said. “Our mission is to help improve an operator’s 5G business cases, which still remains very challenging for both MNOs [mobile network operators] and MVNOs [mobile virtual network operators] alike.”

The company said that use cases included delivering enhanced mobile broadband, low latency services, and IoT applications.