Nearing the March launch of the Seven Network-owned Vividwireless service in Perth, network director Ryan Stokes has forecast preparations to take the service national.
Speaking to the Communications Alliance’s Broadband and Beyond 2010 conference, Stokes said the company plans to address markets in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra. Initially, he said, the service will focus on serving locations such as university precincts and the surrounding residential areas.
Vividwireless is well on track for its planned March launch, Stokes told delegates, with around 150 base stations in place and engineers reporting good network performance in their drive tests.
In an unusual offering for wireless mobile services, Stokes said Vividwireless will support multiple users on a single plan – allowing, for example, various members of a family to use the same service from different locations.
Stokes said the service will explicitly target the needs of the “mobile computing” market rather than trying to compete with voice-centric cellular services. He identified mobile data services as the fastest-growing part of the mobile market.
He also identified the federal government’s spectrum policies as critical to the future of wireless services. With both 700 MHz spectrum (the so-called “digital dividend” spectrum to be freed up by the conversion to digital television) and 2.5 GHz spectrum under review, Stokes called on the government to pursue policies which encourage innovation and the use of wireless spectrum to deliver new applications to citizens, rather than merely seeking to maximize the “dollars per hertz” obtained from selling spectrum.
Stokes was keen to position wireless services as complementary to, rather than in competition to, fibre networks. He believes customers will expect gigabit-per-second home connections within a decade of the NBN build, and he said wireless won’t serve those needs (later, NBN Co’s CEO Mike Quigley noted that no matter how many base stations were deployed, fibre would still be needed, if for no other reason than to connect the base stations).
However, Stokes added, people will still want the mobility that wireless services offer, and mobile computing requirements can reach far beyond individual users (such as smart meters and remote control applications).
The shifting grounds in intellectual property were also of interest to Stokes in his address.
“The whole concept of intellectual property is under threat,” he said. “We are moving from intellectual property to a world of collective intelligence, where content is at risk of becoming just part of the collective intelligence.
“Once released in any format, content can now be passed seamlessly between consumers across countries.”
Stokes said that content remains he driver to broadband adoption, because it is the desire to access content that leads consumers towards higher speeds, but at the same time, “content creators and owners will need to adapt to this new environment.” Broadcasters, he said, need to expand their content production: “it’s not enough to own the rights – you need to create the content”.
However, Stokes said Seven does not intend to try and become a vertically integrated operation in which the content is only available over the Vividwireless network, or that the Vividwireless network only supports Seven’s content.