Seven to build Vivid Wireless nationally


updated The Seven Network has revealed plans to start building out its Vivid Wireless 4G wireless broadband network in most of Australia’s capital cities, following the network’s construction in Perth.

Seven director Ryan Stokes told a conference in Sydney this morning that the company was planning to launch the network in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane.

Stokes said the networks in the other capital cities would start at major university sites and the areas around them and become starting points for future deployments, with construction work to take place in the next year.

The Vivid Wireless brand will see up to 20Mbps wireless broadband services offered to Perth residents this year, providing an alternative to the 3G mobile networks currently offered by the major telcos. Stokes said since the revelation of Vivid’s plans in September last year, the company had been busy deploying the network in Perth, and was on track for a March launch.

“Early results from drive testing have been very encouraging,” he said, noting the network would reach over 150 sites across Perth. The Seven director said he saw the launch of Vivid Wireless as “the most exciting development in the broadband market in 2010”.

Stokes also took a stab at wireless rival Telstra, joking that Seven had checked and worked out that the name of Telstra’s mobile network, ‘Next G’, was not available to Seven. “Perhaps I should say that our G is the next G,” he said.

The Seven executive said Seven wanted to position Vivid Wireless as targeting the mobile computing market, being devices like laptops, as opposed to the mobile communications market for handheld devices like smartphones, currently targeted by the major telcos with their 3G networks.

He said Seven expected the mobile computing and mobile communications networks to evolve differently in future, pointing out that the onset of data access onto the mobile networks had caused strains in some points.

Vivid, he said, would focus on data, without having to deal with “inefficient” voice services. “US 3G networks are struggling to serve streaming video to an iPhone. It will be interesting to see how they cope with an iPad,” he said.

Much of the speculation surrounding the company’s 2007 acquisition of wireless telco Unwired, which fuelled the Vivid Wireless effort, had focused on the idea that Seven would use the wireless platform to distribute its content. But regarding Seven’s television assets, Stokes said the company didn’t see the need to tie its content together with the Vivid Wireless network.

Lastly, Stokes addressed the issue of whether wireless networks will compete with the planned National Broadband Network fixed assets. The seven executive pointed out that bandwidth requirements were steadily increasing, and said he saw the pair as complementary rather than as competitors.

“As fixed speeds increase, so will demand for wireless,” he said.