AAPT demonstrates LMDS technology

AAPT is preparing to make an aggressive attack on Telstra's local call business with the introduction of LMDS (local multi-point distribution service) technology to Australia later this year.

AAPT is Australia's only telecommunications provider with the rights to deliver LMDS technology. In February this year, the telco made a $66 million investment into LDMS technology when it obtained an exclusive 15 year licence for the 28-31GHz spectrum across Australia from the Australian Communications Authority.

Amidst speculation of recent takeover discussions with Cable & Wireless Optus, AAPT yesterday demonstrated a trial of the broadband wireless technology.

The company also announced a strategic alliance with Cisco, who through its partnership with Bosch will help AAPT bring the service to market.

In an initial $60 million investment, Cisco and Bosch are supplying key technology for the wireless network which will support traditional voice traffic, high-speed data traffic -- including frame relay, ATM, LAN/WAN connectivity and private networks and IP-based services such as multimedia and voice over IP.

According to Steve Picton, AAPT group director of strategic development, the company is aiming to gain 7 per cent market share of the local call business over the next 10 years, with small to medium businesses a key target market for the service.

Picton said the technology will enable AAPT to bypass Telstra's access points and reduce local call costs.

According to Picton, AAPT hopes to have the service commercially available by December this year. Phase 1 rollout of 20 nodes to key areas such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth is due for completion in October and a further 100 to 120 nodes will be installed in regional areas in Q1, 2000.

According to Larry Williams, AAPT's chief executive officer, the company is also considering selling 25 to 30 per cent of the new wireless business to a US-based LMDS operator.

While not revealing the name, Williams said AAPT had been in recent discussions with an interested US operator listed on the NASDAQ.

An announcement is expected to be made " fairly soon", he said, but has been "put on hold" due to unrelated takeover discussions with Cable & Wireless Optus.

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