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Wireless telecommunications network deployments

The role of due diligence, systems analysis and similar processes cannot and should not be underestimated. They are all vital to the success of any technology provider’s business venture. However, time after time, providers are failing to carry out adequate planning and preparation. This post sets out some important commercial and legal issues that need to be considered in the preliminary stages of a wireless broadband access project.

Commercial Issues

The first and foremost commercial issue that should be considered is the supply and demand for wireless internet in the ISP’s proposed network territory. Customers that are able to use ADSL or other wired solutions in the proposed territory might be less likely to fork out the extra dollars to cover the construction costs associated with the ISP’s wireless network.

Another commercial issue that should not be overlooked is the provider’s experience and technical capability in constructing wireless networks generally. To avoid a costs blowout, the fees that may be expended in this area on engineers and network analysts will need to be accounted for and rationalised against potential revenues. Alternatively, it may be necessary to piggyback off another provider’s network provided that this is strategically advantageous.

Legal Issues

The main Government body assigned to the regulation of wireless access services in Australia is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) also plays a significant role.

The Government has imposed a whole raft of legal obligations on wireless internet service providers. Some are connected with telecommunications law, some with radiocommunications law and others with leasing arrangements, emission laws, privacy, e-security, interception, national security and further important issues.

One legal and technical question for all providers in this area is to determine which radiocommunications frequency is best for the network. This needs to be considered in light of the costs involved, the licensing issues and the availability and levels of interference in the territory.

A popular option available to providers is to simply utilise one of the “free” spectrums. If there is little interference in the ISPs proposed network territory, ACMA says that, akin to the concept of a public park, the provider may use it free of charge subject to certain conditions. However, also like in a public park, the ISP will not have much right to complain if someone kicks their ball into its picnic area. Providers using these shared radiofrequencies simply need to learn to share the spectrum. The other option is to pay licensing fees for the exclusive use of a specific spectrum.

There are many other issues that will affect a reseller’s decision to penetrate the broadband wireless internet channel. Please feel free to contact me if you need any legal advice in this area.

Disclaimer: This column is for general informational purposes only. It is not legal advice nor is it a substitute for legal advice. Readers should seek legal advice on their own particular circumstances. Alan Arnott is a technology & telecommunications lawyer with qualifications in computer science and law with Arnotts Lawyers Jones Bay Wharf in Sydney. For more information, please visit http://www.arnotts.net.au.