Four days ago I wrote that the best broadband I’m likely to see for the next five or six years will be wireless. If independent consultant Jon Brewer is right, that could come in the shape of a Vodafone-owned network of picocells connected to the company’s own back-haul network.
Brewer says Vodafone has the technology and the spectrum needed to roll out a network much faster and cheaper than the UFB network being built by Chorus. It will offer UFB-like speeds. Brewer doesn’t say so, but the economics he outlines suggest Vodafone would be able to boost data caps.
Until now the arguments against wireless networks have been to do with spectrum scarcity and the high cost of network equipment along with the expensive of getting resource consents. Picocell technology does an end-run around these.
Where consumers have a choice between fixed and mobile networks, they tend to choose mobile leaving fixed-line for things like bulk downloading of media content.
While Brewer’s post is speculative, there are some sharp minds at Vodafone who must have at least considered this approach. It will probably run into regulatory hurdles – New Zealand’s centre-right government is not keen on letting market competition make decisions about future telecommunications.
Nevertheless, for me this is a far more exciting prospect than waiting for a glass fibre to be strung down my road.