CommsDay reports that Vodafone Australia is considering an alliance with regional wireless ISPs.

Wireless ISPs or wisps provide local wireless broadband. Most operate in areas the big carriers find uneconomic to service. They might connect a handful of properties further up a valley, or behind a range of hills.

You can take it as read one or more of New Zealand’s mobile carriers have considered a similar alliance here. There are discussions and deals between carriers and wisps.

Carrier-Wisp resource sharing could happen with official blessing as part of RBI2. The idea of devices being able to hand-off from a wisp to a cellular network is attractive to many users. And there are places where wisps already have informal arrangements with carriers. Some act as resellers.

Australian spectrum

The situation in Australia is different. At least for now. There is talk in that country of reallocating spectrum in preparation for 5G mobile networks.

The Australian Communication and Media Authority wants to optimise some frequencies used by wisps for fixed and mobile spectrum. Its logic is that this would be a “higher value use” of the resource.

In other words, spectrum used by Australian Wisps may be packaged up and resold to mobile carriers.  Australia’s authorities may see that as better for the wider economy. The wisps aren’t happy about the idea, but Australia’s government has a track record of this kind of market interference.

There is scope for other co-operation between New Zealand carriers and wisps or other regional players. One area of the market that has never caught on in a big way here is mobile virtual network operators. That is where a carrier licenses its network to another player. The most visible MVNO example in New Zealand is Warehouse Mobile, it piggybacks off the 2degrees network.

Bigger wisps, or a consortium of wisps, could find value in an MVNO deal.

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