Hugh Bradlow’s article in Crikey on Wednesday was just one more example of Telstra attempting to spread doubt about fixed wireless technologies to protect its own legacy copper network and its very expensive new 3G network.

Fibre To The Node (FTTN) is a great idea. And it would be great if $4bn meant that it could be available to everyone in Australia because for the people in areas where this is available, it will deliver great increases in bandwidth. Due to the distances involved in regional areas FTTN is not a cost effective solution, and will not be a viable option unless the future fund is significantly increased.

However, for people in areas that FTTN is not available, which is around 15% of the country, fixed wireless technologies provide an alternative that has the potential to deliver broadband services at speeds capable of supporting voice, video and data content more quickly and cost-effectively than fixed line services such as ADSL, ADSL2+, VDSL2+.

That Telstra failed to point out, and would prefer people didn’t realise (and the bottom line of the whole fixed vs wireless debate), is that fixed wireless solutions are a true and competitive alternative to fixed line services: they can and do provide speeds in excess of 10Mbps and provide ubiquitous service across an area.

How do we know this? Because we own and operate Australia’s largest business wireless network and have done so for 5 years. Because we provide wireless broadband to thousands of business customers every day. With guaranteed network uptime of 99.9% backed by service level agreements. Our customer verticals include medical (inc. hospitals), manufacturing and mining, agriculture, FMCG and large media organisations that rely on these networks. We also provide wholesale network services to a number of Australia’s tier one telcos.

Clever Communications’ network is based on fixed wireless (WiMAX) technology which has proven deployment speeds of in excess of 20Mbps over a 15Km range: something that HSDPA and Mobile WiMAX have yet to match. Something Telstra also forgot to explain is that, just like mobile WiMAX, technologies such as its own Next-G network which is based on the HSDPA technology, are a shared medium, and, as such will be faced with the same challenges as mobile WiMAX.

Fixed wireless technologies have been well proven and are expanding rapidly in Australia in both the regional and metropolitan areas, and are proving serious alternatives to fixed line services which in many cases are now becoming inadequate due to the need for greater speeds. It must be noted that the industry’s most successful and cost effective delivery mechanisms for content such as video and TV have been using wireless technologies whether they be satellite or terrestrial.

To answer Telstra’s question: Why would you choose to deploy a wireless network when a wired one is available? Well, because it offers a proven yet cheaper alternative that is faster to deploy, enables faster access to high-speed broadband for regional and rural areas, and since you don’t have to dig up the ground, has less impact on the environment.