NetComm Wireless has outlined ambitious plans to target the 10% of the network access and termination market which large international vendors find too hard to service with off-the-shelf solutions.

Speaking with CommsDay, COO Timo Brouwer and CTO Steve Collins said the firm had scored significant business with NBN by customising fixed wireless and fibre to the pit solutions for its specific needs in the Australian environment. Now the firm is hoping to parlay its domestic success into a major presence on the global market.

Although the company would not confirm the information, CommsDay has learned that NetComm may soon announce a deal to supply its fixed wireless LTE solution to a top two US mobile operator for a rural deployment. NetComm has previously been negotiating with AT&T in regard to US government funded universal service wireless infrastructure.

The firm is expanding its European and North American staff count to assist with the expansion and is sponsoring a major broadband conference in Belgium next month that will feature many carrier prospects in attendance.

According to Collins, NetComm Wireless is collecting international kudos for its work with NBN in applying that network’s standard Layer 2 Ethernet platform over the Layer 3 IP platform native to LTE. “It’s an internationally unique solution,” Collins said, “but based on the Ethernet-ALA standard.” NetComm says its LTE solution is particularly attractive for wholesale operations as IP is problematic when multiple end access seekers are involved. “What we create is an effective tunnel from the core to the CPE. This has the effect of making the CPE a part of the network operation, extending the so-called trust zone from the base station to the end user,” Collins explained.

“This moves your smarts to the edge and allows you to have some assurance about what broadband experience is being delivered,” Brouwer added. “And this is the type of thing that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and its overseas equivalents would ultimately like to see.

”NetComm Wireless is also gearing up to provide distribution hubs to NBN for its FTTdp deployment, targeting about 700,000 premises in the Optus HFC footprint and areas that are low density for FTTN’s typical 200+ user per node profile. Collins told CommsDay that NetComm had designed the hubs – which will serve up to 4 users each– for NBN’s specific requirements, making them weather-proof as well as about half the size of international standard dimensions due to the small size of Australian pits.

It is NetComm’s ability to heavily customise solutions that Brouwer sees as its advantage in international markets. “We are not all things for all people. We are about the last ten percent who have requirements that cannot be built off the shelf,” he said.

NetComm now has about 150 engineers working on designing and testing its technology, about 30 of who are in Florida, USA. Collins said that the decline of the Australian telecom engineering ecosystem has led it to look offshore to supplement both its engineering ranks and to manufacture its product, made in China. However, it is working with local universities to boost its domestic smarts in the years ahead.

“We also operate our own test bed as there isn’t really anywhere in Australia which satisfies our needs,” he admitted.

A tour by CommsDay of its test facility revealed that both its fixed wireless and FTTdp products are subjected to a barrage of simulated heat, cold, moisture and water immersion conditions, and even power strikes – to simulate lightning.

Brouwer added that the company was careful not to buy into all the hype surrounding gigabit 5G and FTTX. “We are looking to do technology today that can be monetized according to the principles of ROI. We will end up with 5G and gigs in the future but what we need to do now is make things that are useful in today’s environment.”

Grahame Lynch

This article first appeared in CommsDay - ISSUE 5339 - 23 March 2017