19/06/2010

Freedom4 gets sold to UK BroadbandFreedom4 was one of the two operators in the UK with licensed spectrum that were trying to operate a WiMAX network who were sold to the second operator UK Broadband (a subsidiary of PCCW which is owned by Hong Kong Telecom) for £12.5m. The sale came about as Freedom4 was involved in a reverse takeover of Vialtus which later became part of Daisy Telecom, but WiMAX was not part of Daisy's core business.

Freedom4 was one of the two operators in the UK with licensed spectrum that were trying to operate a WiMAX network who were sold to the second operator UK Broadband (a subsidiary of PCCW which is owned by Hong Kong Telecom) for £12.5m. The sale came about as Freedom4 was involved in a reverse takeover of Vialtus which later became part of Daisy Telecom, but WiMAX was not part of Daisy's core business.

Freedom4 used to be what was known as Pipex Wireless, which was separated from the Pipex group when Pipex was sold to Tiscali and became Freedom4 (with some cash from Intel Capital). Freedom4 has two blocks of 84MHz of spectrum in the 3.6GHz t0 4.2GHz bands while UK Broadband has spectrum in the 3.4GHz band.

WiMAX has not faired particularly well in the UK. It was meant to be the saviour in terms of rural broadband but backhaul costs have limited the size of the WiMAX wireless roll-outs (combined with BT installing wired broadband to most parts of the country) so the costs of wireless have tended to be greater than those of wired broadband and the wireless speeds have not been that great.

UK Broadband may be able to leverage the assets of both companies and now use WiMAX for both end-user connections and for wireless backhaul reducing their need for expensive wired connectivity between sites.

The great hope for WiMAX was the auctioning of the 2.6GHz band which was initially meant to take place in 2007 but has been hampered with regulatory issues and is now unlikely to be available before 2011. There was speculation that BT would bid for this spectrum to offer 3G services in urban areas and WiMAX wireless broadband to the rural areas. This is now less likely to be attractive in terms of WiMAX anyway as LTE (a 4G technology) is likely to be prevalent before the spectrum is actually made available.
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