EnergyAustralia backflips on WiMAX plans; to roll out LTE technology with Ericsson

In what underscores EnergyAustralia's backflip on plans to build a WiMAX wireless broadband network, the energy utility recently announced that it has teamed up with Ericsson to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology as part of its smart grid deployment.

EnergyAustralia - which is responsible for running the Federal Government's $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City trial across New South Wales (NSW) - announced that it has inked a $12 million deal with Ericsson.

Under the terms of the deal, Ericsson will provide equipment, software and services to operate the network as per the requirements of the energy utility. In other words, the LTE portion of the network will be implemented and serviced by Ericsson.

Earlier, in May, EnergyAustralia had announced the construction of a private WiMAX network, which is still in construction. However, with the recently-announced shift to fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband technology LTE, the utility intends starting the trial of the technology across 15 of 150 sites from next year. These sites span across NSW, including Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter region.

Noting that EnergyAustralia will eventually move entirely to LTE, replacing current WiMAX towers as they age, the utility's managing director George Maltabarow said: "The 4G network will transmit data between 12,000 smart monitoring devices [such as smart meters], up to 3000 mobile field computers and 200 major zone substations."