Vocus to Acquire Challenge Networks

Vocus has entered into an agreement to acquire Challenge Networks, focusing its strategy on providing secure and high-capacity connectivity to Australian enterprise and government customers through its extensive network infrastructure of national fiber, satellite, and now wireless.

Highlights

  • This expansion into wireless networks aligns with Vocus's USD 1 billion investment strategy.
  • Challenge Networks is a leader in private LTE/5G networks.
  • With the acquisition of Challenge Networks, Vocus will have the ability to construct more private LTE and 5G networks for its customers.

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Vocus to Acquire Challenge Networks

Vocus, Australia's specialist fibre and network solutions provider, announced that Challenge Networks, its long-time partner and a market leader in designing and deploying private mobile networks, will become part of Vocus. Vocus has entered into an agreement to acquire Challenge Networks, focusing its strategy on providing secure and high-capacity connectivity to Australian enterprise and government customers - wherever they are - through its national fibre, satellite, and now wireless network infrastructure.

This expansion into wireless networks aligns with Vocus's USD 1 billion investment strategy, which includes upgrading its existing network and deploying new fiber infrastructure, including the Horizon and Highclere projects in north west of  Australia.

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The acquisition follows the launch of Vocus Satellite - Starlink in December after Vocus signed a deal with Starlink to offer low earth orbit satellite (LEO) services to enterprise and government customers across Australia.

Challenge Networks

Challenge Networks is a leader in private LTE/5G networks, specialising in designing, deploying, and operating secure and reliable private 4G and 5G networks for customers who need high-capacity wireless coverage to support their operational technology (OT) needs on their premises.

Andrew Wildblood, Vocus Chief Executive – Enterprise & Government, said: "Challenge Networks' expertise in deploying private LTE is a perfect match for Vocus' extensive experience supporting Australia's government, defence, utilities, and resources sector customers with our fibre network and low earth orbit (LEO) satellite capability - both of which provide coverage in areas others don't."

"Through this acquisition, Vocus will be able to provide fibre or LEO satellite connectivity to the perimeter of a site, and then through a private LTE network, provide campus-wide wireless connectivity for applications such as autonomous vehicles, IoT sensors, building management systems, voice calls, push-to-talk devices, smartphones, tablets, and computers anywhere on the site."

Challenge Networks co-founder Simon Lardner will join the Vocus business along with Challenge Networks staff. Wireless industry veteran and Challenge Networks co-founder Jack Smyth will retire from the business.

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Mr Lardner said, "Private LTE and 5G puts the control, coverage, reliability and performance characteristics of mobile networks in the hands of companies that really need dedicated, mission-critical communication, without having to compete for network resources with public users."

"We design, build and operate networks that are well dimensioned for a site to give optimal coverage and performance – even in remote locations such as the Pilbara, or off-shore platforms at sea," he said.

Private LTE and 5G Networks as Fully Managed Service

With the acquisition of Challenge Networks, Vocus will have the ability to build more private LTE and 5G networks for its customers and offer a fully managed service, with service-billed basis rather than the customer funding the infrastructure. This acquisition will provide Vocus with a significant holding of the mobile spectrum, specifically concentrated in resource-rich geographic areas such as Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. This will allow Vocus to deploy private mobile networks to companies with operational technology needs in these regions quickly and with superior mobile service levels and bandwidth utilisation, bypassing regulatory delays.

Also Read: BSNL Partners With Echelon Edge for Setting up Private 5G Networks

Private Networks technology is ideal for industry sectors such as mining, oil and gas, public safety, defence, utilities and renewable energy. As part of its wider network and product offering, Vocus will now integrate full turnkey private mobile network capability, including site survey, spectrum planning, network design, RF engineering, vendor selection, procurement, delivery, acceptance testing and ongoing service operation and network assurance.

"Vocus is looking forward to extending our proven and consistent design methodology, providing engineering excellence and highly customised solutions into the mobile domain," said Andrew Wildblood.

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