Vocus completes acquisition of private LTE/5G network provider Challenge Networks

Vocus, Australia’s specialist fibre and network solutions provider, has completed the acquisition of long-time partner Challenge Networks, a leading provider of private LTE and 5G networks.

Vocus Chief Executive, Enterprise & Government, Andrew Wildblood said, “I’m thrilled that now with Challenge Networks part of Vocus, more customers can now benefit from the deep expertise in designing, building, and managing private LTE and 5G networks.”

The team has extensive experience in constructing greenfield networks for the mining industry, having completed private LTE and 5G networks for Australia’s leading resources companies and over 20 other networks globally.

“Customers now have the ability to deploy private LTE/5G networks linked to Vocus’ national fibre and low earth orbit satellite networks,” Mr Wildblood said. “This can be matched with data centre hosting, managed security services and wide area connectivity of multiple sites, for fully managed solutions,” he said.

Vocus customers will have the option to fund their private LTE/5G network through a subscription fee akin to a mobile plan, rather than having to cover the capital cost of network construction upfront.

Vocus welcomes industry veteran Simon Lardner

The Challenge Networks team joins Vocus’ Enterprise & Government group, to be led by General Manager, Government and Strategic Projects, Michael Ackland, with mobile industry veteran Simon Lardner continuing to lead the Challenge Networks team.

Extensive mobile spectrum assets

Private LTE and 5G mobile networks require dedicated mobile spectrum in the areas they operate. This can be a challenge for customers working with vendors who have the network technology but no spectrum.

Customers of Challenge Networks benefit from its holding of mobile spectrum – one of Australia’s largest – across Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory, where Australia’s resources industry operates.

This allows Vocus to build mobile networks for customers with minimal delay, avoiding the difficulties associated with accessing mobile spectrum.

The advantage of private LTE/5G over Wi-Fi

Although Wi-Fi is an excellent technology in many environments, it can be expensive to deploy across very large special purpose sites like mines, airports, military bases, and transport corridors.

Challenge Networks offers a more cost-effective and reliable alternative for customers which have previously deployed a fleet of trailers with solar panels, batteries, Wi-Fi access points, and the necessary physical security to protect them. Such fleets can be expensive to maintain and do not always provide the manageability needed to operate critical production sites.

In comparison, private mobile networks can be provided across an entire site from one or just a few mobile towers, usually providing a significantly lower cost overall for the solution.

Private mobile networks are also stable, predictable, and offer enhanced performance and service characteristics. Using licensed mobile spectrum and SIM card access control, bandwidth can be monitored and controlled in real time.

Industries that will benefit from private mobile networks

Private LTE/5G technology has been proven to be ideal for sectors such as mining and resources where the sites can be vast and in remote areas poorly served by other networks.

A growing range of other sectors including public safety, defence, utilities, logistics and renewable energy, are also turning to private LTE/5G technology to take advantage of its many benefits over other networks.

Additionally, Vocus Satellite – Starlink can be used to provide backhaul to a private mobile network, with fibre-like performance anywhere in Australia.

Pictured above, Simon Lardner, Head of Wireless Business, Challenge Networks

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