Personal Broadband gets funding boost, new CEO

Personal Broadband Australia (PBBA) has secured a further $12 million in investment funding from an Australian shareholder to expand its Sydney-based commercial wireless broadband service along the east coast.

The equity funding boost, provided by existing Australian PBBA shareholder Jim Cooney, means PBBA will now operate as a majority Australian-owned company. PBBA was previously majority owned by US technology group, ArrayComm.

As part of the new investment plan, Cooney has been appointed CEO of PBBA, effective immediately. He replaces former CEO, Charles Reed, who will remain at the company as an adviser.

Cooney, who has served as a director of PBBA since September 2002, boasts of a strong history in the telecommunications industry, including the role of national design and build manager at Vodafone Australia. Most recently, he founded systems integration company Total Communications Infrastructure in Australia in 1996 and in the UK in 1998.

Cooney said the latest investment into PBBA tied in with the company’s plan to expand its service right across the Australian continent. “We had always planned to raise funds as the network roll-out expanded; when we needed it,” he said.

PBBA received its first capital funding boost in March last year, when Mitsubishi and e-millennium Asia L.P invested $14 million to support the company’s phase one testing.

Cooney said PBBA had already started working on a third round of capital fundraising, to allow the company to extend its service to all eight major cities around Australia. This round of funding was expected to be a mix of debt and equity.

Other current PBBA shareholders include: ArrayComm, Mitsubishi Corporation Japan, Mitsubishi Australia and Kyocera Cooperation Japan. Cooney said there were no plans to publicly list PBBA on the Australian stock exchange.

PBBA’s wholesale wireless broadband service is now available to consumers in Sydney via several service providers, including distributors SecureTel, Mobile Broadband and Veritel.

The service is based on the wireless technology, iBurst, developed by ArrayComm.

While the high-speed service is designed for both home and enterprise users, Cooney said PBBA was in discussions with several channel partners. Its aim was to push the PBBA service into the corporate market.

“We need a broadband range of channel partners to cover the market vertically,” he said. “We’d like to appeal to a corporate customer base, which will take a mix of resellers.”

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

PC World
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