Azure signs hotspot deal with Optus

In a further example of wireless consolidation, Melbourne-based ISP, Azure Wireless, has signed a new partnering deal with Optus.

This will see Optus add Azure's current national network of 450 Wi-Fi hotspots to its own list of 120 locations across Sydney and Brisbane.

Azure would secure current and future growth thanks to a sizeable new chunk of billable network traffic, Azure managing director, David Gold, said. "We have many corporate and ISP users but we didn't have a company the size of an Optus or Telstra," he said. "On top of Optus' Internet customer-base we also gain access to its mobile phone base - which is attractive because data-based services are also a growth area."

Acknowledging the deal was another example of market consolidation, Gold said it all came down to business models.

"A lot of businesses who originally made a land grab for chains and locations regardless of their profitability are no longer around," he said. "End-users also want full service providers rather a having to deal with a different provider for each service."

Being a pure-play wholesaler rather than a direct competitor to service providers had also helped Azure avoid being an acquisition target, Gold said.

Disputing recent reports questioning the viability of the public Wi-Fi hotspot market, Gold estimated Azure had grown its revenues by 400 per cent during the past year.

He said this was proof that the sector was still relevant.

"The whole market turned a corner in November thanks largely to the deep saturation of wireless notebooks," Gold said. "We are now adding an average of two hotspots a day, and services around VoIP and wireless gaming will continue to grow the market."

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