So far so good: Panel debates the current state of wireless broadband

Wired broadband players take note; wireless broadband is here and is offering a compelling service to customers, according to CEOs from three of Australia's most prominent wireless broadband providers.

In a panel debate at this year's CeBIT trade show in Darling Harbour, representatives from companies Big Air, Unwired and Personal Broadband Australia, discussed the ways in which their companies, as well as the market as a whole, is undergoing a radical shift as more and more people look for alternative Internet services.

"The great thing about our products is that they can be installed very quickly," said David Spence, CEO of Unwired. "In the case of the Unwired product you can go to Harvey Norman or Dick Smith, buy the product, take it home and in five minutes you're up and going on wireless broadband."

As well as the added convenience, there is the factor of mobility, and, as highlighted by Jason Ashton, Managing Director of BigAir, the potential for symmetrical bandwidth.

"It's the same speed up and down. A lot of business [are] looking to move to Voice over IP, which requires quality of service and business grade latency across the link and you just can't do that over an asymmetric DSL link," said Ashton.

With wireless plans working their way up towards 1Mbps, they are rapidly becoming a viable alternative regardless of whether you are a home Internet user or a high powered business, the panellists claimed.

Although today's panellists all provide some sort of wireless broadband, many of them cater to different consumers. Big Air, for example, largely services the business sector, whereas Unwired targets households, and Personal Broadband Australia focuses on mobile internet.

"We're definitely not competitive with David [Spence] or Jim's [Cooney, CEO of Personal Broadband Australia] business," said Ashton. "We see mobile broadband as very much a complementary service and a number of our customers have both."

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Andrew Kliem

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