BigAir floats high; to wholesale

BigAir is floating high this week, forecasting a 100 per cent increase in revenue and announcing plans to launch a wholesale side of its business.

The wireless provider this week announced revenue forecasts for the year ending 30 June to exceed $6.5 million, more than 100 per cent over last financial year's revenue.

BigAir CEO, Jason Ashton said that a number of recent successes contributed to the revenue increase.

"There's a lot of attraction to the wireless market now. We have access to the three wireless networks in Sydney - our own high speed fixed wireless network, the iBurst mobile wireless network and we also have access to Unwired's portable wireless, so we are well positioned," he said.

There are over 8000 subscribers on the BigAir network now compared to 3945 subscribers in July last year. According to Ashton, there is an even mix of business and residential subscribers and revenue is evenly shared between the fixed and mobile services.

Following the ASX listing last month which raised $7.5 million for the company, Ashton said he will focus on accelerating organic growth, but is also assessing a number of acquisitions to help expand the BigAir network into other capital cities across Australia.

The company is also expanding its corporate sales team and launching a new wholesale strategy for its wireless local loop services.

"Our last mile network is the ideal alternative to Telstra's copper - especially given the uncertainty that surrounds Universal Local Loop pricing today and the challenges facing the ADSL reseller market," said Ashton.

"BigAir's 'fibre in the sky' service bypasses the Telstra network completely and is suitable for potential carrier partners for high-speed data, VoIP and video services."

The company has hired consulting firm Marketology, to help build the wholesale side of its business as quickly as possible.

"We've already kicked off discussions with potential carrier partners because we want to offer the service to carriers as well as resellers and integrators," he said.

Bruce Ind, who currently manages BigAir's retail distribution to Harvey Norman and Domain, will be involved in heading up the wholesale business.

"We will definitely be looking to hire more people to help resource it," Ashton said.

Ashton told ARN in April that he was looking to boost channel sales to at least 40 per cent of the overall business.

"That is still the case. We're very bullish about the channel and we're excited about the chance to work with the channel more formerly. We have had a number of integrator partners such as Ethan Group, that we have enjoyed working with, but we've never properly resourced the wholesale part," he said.

"So we will be running training seminars, putting together a bunch of resources and basically educating people about what we can offer in wireless broadband services - both our high speed fixed network and also our iBurst solution."

Ashton also said he is considering applying for some of the Connect Australia funding, but has not made any firm decision.

"The regional broadband opportunity that the government is assisting is great. One of the biggest problems for telco's servicing regional areas is the backhaul cost. That really hampers deployment of wireless broadband, because we can build a network that covers Goulburn or Dubbo for very low cost compared to copper but the problem is how to haul it all back to Sydney, as we would have to go back on to Telstra's network or maybe Optus, neither of which are cheap," he said.

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