BigAir aims high-speed wireless at big business

While many broadband ISPs eagerly follow the progress of ADSL technology to even greater upload and download speeds, wireless broadband has been left in the dark, according to BigAir CEO, Jason Ashton.

"Wireless broadband is an attractive alternative, it just hasn't had the same time to mature in the marketplace that DSL has," he said.

Ashton said that wireless broadband was "perfectly positioned" as a business-grade service because of its independence from Telstra networks and its symmetrical broadband capability that can reach up to 100Mbps both up and downstream.

"We are much better positioned than ADSL2+ providers because of their dependence on ACIF and Telstra, he said. "On top of that, they're boasting about offering 2.5Mbps upload speed [known as Annex M] which has been our entry level service for ages."

BigAir targets businesses that require high-speed symmetrical broadband. The company provides wireless plans with speeds ranging from 2 to 100Mbps.

"It's taken some time to get traction and to raise awareness of wireless technology but the response we're getting from the business market has been great," Ashton said.

BigAir currently has 8000 subscribers and plans to boost that number in the next financial year with expansions into Adelaide, Perth and Tasmania.

"Because we target the business end of town, it makes our deployment plans much simpler. We're not required to go everywhere to reach our customers," he said.

A recent Whirlpool Australian Broadband Survey, conducted between December 2005 and January this year received 16,590 responses, and reiterated wireless's growing popularity. Some 55.7 percent of respondents said a wireless broadband offering would be useful while 82 percent believed that ISPs should be less reliant on Telstra's network.

"Wireless broadband is attractive because it's independent from Telstra, but the key point is that people are prepared to pay a premium for wireless because they get mobility and speed," Ashton said.

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Mitchell Bingemann

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