Chariot hungers for wireless to reduce costs

Robert Horlin-Smith, the managing director of Adelaide-based ISP, Chariot, has said he won't be bound to third party providers and legacy costs such as Telstra's ULL.

Horlin-Smith made the comment while announcing his company's wireless and VoIP roll out was on track.

Although Chariot's core business is ADSL and dial up, it plans to increasingly rely on wireless to reduce legacy and dependency costs and then be able to offer better prices to customers and higher margins to resellers.

The provider is already delivering 3Mbps wireless services using Motorola's Canopy technology to customers in some suburbs of Adelaide and areas of regional Victoria with plans to move into the Melbourne metro area in the next couple of months.

"We will be offering wireless broadband to the Northern Rivers area between March and June and will then extend that radio network into Coolangatta and the Gold Coast where we have a number of current (dial up or ADSL) customers," Horlin-Smith said. "Then we will slowly creep up the east coast focussing on areas where we have pools of customers all the way to up to Cairns."

Chariot's wireless broadband operates on line-of-sight and near-line-of-sight tower antennae, providing access within a 20-30km range. The roll out has been facilitated by Chariot's acquisition last year of Melbourne base wireless internet infrastructure company Omninet.

The provider, in conjunction with Transcom, plans to offer VoIP over its wireless infrastructure as soon as March. Trials are in their final stages at the moment.

"We will offer resellers good incentives in both wireless and VoIP," Horlin Smith said.

"We will migrate our 'Buddy' connect dial up incentive [where resellers receive a $20 incentive kickback for each new customer] to wireless and VoIP, as it was very successful," he said.

In conjunction with his appetite for wireless, Horlin-Smith is hungry for more acquisitions this year to help grow the company's customer base, although he assured shareholders at last year's annual general meeting that he would only acquire ISPs that could deliver immediate bottom line benefits and more than 50,000 additional customers.

Last year, Chariot acquired Newcastle-based CNN Internet, Adelaide-based Airnet, Melbourne-based Alphalink and Omninet. It increased its broadband customer base from 3000 to 14,000 and expects to have 20,000 broadband customers by June this year.

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