Woosh delays voice rollout to Q3

Woosh Wireless appears to have dumped plans to launch its voice over IP service and will instead be offering voice delivered over a separate dedicated channel by the third quarter of the year.

Woosh Wireless appears to have dumped plans to launch its voice over IP (VoIP) service and will instead be offering voice delivered over a separate dedicated channel by the third quarter of the year.

Woosh, formerly Walker Wireless, has been building its wideband CDMA network in Auckland and has plans to launch in both Wellington and Christchurch this year. Woosh has also won several Project Probe broadband tenders from the government and is working to offer service in those areas as well.

However its voice plans have been plagued with difficulty, leading to several delays in commercial availability.

At its launch in November last year, Woosh CEO Bob Smith told Computerworld the company would be launching VoIP services before the end of 2003. That deadline passed with no sign of a voice service, and Woosh chairman Rod Inglis told the New Zealand Herald in January that service would begin “in the next two months”.

Woosh’s general manager for sales and marketing Sandra Geange says testing on the product is proceeding well, however the April deadline may have been too aggressive.

“We don’t want to build up expectation too much so it’s probably safe to say we will be looking to offer voice service in the third quarter this year.”

Geange says the company has decided to step over current voice technology and move to a newer standard to offer added functionality from day one.

“The network team leaves for the UK this week and they’re going to be working very closely with [technology partner] IP Wireless on a number of issues.” Geange says voice will be one of those issues.

Woosh service has also been plagued by latency issues and Woosh has deliberately not targeted the game-playing market segment because of that. Latency is of concern with VoIP services as well, and Geange says by offering a separate dedicated channel for voice only, Woosh will be able to avoid those issues.

“We’re working on latency issues as well to try to bring down the delay to a more acceptable level. Obviously this is a big issue for gamers and we see them as a key part of our early-adopter market.”

Woosh’s Project Probe rollout in Southland also includes free voice calling between Woosh subscribers.

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