Woosh bullish about future

Wireless network operator says buying a fixed line reseller ISP isn't a step backwards

Wireless network operator Woosh’s purchase of ISP Quicksilver is a sign of the times and is only the first of many such changes, according to Woosh chief executive, Bob Smith.

Woosh will integrate the staff from Quicksilver, including founders Matthew Hobbs and Mark Frater. Smith expects there to be only one or two redundancies from Quicksilver.

Woosh has been seen as something of a lame duck after initial problems with its technology meant it couldn’t launch a voice service for nearly two years and low customer uptake saw a share float cancelled. Woosh has raised around $150 million in equity from its owners and was seen by many in the industry as providing competition in name only.

However with the purchase of Quicksilver, Smith says Woosh is preparing for the future and the new telco regime that is about to be introduced.

“The Quicksilver purchase means we can get national coverage via Quicksilver and still differentiate with our Woosh wireless service,” says Smith. He says he and hobbs will be working together to figure out how to offer bundles of services using both Woosh’s wireless network and Quicksilver’s wholesale service via Telecom’s network.

Smith says buying a fixed-line ISP doesn’t invalidate Woosh’s wireless network build.

“The telco environment has changed and Woosh has to keep up with that.” Smith says Woosh will be able to decide whether to service customers using its own wireless technology or via unbundled lines on Telecom’s network through Quicksilver.

“Ultimately we want to take that differentiator, which has always been that we’re a portable technology company, and make that into a mobile technology story.”

Smith also says he’ll be looking at the Ihug sale with interest. Ihug parent company, Perth based iiNet, put the country’s third largest ISP on the market last week and local interest has been great so far. IiNet says international interest was also a factor in the decision to sell the ISP.

Woosh’s chief financial officer, Gary Neil, says the purchase of Quicksilver and the sale of ihug are indicators that the new telco regime will see a huge shake-up of the New Zealand telecommunications market.

“Literally everyone is for sale. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, everyone in the market is up for sale.” Smith agrees, saying consolidation of the market is expected even beyond Ihug’s sale and Woosh expects to be a buyer as much as anyone else.

“It’s nice to be in the position of buying another company.”

Financial terms of the deal weren’t revealed. Woosh claims to have around 25,000 customers and Quicksilver around 10,000.

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