Woosh buys ISP

Deal gives Woosh wired services to complement wireless one

Auckland wireless voice and data provider Woosh today announced it has bought Auckland ISP Quicksilver for an unspecified sum.

Quicksilver has some 10,000 customers and has been looking for capital to continue operating in the new regulatory environment created by Communications Minister David Cunliffe. Its chief executive, Matthew Hobbs, says Quicksilver is too small to access by itself the kind of capital needed to invest in network infrastructure.

Woosh chief executive Bob Smith says the deal means Woosh can now offer both wired and wireless services. It doesn't mean that the existing wireless service will cease, he says. Instead, Woosh will continue rolling out wireless cell sites for increased coverage.

Struggling to make headway with its wireless service, Woosh has been looking for ways to remain viable. After operating for three years and with over $130 million invested, Woosh only has around 15,000 customers.

To increase customer numbers, Woosh has lately started selling dial-up accounts together with its wireless service.

Another play by Woosh is to move to a WiMAX-based platform — instead of the proprietary TD-CDMA technology supplied by ipWireless — may have been sunk by the government. Woosh has two 8MHz bands in the unused 2.3GHz spectrum, and negotiated with Telecom for the usage rights to 30MHz of bandwidth in the same range.

The negotiations were successful, but shortly after their conclusion, the Ministry of Economic Development announced that it will take back the licensed spectrum and re-auction it because none of the current rights holders were using it. The MED intends to repackage the spectrum in wider frequency chunks to make it more suitable for WiMAX deployment. That won't happen until 2011, says Woosh.

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