New direction for Wired Country

Compass Communications plans to take the wireless network beyond the Auckland region

The new owner of Auckland-based wireless network operator Wired Country has big plans to take the service to other main centres.

Compass Communications has bought Wired Country from electricity company Counties Power, which has decided to exit the telecommunications market.

Compass Communications’ chief executive Karim Hussona says Compass has retained part of Wired Country’s radio spectrum management rights and will use that to deliver fixed wireless service to smaller centres like Rotorua, Palmerston North and others.

“We already have a wireless service running in the unlicensed spectrum so we’re already operating in that space,” he says.

“But with the management rights we’ll be able to offer a better grade of service.”

Compass bought another wireless network operator, Radionet, in 2002 and integrated customers, services and staff into its operation. It hopes to do the same with Wired Country and will be offering jobs to all Wired Country staff, Hussona says.

“We’ll continue to offer the Wired Country service to those customers who already have it, either directly or through existing retail partners, but in future we will be targeting the SME market rather than mass consumer market.”

He says the ability to offer voice calls is key to the acquisition.

“We’re a voice company at our core and being able to deliver voice service over the network is very important to us.”

Counties Power has sold half its spectrum management rights to Telecom, subject to Commerce Commission approval.

“It’s really a win for all concerned. Telecom gets spectrum it wants, we get the service we want and Counties Power is assured that the broadband service base it’s built in for its own customers won’t be affected.”

Hussona says Compass will look closely at WiMax, the emerging standard for broadband wireless services, and says even with a reduced amount of spectrum Compass will still be able to take the service to a national audience.

WiMax can offer speeds of up to 70Mbit/s although real world speeds will be less.

Compass will also take over Wired Country’s Project Probe commitments in the Auckland region. Project Probe is the government’s plan to extend the reach of broadband into the regional and rural communities and Hussona says Wired Country is already well advanced with the Auckland region’s Project Probe rollout.

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