RoamAD sells metro wi-fi to Perth ISP

Kiwi company transitions from carrier to vendor

Perth-based wireless network provider Metromesh has chosen Auckland's RoamAD to provide software for its wi-fi CBD network.

Metromesh plans to target the business user in the CBD area with a wi-fi service based on performance rather than over-subscription, says managing director Glenn Farrow.

"We don't plan on over-subscribing each [site] as we're going for the performance model. Business users are willing to pay for the service and don’t generally have time to wait to log on."

Farrow says the company chose RoamAD's technology after a seven-month assessment. "We trialled the technology as well and it fits very well with our plans."

Initially Metromesh will launch with 22 sites in the heart of Perth's CBD, but Farrow expects that to grow to around 70% of the CBD by the end of the year.

"Perth has a lot of joint venture companies and we've been inundated with requests from businesses who are in town to set up a deal and want access for a month or two at most."

RoamAD has undertaken something of a painful growth path, moving from being a wireless ISP itself, to selling hardware and software, to finally becoming a software vendor. Co-founder Martyn Levy says the company is now poised to become a world-wide scalable business.

"Most of our sales come from offshore these days. We're more well known outside New Zealand than we are locally."

Levy says the software that RoamAD sells allows vendors to use off-the-shelf hardware to provide a scalable, robust wi-fi network. Farrow says RoamAD's mesh network design will allow the company to deliver a higher value product to its customers.

"We can get up to 20 customers per radio rather than eight to ten without sacrificing performance."

Farrow says Metromesh is also keeping an eye on the WiMax standard and any upgrade for the network would be relatively inexpensive.

"It's just a software upgrade with some of the radio cards needing to be upgraded as well. But they're so cheap these days and the price keeps falling every day."

RoamAD sold its existing wireless network in Auckland to Reach Wireless in order to re-focus the business on its software development path. Reach continues to use RoamAD's mesh network software in central Auckland and on the Auckland University of Technology campus.

RoamAD has signed a distributor deal with Siemens to sell RoamAD's software in Asia, Europe and the US.

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