Woosh happy without unbundling

Woosh CEO Bob Smith says the company's position on unbundling the local loop hasn't changed.

Woosh CEO Bob Smith says the company's position on unbundling the local loop hasn't changed.

“We’re opposed to it. We believe that in a market where competition is working, less regulation is the way to go.”

Communications minister Paul Swain is reported to have last week briefed a cabinet committee on the issue before making an expected recommendation against compelling Telecom to open its last-mile network to competitors.

A wireless broadband service provider, Woosh, has been offering services in Auckland since late last year and claims to be “fast approaching” 5000 customers.

It plans to offer services in the Wellington CBD from May 24, and in Christchurch the following month.

However, potential Wellington customers don’t appear to be queuing up for Woosh’s 256kbit/s service.

Government agencies in particular appear to be well set up with high-speed infrastructure and/or not to have staff members who roam enough away from the office to use the unique features of wireless.

“We have no real business need [for it],” says Customs CIO Peter Rosewarne.” We have a fairly good infrastructure already.

“I regard it is a technology yet to be proven,” he says, echoing others. Concerns seem to centre particularly around security.

Steve Cuvlevski of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce notes that there is already a strong, mature infrastructure around central Wellington in the form of Citylink and its wireless arm, CafeNet.

“Some of our members could be interested in it if it’s cost-effective — and it looks as though it might be. But there’s still some paranoia about the security, with stories you hear of people roaming the area with laptops picking up insecure signals.”

Web design company DesignX spokesman Mike Ellis was not familiar with Woosh, looked at its website and came away quite impressed.

“But I don’t know we’d have a use for it at the moment,” he says. “We don’t do a lot of [digital] work outside. In the office, we’re on Citylink; it’s bundled into our rent.”

Citylink’s Neil deWit doesn’t consider Woosh a threat. “They aren’t a broadband provider. Links of a few hundred kbits[/s] are not a part of the market we’re even seeking to be in. I’d regard them as broadband educators; what you use to learn on before you’re ready to cut over to real broadband. No, I welcome them.”

Woosh’s uncapped offering costs $54.95 a month while a service with a 1GB traffic limit costs $39.95.

Woosh marketing manager Sandra Geange says the company is being chosen by 30% to 40% of new broadband subscribers in areas where it is competing with Telecom directly. Smith says that proves there’s no need for unbundling.

“Infrastructure-based competition is good. It gives the consumer real choice rather than just the same old, same old from different vendors. Since Woosh entered the market we have strong competition and that’s what we should be striving for.”

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