Telecom readies wireless broadband for hinterland

Expect a wireless battle for New Zealand's heartland come November. Telecom plans to launch a version of its JetStream fast internet service over BCL's wireless network in 28 regions from November 1.

Expect a wireless battle for New Zealand's heartland come November.

Telecom plans to launch a version of its JetStream fast internet service over BCL's wireless network in 28 regions from November 1, probably called Wireless JetStream and available only through its own ISP, Xtra.

Telecom appears to be sticking to its existing branding with the Wireless JetStream moniker, although public affairs manager John Goulter says the final decision has yet to be made. The name appears on Telecom's website in a document that says the service will only be available through Xtra. Telecom resells its ADSL-based broadband product JetStream through most other ISPs while Mobile JetStream is the name for its CDMA-based cellular network.

Telecom was the first company to sign an agreement with BCL, the state-owned wireless infrastructure company, to resell its wireless broadband service to end users. Ihug and ICONZ have both signed up since and are to trial services in Taranaki and Southland before also rolling out with BCL's network in November.

The plans take place as the government gets set to announce the remaining successful bidders in its Project Probe rural broadband initiative. So far the Walker Wireless/Vodafone partnership has won three tenders that were awarded separately to the rest of Project Probe, which is particularly intended to increase broadband uptake outside metropolitan areas.

Telecom's rural segment marketing manager, Sam Irving, says trials in Taranaki and Southland of Wireless JetStream have progressed well and the company is now well advanced in its planning for a commercial launch.

"We haven't set pricing and the model itself yet. We'll be announcing that closer to the launch, I would expect." Irving does say pricing would "be in line" with JetStream pricing, although that is also expected to be revamped in the coming weeks.

Irving says the rural market is diverse and being able to mix the Wireless JetStream product with both fixed line and satellite offerings is a compelling business case.

"There are all sorts of people out there [in the rural market] from schools and lifestylers, all sorts. Then you go right through the small business market and the medium and there are even corporate tails in a number of these places, banks and various other organisations."

Telecom is also exploring offering voice services and possibly even video over BCL's network, but not initially.

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