RoamAD looks overseas for funding

Auckland-based wireless infrastructure company RoamAD is looking to the Asia Pacific market for funding and future development because of delays in fund raising here in New Zealand.

Auckland-based wireless infrastructure company RoamAD is looking to the Asia Pacific market for funding and future development because of delays in fund-raising here in New Zealand.

Chief executive Paul Stoddart says he'd hoped to have raised more capital in New Zealand already, but that the market is a tough one.

"There are limited funds available and they're really sitting on their wallets at the moment."

One point in RoamAD's favour, however, is its niche: mobile broadband.

"They've got venture capital for two things - biotechnology and mobile broadband."

However, in the meantime Stoddart has entered into discussions with an unnamed foreign investor and talks are "at a very advanced stage". RoamAD already has funding from local venture capital firm Solomon Capital Partners Limited. Solomon partner Martyn Levy is RoamAD's founder and chairman.

Stoddart says RoamAD plans to expand its Auckland demonstration network into a full commercial model, and to move into the Wellington and Christchurch markets in the future, starting with Wellington.

"Wellington is cheaper and more cost effective than Auckland because it already has that culture of broadband that means we don't have to convince anyone of the worth of broadband."

Stoddart firmly believes that users have learned to value mobility and broadband separately and that putting the two together is a great value proposition.

Competition in the mobile broadband space will be fierce, however, with both Telecom and Vodafone rolling out their new high-speed data networks, but Stoddart says RoamAD doesn't compete with those, rather it complements them.

"The case for dual mode laptops with a card capable of WiFi at 330 KBit/s that can roam to GPRS or whatever is a compelling one."

Stoddart expects to see the next generation of laptops and PDAs coming to market with built-in WiFI capabilities in the next 12 months.

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