Walker hatching high-speed consumer product

Walker Wireless has joined the rush to provide high-speed Internet to the home, with a lower-cost wireless product likely to be bundled with an ISP service.

Walker Wireless is preparing a consumer and small office version of its high-speed wireless product.

The new product will be cheaper than Walker's existing business-oriented products, but, like them, it will offer two-way high-speed service.

It will be available for resale by any ISP, but Walker Wireless CEO Paul Ryan says the company is also "looking to bundle a product with an ISP service to make it easy for the customer to make a choice."

Ryan says Walker has been planning the new service for some time, but it appears that recent new offerings from Telecom, Ihug and Telstra Saturn with Chello have added some urgency to the launch.

"It's not necessarily a consumer product," says Ryan. "It's a product that consumers could access it, but it's also designed to fill what we see as a gap in the Soho market."

The charging model has not been confirmed yet, but Ryan says it is "likely to have some variable components in it - a free level, which is generous, and beyond that a small usage charge."

The product will be based mostly, but not exclusively, on the spread-spectrum technology Walker already uses. The company has invested heavily in infrastructure in recent months, buying switching gear from Cisco and nationwide frequencies in the 2.3GHz band from Canada's Craig Communications, and licensing 60 broadcast sites from TVNZ's transmission arm, BCL.

Ryan acknowledges that the high-speed Internet market has begun to heat up in recent weeks, but maintains that Walker's offering is attractive compared to the others.

"I wish I could get Chello in Auckland - or even in big parts of Wellington. HFC rollout is going to take a while, we all know that. In terms of the JetStream product or the new Ihug product - we're fast in both directions, which makes a big difference. People are starting to want to push a photo of the kids out to the grandparents, that sort of thing."

Walker's business products are capable of transmission speeds of up to 25Mbit/s, but Ryan won't say exactly where the new product will be pitched.

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