Ihug is likely to join the growing list of ISPs reselling access to Walker Wireless' high-speed services.
Ihug has until now dismissed the kind of spread-spectrum service (which uses public frequencies) that Walker is offering, but Ihug director Tim Wood says the 50 transmission sites Walker has licensed from BCL and Walker's solutions for capacity issues on spread-spectrum make it an attractive option.
The Walker solution also gets around the interference problems Ihug's own SatNet system has suffered in the Auckland CBD, but Wood says it is not a substitute for SatNet in the company's long-term plans.
Price is one issue. Where SatNet service capable of up to 1Mbit/s starts at $70 a month downstream, with a standard dial-up return path, Walker wholesales a 64Kbit/s two-way service to ISPs at around $320 a month, going up to a 2Mbit/s service at around $920 a month. Wood says Ihug has yet to negotiate its own bulk pricing.
"At this stage the pricing structure is more for commercial use," says Wood. "It's going to be good for us in some of those downtown urban areas where we've been getting a bit of interference from cellular services. It's not a problem with SatNet in the suburbs, it's just when you get reflections off buildings or you're right by cellsites.
"We can do the same stuff, we've got equipment that does spread-spectrum and we've been playing with it for years, but there's no real point in us going around and putting up 50 sites. Walker's system looks pretty well put together."
Walker also appears far more amenable to slicing and dicing of its broadband services than Telecom. Whereas reselling Telecom's JetStream ADSL product means taking Telecom international bandwidth into the bargain, Walker allows ISPs to do their own provisioning. ISPs reselling the service already include Iconz, Iprolink, Attica, Esurf and the South Island's Futurenet.
Wood says it will even be possible to use SatNet downstream and a Walker service as a return path, providing a cheaper option for business service than a Telecom DDS.
Walker's aim to rival Telecom in broadband data services was also bolstered this week when it announced it was to buy Cisco's Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology for its wireless network, giving it the ability to deploy a range of services, including virtual private networks and voice over IP. Telecom last week confirmed its own multi-million dollar investment in the same switch technology, which Cisco regards as a carrier-class solution.