ComNet shows its cards in wireless push

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Small Sydney distributor ComNet Solutions has begun a major push into wireless, signing a three-year deal with US giant Electro-Comm - one of the largest wireless products distributors in the world.

Small Sydney distributor ComNet Solutions has begun a major push into wireless, signing a three-year deal with US giant Electro-Comm - one of the largest wireless products distributors in the world.

Bernd Ruser, marketing manager at Castle Hill-based ComNet, said Electro-Comm was certainly the largest company of its kind in the US and probably the world.

"They're the largest in the US and they are starting to set up offices around the world, but we're going to distribute in Australia [and New Zealand] for them," he said.

ComNet's new strategy was to diversify the type and amount of wireless products on the Australian market, partly via an Electro-Comm mainline, he said.

While other specialist wireless distributors existed -- such as Adelaide's Integrity Data Systems -- ComNet would provide a wider range and thus more reseller choice, Ruser said.

"[Integrity Data Systems] tends to concentrate on its specialised products ... It provides one of everything," he said.

Ruser said it was "hard" to estimate how much ComNet could earn from the deal but the market for wireless products in Australia was on the verge of exploding. Wireless supply in Australia would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, "without any doubt", he said.

"It's all being driven by ... broadband services," he said. "Look at companies like Unwired, who have just spent $35 million just wiring up a little part of Sydney."

Wireless broadband still needed cabling and other types of hardware, and those that got into the market early were likely to reap the greatest rewards, he said.

Ruser compared the wireless market today with the early 1990s internet boom. He said that ComNet in those days had benefited by entering the market earlier than many players, providing hardware to new ISPs. But as time went on, the bottom had begun to drop out of the market as it stabilised, he said.

"We've been around. We always intend to get into things when they start to happen. Once it becomes very much a commodity, then it becomes a Harvey Norman type of product," Ruser said.

ComNet would keep running its other lines of business for the meantime. However, the company expected to focus increasingly on wireless and might eventually commit entirely to its wireless range, he said.

ComNet, owned and managed by founder Charles Galliano, opened its first, and today only, office in Sydney in 1989. It used to have a Queensland office but that had closed for "personal reasons", Ruser said.

Ross Chiswell, CEO at Integrity Data Systems, was contacted for comment but had not replied at press time.

Graham Goldfinch, a product manager at ComNet, said that Electro-Comm opened in the US some 25 years ago. The company is a wholesale distributor of wireless products for the two-way radio, broadband wireless, wireless internet service provider, cellular telephone and remote control and data acquisition industries.

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