Nextep builds unlimited Optus 3G data service

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Nextep builds unlimited Optus 3G data service

But no details on mechanics and price.

Nextep has extended its transparent LAN private network product with unlimited 3G access from Optus at a price it claims will be "not too dissimilar" from buying business-grade ADSL services.

The wholesale service provider, owned by NEC Australia, said the addition is the result of eight months of work with Optus.

Nextep director of sales and marketing, Peter Neatnica, said Optus was selected over rivals for its willingness to collaborate on early-stage development and testing of the service.

Called 3GConnect, the service means users can securely access their company's network resources - not just email and the internet - over a fixed or wireless connection, depending on where they happen to be.

The 3G service also operates in a similar fashion to a fixed connection, in that bandwidth is unlimited and the cost is a set monthly fee.

"It should be looked at in the same way as you would order a fixed line service - the only difference is that [the access technology is] wireless," Neatnica said.

"It applies the same corporate access principles at the desktop to the mobile environment."

The offer is potentially a major shift in thinking on wireless broadband services.

Carriers have traditionally rejected unlimited 3G plans because data can cost up to five times more than if it were transmitted over an ADSL connection.

Neatnica was coy about prices. As a wholesaler, Nextep's systems integrators and resellers will set their own prices for the service.

"I assume they will price it not too dissimilar to how they price ADSL services," he said.

"The reseller margin should be anywhere between 25 and 50 points in mark-up, depending on the value they add on."

Data that is carried over the Optus 3G network will run in a separate partition to the part of the network devoted to residential access.

But Neatnica said Nextep would be unable to guarantee the same quality-of-service experienced over a fixed line connection.

"We don't go through the residential part of the Optus network, we go through the business portion," he said.

"We would expect to see better performance [on our service] than someone connecting into their VPN using the residential part [such as an Optus dongle], but then it comes down to factors like load on the cells.

"We can't guarantee the same performance levels as customers experience with fixed line corporate access but we have service level agreements in place with Optus [in case of downtime]," Neatnica said.

The service launched today and already has several customers, Neatnica said.

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