PBA signs Harvey Norman

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Competition in the retail wireless broadband market is set to heat up with wholesale provider Personal Broadband Australia (PBA) striking an agreement with ISP Veritel to sell an iBurst wireless product bundle through Harvey Norman stores.

Competition in the retail wireless broadband market is set to heat up with wholesale provider Personal Broadband Australia (PBA) striking an agreement with ISP Veritel to sell an iBurst wireless product bundle through Harvey Norman stores.

PBA also intends to push similar offerings into other retailers such as Dick Smith and Bing Lee, stemming from a wholesale agreement with OzEmail signed in March this year.

On 1 December, 15 Harvey Norman stores in the Sydney metropolitan area and one store at the Gold Coast started selling iBurst access modems with Veritel's Freedom wireless broadband solution. Other stores in Brisbane and Melbourne will follow. Coverage has also been extended to Canberra this month.

Based on iBurst, it delivers 1Mb/s downstream and 345Kb/s upstream and operates on the 1.9Ghz spectrum.

PBA competitor, wireless ISP Unwired, struck a retail deal with Harvey Norman on 19 August.

John Filmer, marketing director at PBA, said the proliferation of laptops is signalling a trend towards mobility applications such as wireless broadband. He expected that the company could make about 20 percent of its sales through retailers within the next 12 months.

'We're optimistic – we've seen wireless product move off Harvey Norman shelves already,' Filmer said. He suggested that PBA was helping the 'broadband deprived' to get the broadband experience, and laptop users could 'exploit the fact that [they've] got seamless hand-off between base stations'.

The iBurst Access Card package will retail for $299 while the Access Bridge will retail for $199. Filmer suggested that prices would come down over time.

Meanwhile, under its new Alliance Partner Program, the company has struck agreements with network equipment makers D-Link, Netcomm and Netgear to use their channels and put wireless broadband bundles together for channel partners.

At the recent Intelligent Home Show, the company offered exhibitors free high-speed broadband access for the period of the show, Filmer said.

PBA has also established an alliance partnership with Fujitsu to promote Fujitsu laptops and tablets with iBurst connectivity.

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