Distributor slams rival’s tactics

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One wireless distributor has slammed a newcomer rival for listing products in its online catalogue that cannot be sold in Australia.

One wireless distributor has slammed a newcomer rival for listing products in its online catalogue that cannot be sold in Australia.
Ross Chiswell, CEO of Adelaide-based Integrity Data Systems (IDS), said a new entrant to the wireless hardware distribution game -- Sydney-based ComNet Solutions -- was advertising some products for sale that were illegal to sell in Australia.
'They need to be careful,' he said. 'One ... is a dual-band product that operates on the 5.3 GHz band, and you can't use that in Australia,' Chiswell said.
He said ComNet had seemingly copied and pasted the catalogue of its main US business partner ElectroComm, neglecting to weed out products disallowed from sale here.
'It's easy to buy from a company back in the US and distribute it here without dotting the i's and crossing the t's,' Chiswell said.
In particular, a Proxim Western Multiplex Tsunami wireless ethernet bridge, listed as part 27900-G1 offering 5.3/5.8 GHz at 480 Mb/s, was not permitted here, he said.
'This item is only available as a dual band product -- not either 5.3 or 5.8 GHz -- so can not be used in Australia,' Chiswell said. 'The 5.3 GHz bandwidth can't be used outdoors in Australia.'
He said the stipulation was related to a deal cut by the Australian government with the US defence department, which used that bandwidth for military purposes.
'These products have been available for years and we have talked to the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) about it, about being able to access or use this band,' Chiswell said.
Graham Goldfinch, product manager at ComNet, confirmed the Proxim bridge was illegal to use in Australia.
However, ComNet was using the website to advertise to potential overseas customers as well, he pointed out.
'We will be doing a roll-out in the Kingdom of Tonga, for example. But it is certainly, in terms of selling it in Australia, they would need to purchase spectrum [to use it],' Goldfinch said.
He said that no Australian client would be misled as to the applicability of the product here. Anybody who inquired about the Proxim bridge would be advised that it could not be used in Australia. ComNet would not sell it to Australian customers, he said.
'We've got to do that, because a lot of people haven't got a clue. Nine out of 10 who give us a call are just getting into [wireless] and so we help where we can,' Goldfinch said. '[The catalogue] is really only a pricing guide, not a pricing list.'
Some other dual-band products advertised – such as in the Trango wireless range -- could be used in either mode and thus could be used in Australia – as long as they were kept on 5.8 GHz mode, Goldfinch added.
IDS's Chiswell said the ACA seemed to prefer to leave it to the industry to self-regulate. However, this caused problems, especially when players did not know what was legal and what wasn't, he said.
'It's like in Melbourne. Some of the bandwidth, we can't use it because so much interference has been done in ... the regulations,' Chiswell said. 'One thing we've always wanted the ACA to do is have a bit like a [wireless] drivers licence, to say “yes, I understand the rules”.'
The ACA said in March that it had begun investigating the issue as a result of CRN's inquiries. However, ComNet's Goldfinch said this morning, 21 April, that the ACA had not yet contacted the distributor, which began specialising in wireless early this year.
No further comment from the ACA was available at press time.

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