Telstra BigPond has finally entered the wireless broadband race just as competitor Unwired announced it had scored another $37 million in funding.
Telstra said this morning at a Sydney launch that its BigPond wireless broadband service would connect to the internet using its third-generation 1xEV-DO mobile network covering metropolitan Sydney, other capital cities and some regional areas.
Download speeds of up to 512Kb/s were offered, the company said.
Outside those specific areas, the service would revert to Telstra’s non-broadband CDMA1x network and slow to between 80Kb/s and 100Kb/s, Telstra said.
Users could buy a $199 modem with 12 month plans starting at $34.95 for 256Kb/s and 200MB of data through to $59.95 for 512Kb/s and 1GB of data. Excess use would cost 15 cents/MB, the company said.
Telstra also offered a $299 "Mobile Card" – like the one offered by Personal Broadband Australia’s iBurst service – with 12 month plans starting at $69.95 for a 256Kb/s link and 200MB of data up to $129.95 for a 512Kb/s link and 1GB of data. Using more would cost 30 cents/MB.
Justin Milne, managing director for BigPond, would not confirm expected customer numbers over the next 12 months.
However, Telstra was attracting 20,000 new customers a month to existing broadband plans and its wireless offering would interest people in country areas, as CDMA offered speeds twice that of dialup internet, Milne claimed.
The news comes as rival wireless broadband player Unwired announced $37 million in funding from Intel Capital.
Unwired said it would use the money to expand to other major cities.
That company signed up 25,000 customers by May this year. However, it is still bleeding cash with a negative net operating cash flow of $24.1 million reported for the 2004-05 financial year.
Unwired and Intel said they would jointly promote mobile wireless broadband capabilities using WiMAX networks.
Unwired would adopt future Intel products that supported the upcoming IEEE 802.16e standard for WiMAX. That standard would be deployed in notebooks and infrastructure equipment and should be ratified by the end of 2005, the company said.
David Spence, managing director at Unwired, claimed the wireless broadband provider would be in "the unique position" of having access to most of the WiMAX-designated 3.5GHz and 2.3GHz licensed bands of spectrum in Australia’s major metropolitan areas.
Unwired had also increased its download allowance on some plans. The entry-level $29.95 plan offered 300MB of data, up from 200MB. The Kick Start $34.95 plan offered 600MB, up from 400MB. Its Break Free plans offered 2GB, up from 1GB.