Wireless broadband launched to Sydney's inner city

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A wireless ISP has launched with a commercial service targeting broadband black holes of inner-city Sydney, including the 38 percent of city-dwellers in flats.

A wireless ISP has launched with a commercial service targeting broadband black holes of inner-city Sydney, including the 38 percent of city-dwellers in flats.
Jason Ashton, of new Sydney-based wireless ISP BigAir, pointed out that multi-dwelling and multi-business buildings were becoming dominant in Australian cities but had been ignored by carriers and infrastructure providers.
'That might seem like a small part of the market but in fact it is becoming a majority of Sydney buildings, 38 percent of the market. In future, many people will be in apartments and with multi-tenanted buildings, we don't need to do any new wiring,' he said.
Surry Hills, in Sydney's inner east, had 12,000 residences and 4,500 businesses in that one postcode, many of which could not get broadband, he pointed out.
Broadband black holes - due to a lack of infrastructure - are prevalent in areas of high-density housing, but also in new suburbs on Sydney's fringes.
BigAir has base-stations in the inner-city suburbs of Surry Hills, North Sydney, Darling Point and Ultimo, but planned to extend its wholly-owned network across Sydney and eventually to other capital cities also, Ashton said.
'We're planning to have 10 base-stations, possibly more, by the end of the year,' he said.
Surveys had suggested, Ashton claimed, that 20 percent of residents in multi-dwelling buildings were prepared to sign up for broadband if it was made available.
'They say, "we'll buy it as soon as you install it",' he said.
However, apart from a few opportunities for system integrators or service providers in referring business, resellers would not be able to on-sell BigAir's services.
'There may be system integrators that will be referring its business, but there won't be any wholesale channels,' Ashton said.
Ashton, who was involved in the 1993 launch of early Australian ISP MagnaData, said BigAir aimed to tightly control service quality.
The BigAir service offers symmetric broadband - which has the same upload and download speed - via a wireless local loop using adjacent overlapping cells covering some 10 square kilometres per base-station.
'Then we distribute the broadband service through the building by 10/100Mb/s Ethernet. As an access layer, that is a great foundation for layering other services on top. There are no modems,' Ashton said.
The company claims to be fully-funded.
Ashton claimed the service was standards-based and technology-agnostic, providing an easier upgrade path since the network was not dependent on proprietary systems.
'We can upgrade a building's capacity literally in a couple of hours, just by changing the radio,' he said.
BigAir is targeting SMBs and home users in particular, offering symmetric DSL at 1Mb/s from $49.99 a month with 1,000MB free download and a professional install for $99, which Ashton said offered better value than many of the $29.95 offers at 256Kb/s advertised.
'I'm not a big believer in unlimited download ... We have plans with 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, which would suit most users,' Ashton said. 'If you need unlimited download, then you should get a low speed service from someone like Telstra.'


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