PBA bursts into the Gold Coast market

Personal Broadband Australia (PBA) has launched its Gold Coast wireless broadband network today, claiming it to be Queensland's first commercial mobile broadband service.The company is taking part in the Broadband Expo held in Gold Coast City this week, unveiling its already running wireless network today, and announcing its plans to have a similar service rolled out to Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra by the end of this month.

Personal Broadband Australia (PBA) has launched its Gold Coast wireless broadband network today, claiming it to be Queensland's first commercial mobile broadband service.

The company is taking part in the Broadband Expo held in Gold Coast City this week, unveiling its already running wireless network today, and announcing its plans to have a similar service rolled out to Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra by the end of this month.

PBA CEO, Jim Cooney, told ZDNet Australia yesterday that it will certainly "look at moving the [iBurst] service out to regional markets once the metro network has been established".

"We have a rollout plan for the major capital cities first that we need to adhere to, and once we establish a good quality of service then we can start looking at regional centres," he said.

Cooney said that currently around 25 percent of Brisbane is without any broadband Internet access at all, and as such the rollout of the iBurst network will give local Internet service providers a chance to cover the gaps.

"It's the same in most capital cities, ISPs can really use the opportunity to hit an untapped market," he said.

iBurst is a wholesale-only service that has was launched in Sydney last March as "Australia's first mobile broadband network", with its most well known national channel partner OzeMail signing up for distribution two weeks before its release.

Cooney said the company specifically chose not to offer connections to retail customers, as they wanted to "leave it to the specialists".

"Our prime focus ought to be operating the prime network and leave it to the ISPs to hand it out after that because that's their main purpose," he said.

According to Cooney, the recent launch of wireless broadband provider, Unwired, in Sydney has not hurt the company's business in the region, as he said "it has actually had a positive effect in making people more aware of wireless broadband."

"Competition in the space is great," he said. "Its stimulating demand and drives prices to where they ought to be. It makes the industry credible."

However, Cooney adds that he does not expect anymore competition in the wireless broadband space to emerge in the next few years.

"There are very limited numbers of technology worth experimenting with [for new wireless broadband networks], availability of spectrum also has to be considered," he said. "As far as I'm aware there are no more emerging technologies to consider."

Yet, Cooney adds that wireless broadband will, in the near future, be talked about in terms of replacing fixed line connections at home, in the same light that mobile phones are now being talked about as a home phone alternative.

"In a few years mobility will win out and wireless will become the more popular connection," he said.

Cooney said that pre-disposed apprehensions towards the reliability of wireless connections will be stamped out as people become more familiar with the technology.

"A lot of people have had a less than good experience with Wi-Fi so that gets transferred to their opinion on wireless," he said, adding that comparing the two is like comparing the range of a cordless phone to that of a mobile.

"If anything, there's evidence that wireless is more reliable than fixed line because there's no change over of company halfway through the line. It's a wireless last mile, there's no interference from someone else," he said.

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