Unwired throws down gauntlet on broadband customer takeup

Wireless broadband company Unwired said today it had secured 17 percent of new Sydney residential retail broadband customers for the period 1 August to 31 December 2004, underlining the threat it poses to fixed-line rivals such as Telstra and Optus.

Wireless broadband company Unwired said today it had secured 17 percent of new Sydney residential retail broadband customers for the period 1 August to 31 December 2004, underlining the threat it poses to fixed-line rivals such as Telstra and Optus.

In a statement issued to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) this morning, Unwired said it had signed up 13,766 Sydney residential retail broadband customers for the period 1 August to 31 December, 17 percent of the total market in the NSW capital as claimed by tech researchers International Data Corp (IDC). Unwired launched its services commercially on 19 August last year.

Unwired chief executive officer David Spence said the company's customer takeup to date "clearly demonstrates that wireless broadband is not a niche technology, but a serious competitor to existing broadband technologies.

"This is further substantiated by IDC's prediction that wireless broadband will outpace the standard broadband rate of growth by three times in 2005".

He said Unwired's largest channel for the period was retail with 63 percent of new customers, followed by the company's direct channel with 30 percent and the wholesale channel with 7 percent.

For the half-year to 31 December, Unwired recorded a loss of AU$21.271 million on revenues of AU$5.414 million, with Spence insisting the company had delivered "on time, on-budget and slightly ahead of our internal targets".

The loss included AU$5.641 million of spectrum depreciation and AU$1.5 million of expenses to Austar for use of the 2.3 GHz spectrum over which Unwired has an option to purchase.

The company's cash balance stood at AU$30.826 million as at 31 December 2004, with an additional AU$1.7 million of long term bank deposits securing bank guarantees.

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