Unwired loses favour with Exetel

Unwired loses favour with Exetel

Summary: Local internet service provider Exetel today said it might stop reselling Unwired's pre-WiMax wireless broadband service as it inked a deal to provide 3G mobile broadband services through Optus.


update Local internet service provider Exetel today said it might stop reselling Unwired's pre-WiMax wireless broadband service as it inked a deal to provide 3G mobile broadband services through Optus.

Until now, Exetel, which broadly focuses on ADSL broadband, has presented its users with a mobile experience via reselling Unwired services. However, this is unlikely to continue when a five-year contract with the wireless operator runs out. Exetel inked the Optus deal in June.

"As far as we are aware (we have had very little contact with Unwired for the past two plus years) Unwired aren't interested in a reseller/wholesale 'channel' and we would not expect to renew the contract," Exetel CEO John Linton told ZDNet.com.au today.

"Apart from that — Unwired hasn't moved forward on making the service more affordable or in more areas and our current view is that 3G will outperform WiMax in Australia by a considerable margin by mid 2009."

Exetel will continue offering the Unwired plans until the contract runs out; however, an Exetel spokesperson said they couldn't see any reason why users wouldn't go for the 3G HSPA offering instead, which they said was cheaper and faster, as well as having a much smaller, more mobile modem.

Unwired was bought by Seven last year, with Seven's CEO expressing positive thoughts for the company. However, Unwired only contributed a loss in the last financial year, according to the company's last results, where it also announced it was nearing the end of a review of Unwired's WiMax technical capabilities.

Unwired CTO Eric Hamilton said the company was "certainly not" moving away from providing wholesale services and pointed out the firm would advance its technology when it moved to adopt the formal 802.16e WiMAX standard.

He said the current speed ceiling for Unwired's broadband was 1Mbps, but that would change when the WiMAX adoption went ahead, and WiMAX fared well in real-world throughput tests compared to 3G.

Whether WiMax has been dying a long death has been on analysts' minds for some time, with major local carriers such as Telstra and Optus behind 3G and its faster brethren LTE. Frost and Sullivan predicted WiMax would only take two per cent of the Australian market, while telecommunications analyst Paul Budde has said that aside from emerging markets, WiMax would only find use in niche areas, such as regional or enterprise use.

Exetel's move to HSPA would see thousands of customers sign up for mobile broadband, Linton said, with an optimistic forecast seeing 10,000 users on the service by the end of the first quarter next year, and double that midway through the year. Sluggish growth would see around 500 sign-ups a month over the next nine months.

In order to be able to take advantage of the HSPA services, users have to sign up to a 24-month, $10 per month Optus/Exetel mobile plan. However, Exetel will also continue to offer mobile services through its former mobile partner Vodafone.

The company had planned to offer a mobile package using a SIM and USB package for laptops, but because of an order mix up, only the SIMs were available at the launch today.

The announced plans were pay for what you use, involving a $5 per month access charge, on top of which users are charged 1.5 cents per MB up to 1GB of downloads, and 2.5 cents per MB after that.

Topics: Telcos, Networking, Optus, Wi-Fi

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Unwired loses favour with Exetel

    I'm personally of the opinion that Wi-Fi (My understanding is that Wi-Max is a progression from Wi-Fi) and 3G do not need to be mutually exclusive and each have their own benefits and drawbacks. I've written a brief post on my Blog about using 3G and Wi-Fi together, this is written from a UK context.

  • Error

    "In order to be able to take advantage of the HSPA services, users have to sign up to a 24-month, $10 per month Optus/Exetel mobile plan."

    The phone plan is only required for the M1 and M2 plans. For the C1, C2 and C3 plans the mobile service isn't available. With either the M or C plans you can also use VoIP, of which Exetel gives you a free DID if you use the Exetel-provided VoIP service.
  • Great more for the optus 3G network

    This is really disappointing, the optus 3G network has been over-soled to the point i wont be suprised if it breaks down anytime soon. I have a iPhone3G on the optus/virgin network and my speeds suck, Optus before you start selling out your 3G network start by adding more capacity and greater coverage.

    Might be a good start.
  • Try again

    I've noticed a significant improvement in my download speeds with Optus in just the last few days, so they've obviously upgraded the capacity in my area. Many users are also reporting these improvements on whirlpool. Maybe try again?
  • No contract

    Exetel has since clarified on their plans page that the mobile service only has a 24 month contract if you take it with the M2 plan which is on a 24 month contract. If you want the standard no contract M1 plan then the mobile service add-on has no contract.
  • Wrong

    Optus seem to be allocating bandwidth to certain providers.

    eg. Optus may have a 100mbit connection to a tower, Virgin may buy 10Mbit, another carrier buys xMbit, and Optus' own customers may get 50Mbit. So one carrier's part will be saturated and the other carriers are not.
  • Shame....

    ISPs like Dodo, Extel and TPG? will be opting for 3G "FRAUDBAND" over real solutions. Why? Because you can claim to sell the same product and customers wont know after theyve signed the contract - FRAUDBAND.

    Can anyone tell me that Optus3G is the same in quality (Speed, Reliaibility) as Telstra's NextG, considering it hasnt made any siginficant upgrades to its network - which is planned for 2009?

    How is it then that Optus can sell 3G broadband, Vodafone can sell 3G BB, and NextG can sell 3G BB, and be the same?

    Well, the only provider of 3G broadband that isnt fradulent is Telstra's NextG. Which is why my dissappointment of marketing over substance that has led to the demise of Unwired, which is a very nice DEDICATED broadband and data network, and not a just packing extra bales of shraw onto the camels back.