The cost of connecting to Australia's forthcoming WiMax bush broadband will not be as expensive as some have suggested, according to OPEL, the joint venture between Elders and Optus, the company building the network.
Jason Horley, general manager of Elders, said today that the cost of installing the necessary equipment in users' homes to enable them to connect to the network will be far less than some industry figures have predicted.
Horley revealed the cost of WiMax installation will be around AU$250, and labelled the suggestion that the actual installation cost would reach AU$1,000 as "simply wrong".
"While the price of set-up equipment costs are a matter for retail ISPs to determine, they are expected to be less than AU$250," he said. Horley also indicated that installation costs could fall below the AU$250 barrier for those willing to sign up to longer-term plans.
The suggestions of a four-figure price tag were first raised by a Gartner analyst, prompting questions in Parliament over whether users would have to foot a AU$1,000 installation bill as well as pay for a AU$300 data card to connect to the network.
PM John Howard denied the suggestion at the time, saying: "I will not and cannot confirm it."
Elders' Horley added that those using the bush broadband network can expect to pay no more for their monthly broadband subscription than their town-dwelling cousins. "OPEL's wholesale service will enable rural and regional Australians to access plans at prices comparable to that being paid by metropolitan consumers, which typically average AU$35 to AU$60 per month," he said.
OPEL won the bid to build the AU$2 billion network, based on the WiMax standard last week, using AU$1 billion of government funds earmarked for the project. The network has been generating controversy since its inception, with Telstra writing to MPs this week accusing WiMax of having lower range and speed than promised.