Unwired welcomes competitors as customer numbers rise

Wireless broadband provider Unwired has welcomed rivals' entry to the market as helping fuel takeup of its Sydney services after announcing the connection of more than 8,000 new customers during the September quarter.

Wireless broadband provider Unwired has welcomed rivals' entry to the market as helping fuel takeup of its Sydney services after announcing the connection of more than 8,000 new customers during the September quarter.

Chief executive David Spence -- who saw Unwired's overall customer numbers reach 36,600 for the three months ending 30 September -- said "the entry of other players into the wireless broadband market has raised customer awareness and interest in these services and we expect Unwired will benefit through ongoing customer growth".

The number is up on the figure of 28,148 recorded as at 30 June, a year after the company started rolling out its Sydney network and nine months after kicking off commercial operations. It is, however, only just over halfway towards the 70,000 Sydney customers required for Unwired to reach break-even point.

Telstra's BigPond arm flagged in August its intention to muscle into the consumer end of the wireless broadband market after earlier tackling the business market, while a number of providers are offering the iBurst service made available by Unwired rival Personal Broadband Australia.

Spence told the company's annual general meeting today he was "delighted" with growth in customer numbers.

He said a survey had revealed that almost 60 percent of customers who joined Unwired had been using dial-up before shifting to wireless.

Unwired earlier this week announced a 14 percent increase in customer revenue for the September quarter and is planning to launch a new wireless card in the first quarter of next year.

It is also rolling out eight additional base stations across its network in areas such as the eastern suburbs, North Sydney and parts of the inner west.

Unwired said it expected to receive the funds this week from Intel's AU$37 million investment to assist in future network roll-outs. The company said it had "already undertaken significant planning work" for its expansion into other city centres.