The number of Australian ISPs offering wireless Internet access has fallen dramatically over the past year, according to a survey conducted by telecommunications research firm Market Clarity.
According to the survey, which will be presented by Market Clarity's chief executive officer Shara Evans at the Wireless Australia 2006 conference in Sydney this afternoon, there are less than 100 ISPs in Australia offering a wireless connection package. During 2004 and 2005, this figure stood at around 140.
Evans believes that ISPs are leaving the wireless market because takeup is low and their initial investment in the service was relatively small: "I believe the reason we are seeing a decrease in the number of ISPs offering wireless options is that a number of ISPs were initially resellers of a wholesale service".
"Because they were reseller instead of having an investment in the network infrastructure it was quite easy to go in and out of that business because they hadn't made a really large investment to begin with," Evans told ZDNet Australia.
In addition, Evans said relatively low takeup meant the wireless products were not profitable enough: "In Australia, out of roughly three million connections less than two percent are wireless -- less than 58,000. You don't have to struggle with the mathematics behind that... In some cases the take-up of the wireless access option just didn't have a commercial return on investment for them."
Unsurprisingly, wireless products are most popular in rural areas.
"In the regional areas we are seeing quite a lot of these wireless providers and I don't think that will change because in some of those areas wireless is the only option to get broadband Internet connectivity," added Evans.