Unwired to launch in Melbourne

By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Unwired Australia, the country’s largest wireless broadband provider, will be launching its service in Melbourne tomorrow through retailers including Harvey Norman, Dick Smith and Tandy.

According to Unwired CEO, David Spence, 220,000 residents within the Melbourne CBD and its inner suburbs will be able to sign up to the service.

Initial coverage will range from Docklands to Richmond, Fitzroy to Middle Park, and Port Melbourne to Toorak. Next month, the coverage will be extended to Flemington, Clifton Hill, Collingwood and North Melbourne.

According to an article published in The Australian, Telstra will tomorrow slash its monthly plans which apply to its PCMCIA Wireless Card by up to 30 per cent to compete with Unwired’s launch into Melbourne.

According to the article, Telstra will cut $20 per month from capped-usage plans previously priced between $69.95 and $129.95 per month. Telstra has also introduced packages for 10 or 20 hours of use per month, priced at $29.95 and $49.95.

The prices for Telstra’s fixed wireless service, which uses a larger desktop modem, are expected to remain unchanged.

“Unwired’s entry into the market means Melbournians are finally getting standards-based, fast wireless broadband at a great price. With Unwired, you buy the modem, plug it in, select a plan, and you’re online – there’s no installation and no waiting time – it’s that easy. It’s also portable so you can use Unwired across our Melbourne network and most of Sydney,” said Spence.

Unwired will complete the first phase of its Melbourne network, which will cover around 25 per cent of the Melbourne population, in the second half of 2006. Further expansion of its Melbourne network will then take place as more customers join Unwired.

“Our Sydney experience gives us the advantage of knowing what type of person is more likely to be an early adopter of the Unwired service so we are focussing on suburbs that fit this demographic first. We look forward to building a substantial customer and revenue base as soon as possible so we can increase our coverage across most of Melbourne,” Spence said.

According to Spence, Unwired’s entry into the Melbourne market coincides with increasing consumer demand for voice and internet mobility.

“With Telstra losing 180,000 wholesale and retail fixed phone lines in the six months to 31 December, 2005, it’s clear people are ditching fixed home phones and expensive line rentals in droves – moving to low cost capped mobile plans and wireless broadband. It’s not just about cost – it’s about convenience. People want access to voice calls and the internet anywhere anytime, not just at a set location,” Spence said.

Unwired has appointed AFL footballer, Nathan Buckley, as the ambassador for the brand during the Melbourne launch. Buckley will appear in marketing material including direct mail, print advertising and billboards from tomorrow.

“Nathan will be pivotal in creating awareness for Unwired in Melbourne. Nathan is a great fit for us – he has a solid understanding of wireless internet and he personifies our vision of freedom, simplicity and flexibility in a ‘wireless’ world. We look forward to working with him,” Spence said.

Unwired offers portable broadband services via its desktop modem and wireless card. Plans start at $15.95 per month for fast internet at better than dial up speeds and $29.95 per month for its broadband internet services. To access the service, consumers must first purchase either a Desktop Modem for RRP $189 or awireless card for RRP $299. Online and phone orders incur a $6 delivery fee.

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