BigAir grows wireless base with Veritel

BigAir has acquired Veritel Wireless in a bid to further expand its fixed, portable and mobile wireless broadband services.

The deal gives BigAir access to more than 4000 business and residential customers using Veritel's wholesale network partners, iBurst and Unwired.

"We can now offer a complete suite of wireless broadband services," BigAir managing director, Jason Ashton, said. "We can offer businesses fixed wireless including voice and data services [a high-speed alternative to DSL], as well as portable and mobile wireless services that deliver broadband Internet, email and VPN access to power users on the road."

The Veritel acquisition was the latest move in BigAir's expansion march, Ashton said. The company also lodged an IPO to raise $10 million and list on the ASX.

BigAir already offers a fixed wireless network across Sydney and Melbourne, covering the cities major business areas.

The IPO funds would expand the network into other capital cities - including Canberra, Adelaide Perth and Brisbane - and metropolitan areas such as Newcastle and Wollongong during the next 12 months, Ashton said.

The company would now start to focus on attracting a wider net of partners including systems integrators and ISPs, he said.

"We need partners to work with us to help businesses migrate to VoIP," Ashton said. "We are looking for partners with knowledge of IP-converged networks. We're not looking to retain any legacy networking players."

Market researchers at IDC expect the local VoIP market to reach $850 million by 2009. The local wireless broadband market is also growing three times faster than the overall broadband market, expected to generate in excess of $243 million.

BigAir planned to roll out a channel program in the coming weeks, Ashton said, built around network independence.

"The fact we have ownership of our own wireless network and access to others gives us points of difference versus our competitors," Ashton said. "Unlike many ISPs and carriers, we don't rely on access to the copper networks to deliver our services."

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