Optus@Home -- big business need not apply

Cable & Wireless Optus (CWO) and joint venture partner @Home are moving full steam ahead with the Optus@Home broadband cable service but individual consumers look like the only ones who will benefit from the high-speed offering.

CWO's HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) network, rolled out to 2.2 million homes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, is not a suitable network choice for large organisations, according to Milo Medin, founder of Excite@Home in the US and so-called "father of the high-speed Internet".

Medin said cable services "tend not to be a good fit" with large enterprises, because of the size of applications sent across the network. Businesses require fibre optic equipment, he said.

While Medin said opportunities exist for CWO to deliver all kinds of services, @Home appears quite happy to maintain focused on the targeted 2.2 million homes along Australia's east coast.

"We believe that our focus on the eastern seaboard will deliver good results," said Paul Cameron, Optus@Home's IT director.

A spokesperson from CWO said: "Our focus with the cable is servicing consumers with Optus@Home. We will be offering services for business in the future, but at the moment our focus is consumers."

Set to launch later this month, Medin said Optus@Home will have a significant advantage over long-time cable provider Telstra due to its pricing model.

Unlike Telstra, which last year announced a cable pricing policy which charges a set fee plus extra for each megabyte over 100MB, the Optus@home price plan is based on a flat-fee system.

"There's a lot of difficulty with a system that uses volume-sensitive billing," Medin said. "If there's a flat rate alternative . . .people will like that."

Although he would not forecast subscriber numbers, Medin said other @Home services around the world had recorded initial penetration rates of between 3 and 5 per cent in the first year.

According to officials, Optus@Home will announce its content providers next Thursday at the public launch of the service.

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