Customerless telco has big things in store

In a rare act of IT industry humility, fledgling Perth telco Swiftel has budgeted for no revenues in its first six months of business.

According to founder and CEO Chris Gale, the company will spend that six months installing a fibre-optic cable network spanning Perth's CBD, including connections between 30 major buildings, with beta testing and preliminary telecommunications services commencing in the second half of the 2000-2001 financial year.

US networking giant Lucent Technologies is under a $1.2 million contract to lay a fibre-optic cable network capable of delivering data at up to 10 gigabytes per second.

Overall setup costs for the telco are expected to reach $4.5 million.

Although Swiftel currently has no customers, Gale said the telco expects it will enjoy a 5 per cent market share of Western Australia's $400 million data communications market within three years.

Although the Western Australian telecommunications market is serviced by the likes of Optus, Telstra and AAPT, Gale believes many country areas in the state are "screaming" for a high-quality, low-cost telco service.

Many businesses already planning to sign up with Swiftel complain of existing carriers' inability to transmit the high-volume data they frequently send via the internet, he said.

Swiftel will finance the excursion with equity provided by WA mining company Roebuck Resources, which has passed shareholder approval to take an 80.1 per cent controlling stake in the telco. Roebuck will change its name to Swiftel.

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