November 25, 2004

Woosh Launches Laptop Card

WOOSH has waded into the mobile data market, launching a laptop card for mobile broadband that massively undercuts the mobile data charges of Telecom and Vodafone.

The tradeoff is that the Auckland-based wireless broadband provider has a much smaller coverage area, currently 70 per cent of Auckland and the cbd's of Wellington, Christchurch and Invercargill.

Woosh is selling the data card for $499, which allows laptop users to roam anywhere within the network. There is a one-off roaming charge of $20 a month, once the customer goes more than 50 kilometres from their "base address", but no other additional charges for account holders.

They are billed as per their existing plan, which starts from $39.95 for one gigabyte a month. In contrast, Telecom and Vodafone's charges are hundreds of dollars for similar usage.

"We're not focused on competing with Telecom and Vodafone, but we see ourselves straddling the mobility of that market and the value of what you can get from a fixed broadband market," Woosh's sales and marketing manager, Sandra Geange, said.

"A lot of customers will see it as an add-on to what they're already using, whether a Woosh customer or a Telecom or Vodafone customer."

Telecom's head of mobile marketing, Kevin Bowler, said the big difference between the two services was coverage, with mobile broadband in main centres, holiday spots and over the 027 network.

Woosh offered wireless broadband using a cellular type technology and a wireless modem in the home, Ms Geange said. Some customers had already been using the 12 centimetre modem as a portable broadband device.

The company planned to extend its network nationally over the next 12 to 18 months, Ms Geange said. This included setting up in Hamilton and Dunedin and expanding Wellington's coverage to include the Hutt Valley, scheduled for early next year.

Woosh is keen to get coverage into airports, which are seen as an important part of the mobile broadband market. It has also launched a Christmas promotion in which customers who sign up for a year at $39.95 get the first six months at $19.95.

Telecom unveiled its high-speed 3G network just over two weeks ago. It is selling mobile datacards for a maximum of $699 plus gst (depending on the plan), and a 500 Mb monthly plan would cost $199.