November 25, 2004

Wade in With Woosh

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

The trade-off is that the Auckland-based wireless broadband provider has a much smaller coverage area, currently 70 per cent of Auckland and the CBDs 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 one-off roaming charge of $20 a month, once the customer goes more than 50km 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 in the 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," said Woosh's sales and marketing manager, Sandra Geange.

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 currently offers wireless broadband using a cellular type technology and a wireless modem in the home, Geange said.

Some customers have been using the 12cm modem as a portable broadband device already, Geange said.

The company has a plan for extending its network countrywide over the next 12-18 months. This includes setting up in Hamilton and Dunedin and expanding Wellington's coverage to include the Hutt Valley, scheduled for early next year.

Woosh are keen to get coverage into airports, which are seen as an important part of the mobile broadband market.

Woosh have also launched a Christmas promotion where customers who sign up for a year at $39.95 get the first six months at $19.95.

Telecom unveiled their high speed 3G network just over two weeks ago.

They are selling mobile datacards for a maximum of $699 plus GST (depending on the plan), and a 500 Mb monthly plan would cost $199.