CEO of vividwireless, Unwired and Wireless Broadband Australia, Martin Mercer, talks to ARN about the decision behind launching a 4G network, how wireless will fit in the National Broadband Network (NBN), and ISP filtering.
Why did vividwireless decide to launch a 4G network?
Martin Mercer: We wanted to have some differentiation. It’s a crowded market place with Optus, Telstra and Vodafone providing wireless services in the consumer space, and there’s no point in launching a me-too product. We wanted to launch with a leading product, best quality of service, the fastest network and a technology that couldn’t be bridged for at least four years, which would give us the opportunity to really build a substantial share for an interim period.
There has already been a fair bit of criticism about the network, with people saying it’s not quite 4G. What is your response?
There are a lot of people that get passionate about which particular elector they’re a member of, rather than what the customer experience is. 4G is a description, it’s not a standard. 4G is going to give customers an IP network, quality of service, advanced interface and provides much more efficient use of the spectrum. That’s what our service offers. As a consequence, we’ve got a much lower cost structure, faster network and we’ve got an ability to do quality of service so we can offer things like voice. We’re providing a customer experience that is remarkably different to what you get with a 3G network.
What is the cost structure for vividwireless 4G services?
You don’t need to have a contract with us. The price is $179 for the USB modem and $299 for the home gateway. If you buy them through our retail outlets, Dick Smith and Harvey Norman, you get $50 cashback on them at the moment. If you buy them online or through our call centre, you get them for nothing, provided you enter into a 24-month contract. If you choose to not enter a 24-month contract and buy the device upfront, then you can go on a pre-paid plan, which starts from 1GB for $20 per month and on a subscription plan, and you can get 5GB for $35 per month. The plans are very competitive. We’re also very competitive with naked DSL, wireless and fixed broadband space.
What are your top priorities as the new CEO?
Having just launched Australia’s first 4G network, we have to build a business in Perth, acquire customers and build the customer experience. That’s our number one priority and we're taking the network national as well. We’ve got the focus on building Sydney and Melbourne and planning in advance for Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra. At the same time, we’ve got a very important business in Sydney and to a lesser extent, Melbourne, which is the Unwired consumer business. There are a lot of valuable and loyal customers on the network and we want to make sure we don’t neglect them while we focus on building the 4G business.
How far away are you from launching those plans?
We announced in February that we have the funding to start building the networks in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra. We plan to be in Melbourne and Sydney by August and then the other markets in the New Year.