Cable & Wireless Optus has joined forces with US portal powerhouse Excite@Home to create a local Internet venture branded Optus@Home under the auspices of a new joint venture company @Home Network Australia.
Designed around Optus' HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) cable network, Optus@Home offers a viable alternative to existing dial-up services, according to Paul Donovan, chief commercial officer of C&W Optus.
"Cable modem services are faster and visually appealing, and the content developed for cable modem is intensely visual, interactive and always on," explained Donovan of the comparative benefits.
However, Donovan speculates that cable modem technology needs to be further developed before it eclipses dial-up services completely; Optus will remain committed to its dial-up services in conjunction with this new offering.
Fashioning Optus@Home along similar lines to other @Home sites around the globe, the service will feature local content including news, entertainment and sport. "This joint venture is responsible for giving the site an Australian feel. We are already in discussions with a whole range of local content providers," Donovan said.
Although confident this service will appeal to users as well as content providers, Optus@Home is ensuring its popularity with what Donovan describes as "a simple price scheme based on a flat rate and a focus on commerce, not just entertainment. This means we will move away from static banner adds and provide more opportunities for e-commerce."
Rolling out the service across the network on a node-by-node basis over the next 12 months, Donovan suggested the service would be launched at the end of this year.
"More than 7000 customers are joining C & W Optus' broadband network each week," claimed Chris Anderson, chief executive officer of Optus.
"This joint venture will unleash the potential of the HFC that is at the moment used for telephony and dial-up traffic."