IDC: Wireless broadband sales soar

The local wireless broadband market will double in size next year, growing three times faster than the wired market, according to IDC.

The analyst firm estimated wireless broadband revenues of $13 million were earned in 2004, and predicted figures of $57 million for this year and $112 million in 2006.

The 70,000 users estimated for this year were dominated by consumers, IDC research manager for wireless and mobility, Warren Chaisatien, said. Business take-up would surpass the consumer market in 2007, he said.

The survey - Beam Me Up: Australian Wireless Broadband Forecast and Analysis, 2005-2009 - questioned 250 businesses and 800 consumers during the first quarter of this year.

Growth had been fuelled by strong performances from Unwired and Personal Broadband Australia, Chaisatien said.

"Unwired is an aggressive player offering ADSL cable for as low as $15 per month, which competes with dial-up services," he said.

However, further short-term growth would be hampered by the proprietary technology used by various providers like Big Air, Pacific Wireless and Access Providers, Chaisatien said.

"Proprietary technology use means growth is expensive because there are no economies of scale from worldwide vendors", he said.

The adoption of the 802.16 WiMax wireless broadband standard next year would boost adoption, Chaisatien said.

WiMax would foster mobile phone-like functionality, such as roaming agreements and provider cooperation, but would also lead to consolidation, he said. Telstra and Optus were likely to snap up smaller competitors.