Wireless competition - friend or foe?

By Robert Briel

ANGA CABLE 2009 - COLOGNE. Wireless broadband can be a threat or an opportunity for cable operators, we learned at the “Cable versus wireless” session.

Wireless broadband has taken off in a big way in two European countries.
In Austria, 30% of all broadband customers are wireless, said Thomas Hitze, CEO of UPC Austria, while in Sweden there are 1 million wireless broadband homes, according to Martin Krul, CTO at Com Hem.

In both countries, the reason for the high penetration of wireless broadband is an aggressive marketing campaign by 3/Hutchinson.
“A wireless operator is the single biggest threat to us,” said Hintze. “We look at four models. We could acquire a mobile operator, we could acquire spectrum, we could be a virtual operator or we could be a reseller.” At the moment UPC Austria has a marketing agreement with Orange.

In Sweden, the entry of 3 in the wireless broadband market sparked a price war, with free mobile broadband given away for periods from 6-18 months as part of a bundle, told Krul the audience.