C&W Optus and @Home announce joint venture

Cable & Wireless Optus and Excite@Home yesterday announced the formation of a joint venture to bring high speed Internet services to Australia.

Called Optus@Home, the service will run over the Optus broadband HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) cable network, which extends to 2.2 million homes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Confirming speculation about the venture, Chris Anderson, C&W Optus CEO, said a new company, @Home Network Australia will be formed to develop and market the service.

Anderson said the service "will jump-start [C&W Optus'] cable modem business when it is launched later in the year".

However, according to Paul Donovan, chief commercial officer, C&W Optus, cable modems will not be pervasive in Australia for some time.

"Other [broadband] technologies need to be developed before dial-up is eclipsed," Donovan said.

According to Donovan, Optus@Home will closely resemble other Excite@Home portals throughout the world.

Donovan said C&W Optus is currently in negotiation with local content providers for the provision of Australian-based news, entertainment and other content. Based on success in other countries, Donovan is "very confident" Optus@Home will attract significant content providers.

According to John O'Farrell, senior vice president, international, Excite@Home the portal company was attracted to C&W Optus as an Australian partner because of their HFC network, strong brand and common vision.

"Cable & Wireless Optus impressed us with its clear understanding of the opportunity, its unique customer service and its determination to market aggressively," O'Farrell said.

Whilst not wanting to reveal too many details about C&W Optus' cable modem business, Donovan said the service will be ready for launch later this year and will be rolled out in a node-by-node process over 12 months.

According to Anderson, more than 7000 customers are joining C&W Optus' broadband network each week. Currently it is being used for telephony and dial-up traffic Anderson said, but with the addition of the cable modem business and the Optus@Home service, C&W Optus is "unleashing the potential of the HFC".

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