The Seven Network is pushing ahead with its acquisition of Unwired despite a massive move away from WiMAX technology, which is the main technology used by the fledgling broadband carrier.
Speaking at Seven’s annual general meeting the executive chairman Kerry Stokes has also committed the network to being a major content player with an IPTV network. He said the launch of the new channel Seven HD last month was “the first step in our moves to create a three channel network for Seven on free-to-air digital television”. However he refused to comment about Unwired or WiMAX.
In the US market this week both Sprint Nextel and Clearwire have called off plans to build a joint nationwide WiMax network. Analysts have warned that the announcement delivers a significant blow to the WiMax community. And in Australia Dr. Paul E. Jacobs the chief executive officer of Qualcomm recently took a massive swipe at WiMAX claiming that the technology is not efficient, does not handle VoIP well and that there are several better alternatives.
Speaking at a Telstra investor briefing he said ” WiMAX does not deliver for mobile devices and over the next few years we will see both phone manufacturers and networks move away from WiMAX technology”.
He added “WiMAX does not stack up as a platform and a lot of hype is being bantered around about by companies like Intel who have a vested interest in promoting WiMAX as a technology platform. With WiMAX there is a long list of tradeoffs such as connectivity to other networks, poor VoIP performance. The technology is not set up or structured for mobility. For carriers the technology is expensive to operate and when 4G is rolled out WiMAX problems will be further exacerbated even with the introduction of 16M technology”.
Stokes who is determined to build a competitor to arch enemy Foxtel said of his new vontent plans “These new channels will allow us to retain and build audiences and develop marketing partnerships as we meet the challenge of hundreds of channels in a rapidly evolving communications landscape,” Stokes said.
“We are well-placed to lead in the development of multiple channel television. Today and over the coming 12 months will see Seven develop a multiple-channel business – realising our long-held ambitions in this promising evolution of free-to-air television.”
At the meeting shareholders voted in favour of a resolution allowing financial assistance for the company to make further magazine or other media acquisitions.
Stokes welcomed wireless broadband Unwired into the Seven fold, but could not comment further on the yet-to-be completed acquisition.
“Shareholders have seen that we are currently at about 64% of Unwired, which we are pleased about,” he said.
“However, I also understand that as our takeover bid remains current, and is in fact compulsory extended given we went through the 50% level this week, there is unfortunately nothing I can say while the bid is open. This company [Unwired] holds valuable wireless spectrum and will open up significant opportunities for your company to expand its capabilities in the distribution of its content.”
Stokes also described the judgement handed down by the Federal Court in July in the C7 case as “extremely disappointing”, and said Seven is appealing against it.
“The decision does not change our continuing desire to seek new delivery platforms for our content and pursue competition in media – in particular in ensuring that we as a company are not disadvantaged in this landscape,” he said.
At the AGM Stokes and directors Peter Gammell and Professor Murray Wells were all re-elected to the board unopposed.