ALTERNATIVE: The Red Wifi team is filling a need for faster rural internet.
ALTERNATIVE: The Red Wifi team is filling a need for faster rural internet. Alasdair Young

Dalby mob up against big telcos

A SURAT Basin trio from Roma, Thargomindah and Tara are taking on Telstra in telecommunications.

Annabelle Weir, Ken Woodward and Steven Stephens are the three-way part-owners of Red Wifi, a company which is helping hundreds of country families dial out of the digital dark ages.

Mr Stephens said that as people were paying up to $160 for 20 gigabytes in regional areas, an alternative to the NBN for unlimited internet was needed.

"People wanted faster internet, and Telstra couldn't offer them anything, even for a price," he said.

In Queensland, you can get 3G or 4G mobile internet, though for business purposes an ADSL modem is a must.

However, a shortage of ports left in the exchange means this is not an option for most rural families.

The Point to Point system Red Wifi sells is essentially purely wireless internet, relayed from the same fibre used to roll out the NBN from dishes mounted on high terrain - like grain silos.

The selling point for the Dalby-based business is its small size. Given that it has a small customer base and an excess of bandwidth, it can guarantee minimum speeds rather than promising speeds "up to" a certain level.

"It's like the roads - as more people move in, traffic becomes congested. Well, we put in more roads and infrastructure before it gets congested," Ms Weir said.

Red Wifi currently covers the Darling Downs. This week they completed their coverage of the wider Cecil Plains area by installing a relay dish at Norwin.

Though heavily regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and Tele- communications Industry Ombudsman, the only thing stopping them operating in an area is low demand.

"If you can get us 20-30 customers, we can justify setting up the service," Mr Stephens said.