Next time you stay in a hotel somewhere in Australia and hook up to your VPN or download email, there’s a good chance that Sam Bashiry’s company, Broadband Solutions, is providing your access.
Although many of these services are branded iBahn or DoCoMo, it’s the South Melbourne reseller that is probably providing the connection. And it’s not just hotels: Broadband Solutions also provides services to schools and is looking at colleges, university campuses and retirement villages as customers.
A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that Broadband Solutions maintains 100,000 endpoints and connects 67,500 people a day, or 24.6 million a year. Australia’s population is 23.68 million.
Not bad for a business started in 2005 with a $1,000 router.
“We look after 90 percent of hotels in Australia for net connectivity as well as hardware requirements and voice termination,” Bashiry says, counting marquees such as Sydney’s Star City as well as national chains Hyatt, Marriott, Rydges and Hilton among clients.
“When we started looking at hospitality, we realised they had two to three service providers. Traditionally, they had one for guest internet, one for back office and then another network link for wireless in conferences. That made no sense.”
The solution that Bashiry and fellow director Brad Hughes offers is a redundant link to Broadband Solutions’ network that provides guest internet over a fibre link and Ethernet over copper for administration.
For conferences, this pathway is especially important because it enables hotels to burst bandwidth on demand. They can configure this on the fly for a daily fee, Bashiry says.
Broadband Solutions also helps triple-play services, providing the backbone for movie providers.
The next step will be to ramp up collaboration and videoconferencing services for administrative staff and guests: “That’s the future but it’s a hard sell,” Bashiry says.
Broadband Solutions has built its own PABX system on the open source Asterix platform. It will use this architecture to push more collaboration services into hotels and≈possibly replace the ubiquitous in-room telephone handset with a smarter end-point.
Bashiry has just completed his three-year plan and he “can only see growth”.
The business has donated $300,000 of services to a new prostate hospital in Melbourne, which was a valuable learning exercise for working in that sector, he says.
Up to now, the strategy was to build a stable and scalable core network.
“And with big clientele it’s all about delivery; if you don’t get it right you don’t get a second chance,” Bashiry says. “Now it’s growing quite rapidly and there’s so many things to do, but we don’t want to do everything; let’s expand and do it properly and take our time.”
And for those who have railed against the exorbitant charges for in-room internet compared with overseas prices, Bashiry holds out hope for better times ahead. As hotels migrate to simpler, bundled services, they’re increasing their bandwidth and dropping the prices.
“Hotels are starting to offer the internet for free if you become a member,” he says. “It will dramatically change in the next six to 12 months. The days of paying $29.99 and getting 56kbps speed are gone; it’s unrealistic and people won’t put up with it.”
Key executives: Sam Bashiry (director), Brad Hughes (director)
HQ: South Melbourne, Victoria
2014 revenue: $9.6 million
Headcount: 25 full-time
Top vendor: Telstra