Internet provider spreads its wings

By Joseph Aldridge

A family-owned internet service provider is expanding beyond its Western Bay base for the first time.

EOL brought the internet to Tauranga in partnership with Tauranga Library in 1995 and has since grown from a one-man operation to a team of eight.

The company has established a network of wireless repeaters across the Bay and last year set up a free wifi service in central Tauranga.

The company is now poised to take its first steps outside the region into the Waikato market - a move which is exciting and nerve-racking for founder Terry Coles.

"It's a little bit scary because we're used to providing a certain level of service and it has its challenges when it's not on your doorstep and a couple of hours away," he said.

EOL has set up its Lightwave Ultra-fast broadband network in Hamilton, Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Tokoroa and will connect its first customer, environmental and engineering consultancy firm Tonkin and Taylor, this week.

"Tonkin and Taylor came to us, that instigated the move into the Waikato," Mr Coles said.

"Having one anchor customer like that means we can go in there and offer the service to everyone else."

Tonkin and Taylor IT operations manager Iain Billington said the company was establishing a Hamilton office that would become a national headquarters if a natural disaster destroyed the Auckland office.

A strong and trusted communications network was a priority, Mr Billington said.

The company asked EOL to service its Hamilton internet needs because it had experienced disappointments with previous ISPs but had enjoyed a good relationship with EOL in Tauranga, he said.

Initially EOL will use the fibre infrastructure installed as part of the Government's Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, but will install wireless repeaters in rural areas as demand dictates.

Waikato's large rural areas are under-served when it comes to fast internet, leaving a wid e opening for a company such as EOL, which specialises in fast wireless broadband, Mr Coles said.

The company would respond to demand rather than installing a wireless network across the region and then trying to connect users, he said.

"It takes a lot of time to build a wireless network, you can't build repeaters overnight so the first people to stick their hands up will probably get some attention from us, somewhere like Morrinsville or Matamata."

The company could grow 50 to 100 per cent in the next 18 months, Mr Coles said. "We've been building version three of EVA, which is our computer system, to cope with the expected demand and increase in business."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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