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dotWAP Gains Data-Only Wireless Network

Melbourne-based wireless data services provider dotWAP has acquired one of Australia's largest data-only wireless networks, acquiring United Wireless from Austar in a cash and stock transaction.

Under the deal, dotWAP has paid Austar $3 million in cash and given 1.75 million dotWAP shares for the network, and will change its name to United Wireless when it assumes management of the service.

United Wireless owns and operates the country's only 400Mhz Mobitex wireless data network, a proprietary data optimised network designed by Ericsson. It is unique because unlike 3G networks, it does not apply time-based fees but charges according to the data downloaded.

The network currently provides services to emergency services, courier companies and wireless Internet providers such as dotWAP, and will support dotWAP's Australian operations by providing wireless network access for the NEO1 and future devices.

dotWAP will manage the network from its Network Operations Centre in the Sydney suburb of St Leonards. This centre manages the $30 million network9s 35 base stations, that reach around 70 per cent of Australia9s urban population outside Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

The network currently provides services to emergency services, courier companies and wireless Internet providers such as dotWAP, and will support dotWAP's Australian operations by providing wireless network access for the NEO1 and future devices.

As United Wireless has licences to large parts of the 400Mhz spectrum, it reigns as the only Mobitex network in Australia, and its data-based rates will give dotWAP access to a cost-effective service to provide.

The purchase complements dotWAP's own wireless efforts: the company9s current client/server architecture is designed to operate on Mobitex packet switched wireless data networks with Palm V organisers. dotWAP is also finalising agreements to supply its Wireless Application Gateway, the infrastructure and software backbone that supports its wireless data services, to Mobitex operators in Europe and Asia.

The wireless network will maintain and develop its own direct customer base through the supply of a range of vertical wireless data solutions to complement those in place already. dotWAP also intends to expand the network and improve coverage and traffic capacity over the longer term, to develop its new business.

United Wireless' network currently has 9000 devices connected to it, and the company anticipates this will grow to 40,000 (including dotWAP9s customers) by mid 2002.

The purchase by dotWAP comes hot on the heels of the finalisation of its own acquisition. Australian Technology Services (ATY' on the Australian Stock Exchange), which recently announced its Heads of Agreement to take a controlling stake in dotWAP, has now formally completed the transaction with major dotWAP shareholders. Under the offer, shareholders will receive 33 ATY shares plus ten 20 cent options for each dotWAP share.

ATY has also agreed to move to a full bid to 100 per cent of dotWAP in future, subject to due diligence.

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