Ex-Orange CEO Sanjay Ahuja has set up a new company to supply mobile broadband Internet access in developing countries via WiMAX technology, reports the Financial Times (FT). Augere is planning to launch its first consumer-focused broadband operations in Asia (Bangladesh and Pakistan) in October and then expand to Africa (Rwanda and Uganda) early next year, notes the FT. The company has secured US$125 million of initial funding from France Telecom, as well as New Silk Route and Vedanta Capital, which are New York-based private equity and venture capital firms, respectively. In an interview with the FT, Ahuja said London-based Augere wants to make broadband Internet access available to 1 billion people within five years, supplying services at US$10 a month. EBITDA break-even is expected in each country three years after launch. Five percent of pre-tax profits eventually generated by the businesses will be given to charities, notes the FT.

Augere’s use of WiMAX technology may surprise some industry observers, especially in light of Ahuja’s experience at Orange, a mobile operator using the GSM family of mobile technologies. Various evolutions of GSM technology – such as EDGE and HSPA – have successfully been deployed in previously unconnected African and Asian developing countries to provide Internet services.