While the U.S. wireless broadband industry is preoccupied following the big names in WiMAX, Sprint and Clearwire, smaller players are pushing ahead with their own WiMAX service and product offerings. Today, a little known municipal WiFi provider based in Grand Haven, Mich., announced it has launched several WiMAX networks in Western Michigan and New Mexico. The new services are of added interest because they operate in the relatively new 3.65 GHz band. Azulstar is using Alvarion's 802.16e BreezeMAX 3650 base stations and CPEs for use at 3.65 GHz.
Azulstar said it has been testing the WiMAX service since February in the West Michigan area, and it is now formally launching the service in the communities of Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Ferrysburg and Spring Lake, among some other locations. In New Mexico, it is launching services in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, and it has additional markets under construction. The company offers WiMAX Internet and voice services targeted to businesses, homes, and governmental customers. It prices its service for businesses starting at under $275 per month, and phone and Internet home bundles beginning at $40 per month. It promises symmetric data speeds of 100 Mbps for business connections and speeds of up to 6 Mbps for home users.
Azulstar was one of the first companies to launch municipal WiFi, which it introduced in Grand Haven in 2003, and as such is no stranger to the challenges early entrants can encounter in new markets. Yet it has said that it believes WiMAX represents a better business proposition in municipal settings because it can be more economical to deploy while offering better performance and reliability. The company has high hopes for WiMAX in the 3.65 GHz band, claiming to have registered the largest number of base station sites for this use.
Earlier this month, NextPhase Wireless announced it had deployed mobile WiMAX in 3.65 GHz spectrum in Orange County, Calif. Towerstream and Pipeline Wireless are two other companies developing 3.65 GHz WiMAX services.
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