Northern Michigan University rolls out mobile WiMAX

Updated Aug. 20, 2009, 1:49 p.m. (ET)

Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., has deployed mobile WiMAX in the 2.5 GHz band using equipment from Motorola and is providing WiMAX-enabled laptops to all students as part of their tuition.

The university, which has been handing out laptops to students for the last 10 years, said it needed a wireless broadband network that offered greater range than WiFi given the fact that the school is in a rural area and commuter students and staff may live several miles away from campus. The network is truly mobile and encrypted for use by university students and employees as well as some governmental entities.

Motorola WiMAX devices, including USB adapters and CPEs, will be available in the future to students and others with older laptops so they can connect to the network. The network is launching with four sites with plans to expand it to seven.

NMU is the first university in the U.S. to deploy a mobile WiMAX network. Will it become a trend? Dave Wangrow, senior director of WiMAX product management with Motorola Home & Networks Mobility, said NMU right now is an example of one university being forward thinking but that a WiMAX operator, whether Clearwire or a rural one, will look to partnerships to expand footprints. "We recognize that as a vendor to Clearwire, we're going to need to support [these types of deployments] to help them grow," he said. "This fits for a lot of universities around the country."

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