Wednesday, September 19, 2007

AT&T Looking to Close Broadband Divide with WiMax

I've written in the past and Mike Q and I have podcasted about rural areas and how the lack of broadband availability (Cable modem or DSL) can handicap residents including students. WiMax is one of the more promising technologies that can help solve this problem and it looks like AT&T is moving in this direction. The company launched a trial with their Alascom subsidiary in Juneau, Alaska where customers can purchase WiMax service starting at $19.95 a month. Alascom is using Alvarion IEEE 802.16e-based WiMAX equipment to provide speeds up to 1Mbps symmetrical. According to an Alascom press release:

"AT&T Alascom is fully committed to deliver the benefits of broadband Internet service as widely as possible," said Mike Felix, president of AT&T Alascom. "Our deployment of WiMAX-based high speed Internet service in Juneau is the result of years of research into new-generation broadband technologies that are well-suited for deployment in challenging environments such as Alaska. Today, those efforts enable us to deliver a compelling new broadband choice for thousands of Alaskans, including many who have previously not had access to high speed Internet service."

The press release concludes:

"Outside Alaska, AT&T will evaluate opportunities to deploy fixed wireless technologies in other areas of the country based on customer needs and the results of its existing deployments."

DSL Reports Monday quoted anonymous sources saying the company will likely be rolling this out in some areas in the lower 48 - specifically the south:

"AT&T's limited spectrum holdings could make it hard for the operator to take on serious deployment outside of the South"

"Spectrum will also be an issue for AT&T if it wants to deploy outside the South. The 22 2.3 Ghz licenses that it holds come from the BellSouth merger and only cover some of the Southern markets that operator provided service in. AT&T sold off its remaining 2.5 Ghz licenses to Clearwire LLC earlier this year."

I've written about the Sprint/Clearwire WiMax initiative which is directed towards mobile devices (hand held computers, phones, PDAs, etc). This AT&T project appears to be directed as a residential and business broadband alternative - exactly the kind of technology we need to start closing the broadband divide in the U.S.

Read Show Notes and listen to Mike Q and my latest Podcast titled Micro-blogging linked here.
Podcasts also free on iTunes.

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