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McCaw unveils wireless broadband service

U.S. mobile phone industry pioneer Craig McCaw said last week that he plans to launch a wireless broadband Internet service in the United States and several other countries. The service will use an early version of WiMax wireless broadband technology, which is backed by a consortium of nearly 100 companies, including Intel.

McCaw’s company, Clearwire, will target up to 20 markets by the end of next year where telephone and cable companies have been slow to roll out wired broadband, offering data downloads comparable to cable modems as well as basic telephone service.

McCaw said Clearwire would offer the service first in Jacksonville, FLA, and St. Cloud, MN, and was also testing equipment in Mexico City, and Vancouver and Ottawa, Canada. He said he hoped to offer the service in rural and urban markets and in the developing world as well as in the United States and Europe.

The company did not reveal prices, but Clark Peterson, president of major markets for Clearwire, said the service would be competitive with cable and high-speed Internet services from telephone companies. Those services typically charge $30 to $45 per month on top of basic services.

Peterson said the company would sell consumers an easy-to-install wireless modem that would connect to their computers and include a plug for a phone. The service will offer download speeds of about 1.5Mb/s, but Peterson said Clearwire would also offer lower-priced services with slower data speeds or no phone service.

The service isn’t designed for mobile users, but Clearwire customers could move their device anywhere within the company’s coverage area.

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