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Mobile WiMAX becomes commercially available

Mobile WiMAX, anticipated by many broadcasters as the next logical step in a succession of supplements to traditional field contribution, became commercially available for the first time as a mobile offering via PCMCIA card in the United States June 30 in Jackson Hole, WY.

DigitalBridge Communications (DBC), which launched its mobile WiMAX network in the area using WiMAX Forum Certified 802.16e equipment, initially is offering a service package to consumers with 1Mb/s download and 256kb/s upload support. Commercial packages that support up/download speeds as high as 2Mb/s will be available after the company completes its initial testing of the system, according to a DBC spokesperson.

The announcement came as a bit of a surprise. Since May, industry attention has been focused on Sprint Nextel and Clearwire, which said they were combining their wireless businesses, with a planned September WiMAX rollout in Baltimore, MD, and with other markets to follow in the fourth quarter.

In spring 2006, KRON-TV in San Francisco detailed in an NAB white paper tests it was conducting with a Bay Area service provider to allow field crews to contribute video via WiMAX. Since then, the use of wireless broadband Internet technology as a means of digital newsgathering to supplement traditional ENG and SNG contribution has gained momentum. Perhaps the highest profile example to date has been CNN, which was recognized in January with a technical Emmy during the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for development of a digital newsgathering kit relying on satellite broadband Internet connectivity for field contribution.

DBC is offering the mobile WiMAX service under the brand name BridgeMAXX.

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