Forum: WiMAX dominates broadband grants

Tue, 12/01/2009 - 7:20am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

WiMAX technology accounts for more than 25 percent of last-mile broadband deployment grant applications filed with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), according to a report from the WiMAX Forum.

There were more than 300 WiMAX applications among the total last-mile broadband stimulus applications received by the NTIA and the Department of Agriculture's RUS.

In total, WiMAX-related applicants applied for $1.6 billion of the $14.2 billion requested by the 1,130 total applicants for last-mile deployments. Four WiMAX Forum members applied for last-mile funding, including Clearwire, Digital Bridge Communications, Open Range Communications and Towerstream.

“WiMAX can be deployed over wide areas to serve thousands of consumers cheaper and faster than traditional wireline services,” said Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum. “For every dollar spent on a new network, a WiMAX operator can cover 10 to 20 times the number of homes and businesses with WiMAX service than they can cover with wireline. These savings are passed along to the customer, who spends only $25-$35 a month on a WiMAX connection with comparable speed to a $50-$60 cable or wireline connection.”

More than $4 billion has been set aside for the first round of stimulus grants, with $7.2 billion in total funds available. So far, companies have applied for almost $28 billion in broadband stimulus money, almost four times the amount of money available through the program.

With LTE coming, WiMAX is still fighting for legitimacy. The turnout, the WiMAX Forum said, shows the strong potential for WiMAX helping to end the digital divide in the U.S. at a significantly lower cost than traditional wireline deployments.

About 12 percent of U.S. households have no access to broadband service, placing the United States at 15th in broadband penetration worldwide. According to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration of a rural area, the number of non-farming jobs grows by 0.2 to 0.3 percent.

WiMAX technology can bring 4G broadband services to rural areas, which are typically a last priority for wireless carriers but most in need of these services. A large-scale WiMAX network can be successfully deployed and activated in six to 15 months, depending on the size of the deployment.

“WiMAX enables operators to meet stimulus goals directly, namely bringing affordable 4G broadband services to underserved areas very rapidly and cost-effectively while also generating a substantial number of jobs,” said Kelley Dunne, CEO and co-founder of Digital Bridge Communications. “We are particularly pleased to have an opportunity to bring the portability and mobility benefits of such services to rural areas first for a change – often before nearby urban areas receive such services. And we can bring this service to rural homes at about $200 each."

The WiMAX Forum's membership base represents a WiMAX ecosystem, which supports the more than 518 WiMAX network deployments in 146 countries.

– CED’s Brian Santo contributed to this report

More Broadband Direct 12/01/09:
•  NCTA offers 'Adoption Plus' plan to leap digital divide
•  Reports: GE, Vivendi work on deal while Comcast waits
•  Clearwire enters promised lands
•  Report: Google in talks to bring pay TV to YouTube
•  Suddenlink names Fox SVP, chief accounting officer
•  Forum: WiMAX dominates broadband grants
•  NTIA gives broadband grants to 6 more states
•  Broadcom to pay $178M for Dune Networks
•  Sprint to stop selling certain push-to-talk phones
•  Broadband Briefs for 12/01/09



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