BendBroadband is set to join the slim ranks of cable companies that have introduced wireless service. The company is one of the first U.S. providers to commercially deploy HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access Plus) wireless technology.

The network extends beyond BendBroadband’s cable footprint to encompass not only Bend, but also several neighboring towns in central Oregon.

BendBroadband’s network is capable of maximum data rates of 15 Mbps under optimal conditions, though the company expects average download speeds will be between 6 and 8 Mbps.

HSPA+ can be an intermediary step toward LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology, estimated to have maximum throughput of about 100 Mbps.

BendBroadband said it intends to introduce home telephone service and wireless broadband in early 2010. With this new wireless technology, BendBroadband will also reach homes inside its cable footprint that have not been economically feasible to serve via the traditional fiber-coax cable infrastructure.

HSPA+ is a newer technology used by fewer than two dozen providers worldwide – so far. Many of the adopters are in Canada; they include Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility and Telus. In the U.S., T-Mobile is embracing the technology, and AT&T has been reported to be considering the option of using it.

Other cable operators that have launched wireless services are using other technologies; Cox Communications, for example, is launching with well-established – and slower – CDMA technology. (Cox, too, expects to migrate to LTE.)

BendBroadband’s wireless offering consists of three different products for both residential and business consumers: high-speed Internet, mobile broadband and telephone service. Home and business high-speed Internet customers will use a BendBroadband-supplied fixed location modem. The modem includes a wireless router, which also provides Wi-Fi throughout the customer’s location. For mobile Internet, a USB device is used to access BendBroadband’s wireless broadband network virtually anywhere in central Oregon.

Bundled prices for the fixed modem wireless Internet service range from $39.99 to $74.99 per month. Several mobile broadband plans are available, with prices starting as low as $19.99 per month when bundled with the home or business fixed modem wireless Internet service, the company said. For the telephone service coming in early 2010, the company will offer three plans, ranging from $18.99 to $38.99 per month. Options include unlimited local and long-distance calling, voicemail and 30 other features.

Amy Tykeson, president and CEO of BendBroadband, said: “Our significant investments in wireless service combined with our dedicated team of local employees enables us to deliver a best-of-breed broadband experience to our neighbors in the surrounding areas. Until now, many rural central Oregonians have had little or no access to broadband.”

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