As I mentioned previously, drug while we were in California for Christmas I was introduced to a new technology that my inlaws are now using for broadband Internet access. The technology seems quite interesting, and seems poised to take the broadbane Internet market by storm.
WiMax is a wireless technology that basically uses a cell-phone signal to cover the last mile (or the final stage of delivering a product, in this case broadband Internet, to a consumer). All a home user needs is a WiMax modem that must be positioned to receive a strong cell phone signal. The lights on the top of the modem represent the strength of the cell phone signal (3 ligts = 3 bars, just like a cell phone). The modem plugs directly into the network jack on the computer (or router). That’s it. Basic users can set it up by themselves at home without help.
The company that is providing the service in Stockton (where my in-laws live) is called Clearwire. When we signed up with them in December, they provided 512Kbps service for as low as 24.99 a month. Now it looks like their minimum plan is for 768 Kbps service for as low as 29.99 per month. (You can either purchase your modem up front for $150, or you can rent it for $4.99 per month.)
In the end, if you are paying $20 bucks a month for a dialup provider, plus paying a fee to your phone company for a dedicated phone line, you may find it is cheaper to pay Clearwire $35.00 a month for broadband access, as opposed to around that for slow dialup and an extra phone line.
The technology has a lot of potential. Coupled with Vonage or another VoIP provider, you could do away with your home phone completley, and take your phone service with you on the go.
Clearwire is partnered with Intel and Bell Canada. Intel intends on releasing a chip that has integrated WiMax by the end of 2006 (maybe early 2007). It would be as easy to use as WiFi, the currently incorporated technology, but would be much more moble. With WiFi chips, you can only go about 300 feet from the base station; with WiMax, distances between 3-5 miles are realistic.
With WiMax technology on enough towers, this means your broadband internet access can be as mobile as your cellular phone. And because the so-called last mile (see above) is wireless, it is much cheaper to provide, which in turn means it should be much cheaper for consumers. (Current deals at Clearwire have 1.5Mbps at less than $32.00/moth for the first year when paid annually in advance.)
This service isn’t available in Utah, where we live, but I’m keeping my eye on it. Watch for it in your area. Not only is it cool, but it could save you a bunch of money, and give you high-quality broadband Internet access.