As larger MSOs and big telcos map out their high-speed wireless plans, Oregon's independent BendBroadband announced it has launched what it claims is the fastest wireless data network in the U.S., able to deliver a peak of 15 Mbps under optimal conditions.
The Bend, Ore.-based operator said it "dramatically expanded" its service footprint in central Oregon with the first U.S. deployment of the HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access Plus) wireless broadband network standard, upgradable to the LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G wireless platform. BendBroadband is currently offering wireless data services and plans to offer a wireless voice plans in early 2010.
While the service delivers a theoretical max of 15-Mbps, the company said, average download speeds depending on customer location will be between 6 and 8 Mbps.
"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," BendBroadband president and CEO Amy Tykeson said in a statement. "Until now, many rural central Oregonians have had little or no access to broadband. We are proud to lead the nation with the first HSPA+ deployment with the country's fastest wireless broadband service."
BendBroadband's wireless network extends miles beyond its cable footprint to encompass Madras to the north and La Pine to the south. The new service also provides east-west coverage from Prineville to Sisters.
The operator is offering fixed-location and mobile broadband data services. Home and business high-speed Internet customers will use a BendBroadband-supplied fixed-location modem, which includes a wireless router to provide Wi-Fi throughout the customer's location. For mobile Internet, a USB device is used to access BendBroadband's wireless broadband network 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 at $19.99 per month when bundled with the home or business fixed-modem wireless Internet service.
The operator plans to launch telephone service in early 2010, positioned as an alternative to traditional landline service. BendBroadband 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.
Larger MSOs have taken different tacks on wireless. Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are investors in Clearwire, which is majority-owned by Sprint Nextel. Cox Communications is going it alone, for the most part, building out a network with a migration path to LTE longer term; initially, however, Cox will wholesale Sprint's 3G network for faster time-to-market.
Cablevision Systems, meanwhile, has been deploying a Wi-Fi service -- with up to 3 Mbps downstream, accessible to broadband customers for no additional charge -- across its New York metro footprint.