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Wireless Internet service coming.

Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

For consumers in Eugene and Springfield contemplating broadband Internet service, there's a new player in town.

Broadband mainstays cable and DSL now have competition in the form of wireless broadband from Clearwire, which is banking on portability, simplicity and price to gain a foothold in the market.

Clearwire, based in Kirkland, Wash., is officially launching its service today in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area, its 10th market. The company expects to be in 20 markets by the end of the year.

Like DSL and cable broadband, wireless offers fast connection speeds to the Internet - 1.5 megabytes per second on average. But it doesn't require connection to a telephone or cable line, or any additional wiring. The wireless modem just needs to be plugged into a power source and connected to a computer.

"It's truly plug and play," said Rob Kuehn, general manager for this market.

It's also portable, meaning a customer with a laptop could get an adapter cord and plug the modem into a car lighter, a useful feature for real estate dealers, contractors and sales people, Kuehn said.

"We sell Internet access to a person, not an address," Kuehn said.

The company is offering an introductory price of $20 a month for three months. After three months, residential plans will range from $30 to $38 a month with a $25 activation fee. A business package is $50 a month with a $50 activation fee.

The company is building its network as fast as it can. So far, it has moved into mostly medium-size markets: Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, Fla.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Abilene and Midland, Texas; Modesto, Stockton and Visalia, Calif.; and, in Oregon, Medford and Eugene.

Clearwire was founded by Craig McCaw, the telecommunications pioneer who developed Nextel and McCaw Cellular/Cellular One, which later became AT&T Wireless.

Clearwire uses wireless technology from NextNet Wireless that connects users to the Internet via licensed radio spectrum.

Clearwire's network transmits radio signals from a base site to a small modem, about the size of a paperback book, which connects a user's computer to the Internet.

The technology is reliable and secure, company officials said. During last year's hurricane season, for example, customers in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach remained online without problems, Kuehn said.

Clearwire has a kiosk at Valley River Center and plans to open a store on Coburg Road later this summer. It also sells its service at about eight computer stores in the market.

The company hopes to attract people who are using slower dial-up connections who want to move to broadband, and existing DSL and cable customers who are dissatisfied with the service, said Bill Snoeberger, vice president for small markets.

"We want to increase the market share of broadband and get our share," he said.
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Title Annotation:Business; Clearwire will provide connections that don't need a phone, cable or DSL line
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 29, 2005
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