Clear's wireless play shows failings of LMDS, claim rivals

Clear's competitors say its new wireless Internet service simply proves Clear's other wireless offering, LMDS, is too expensive for a large-scale roll-out.

Clear's competitors say its new wireless Internet service simply proves Clear’s other wireless offering, LMDS, is too expensive for a large-scale roll-out.

LMDS (local multipoint distribution service) replaces the need for the so-called “last mile” of copper wire using microwave transmissions.

“The technology is good for what it does, but a transmission tower for LMDS would cost ten times what it costs us for our towers,” says Radionet chief executive Leicester Chatfield.

LMDS uses the 26Ghz spectrum range. Clear bought rights to such spectrum early this year from Denver-based Formus International.

LMDS could offer speeds of up to 2Mbit/s over two to four kilometer distances.

In March Clear claimed the target market for LMDS would be small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) up to large corporates. Now, it seems, the SME end of the market will be serviced by Clear Wireless, which “puts a fast dedicated Internet connection within the grasp of small and medium-sized business” according to Clear’s Internet access product manager, Richard Bright.

Clear Wireless uses the same unlicensed 2.4Ghz spread spectrum brand as RadioNet and Walker Wireless.

“This is straight Internet connection, no voice component, although we may look at that side of things in the future,” says Clear’s communications manager, Rochelle Lockley. She says it won’t conflict with Clear’s LMDS service which, it is intended, will provide voice and high-speed data wirelessly.

“That’s aimed at a different market segment.”

Chatfield says the new service is “a vindication of the technology and the spectrum if you like, but we’re not too worried”.

He describes it as a “pat on the back” for Radionet as it proves they were on the right track all along.

Walker Wireless CEO Paul Ryan wonders whether this move means LMDS doesn’t work. “It’s expensive, and the gear they’re using for [Clear Wireless] is also expensive."

Clear Wireless will be offered at a cost of around $500 a month for unlimited access.

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