Seeing potential for WiMax to attract short-term customers,
Xanadoo Company LLC is preparing what it believes will be the first prepaid wireless broadband service in the United States.
Xanadoo already offers seven WiMax plans with contract lengths of three to five years. Starting in May, the operator wants to add short-term plans, with customers paying up-front for 7 to 90 days of access.
The prepaid model is familiar for landline users (think phone cards), and it's starting to get some play in the wireless broadband sphere. Bridgewater Systems Corp. came to CTIA Wireless 2008 yesterday announcing a prepaid option for its WiMax policy control products. (See Bridgewater Goes Prepaid.)
Bridgewater is probably not at the heart of Xanadoo's offering, though, since Xanadoo CEO Mark Pagon says he's not familar with that announcement.
For about two years, Xandaloo has been serving up WiMax to Texas, Oklahoma, and Illinois, attracting 14,000 customers despite that hair. (See Xanadoo Boasts Subscribers.)
Part of Xanadoo's plan has been to reach the customers that don't like the bundled cable or DSL subscriptions -- twentysomethings who use cellphones in place of landlines, for instance. "The profile of our customer is younger and the lifestyle is different from most of our communities," Pagon says.
WiMax could delve further into that territory by going prepaid. The service could also reach credit-strapped consumers who aren't 100 percent sure they can sustain a monthly bill, or business travelers who might be stationed in the area for just a few weeks.
Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire LLC, the heavy hitters in U.S. WiMax, haven't talked about prepaid plans so far. But they've got all week at CTIA to come up with something.
Separately, Xanadoo announced it's been using Cisco Systems Inc. equipment in its WiMax network. That is, it's been using gear from Navini Networks, which got acquired by Cisco in December. (See Cisco Buys Navini for $330M.)
It's a rare U.S. win for Cisco's WiMax group. "We put our focus on the emerging markets. This is a move into public network radio, which we are not the strongest on," says John Hindle, director of service provider mobility marketing at Cisco.
Among Cisco's recent WiMax wins is a nationwide deployment by Max Telecom, due to be completed by the end of 2009. (See Bulgaria Rolls Out WiMax.)
â€” Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading