Clearwire Goes European

Broadband wireless service provider startup quietly arrives in Belgium

August 9, 2005

2 Min Read
Clearwire Goes European

Broadband wireless service provider Clearwire LLC has made its first tentative steps into Europe, quietly launching a commercial network in Belgium, of all places.

The startup -- led by wireless pioneer Craig McCaw -- has deployed kit from NextNet Wireless Inc. that currently covers 60 percent of capital city Brussels and 75 percent of nearby town Mont St Guibert.

A spokeswoman at Clearwire Belgium declined to provide specific details of subscriber numbers but claims the company plans to expand the service throughout Belgium -- a nation otherwise known for its strong beer and celebrity underwear museum -- in the months ahead.

The move makes Clearwire something of a -- you guessed it -- pioneer. The operator is offering WiMax-style broadband wireless international services, albeit small-scale, before official product is even released. Despite all the big-name operators that have been expressing an interest in -- and even testing -- broadband wireless networks, there has been very little talk about developing a global footprint for Wimax yet.

The service uses "pre-WiMax" kit in the 3.5GHz spectrum band, and approximately 40 base stations have been deployed to date. Clearwire expects to continue to use equipment from NextNet once official WiMax products are available later this year (see WiMax Lab Opens Its Doors). Clearwire has already expressed its commitment to rolling out a future WiMax network (see Intel, Clearwire Do WiMax).

The company touts two different data packages for its Belgian service, offering downlink speeds of up to 1 Mbit/s and uplink speeds of up to 256 kbit/s, or a faster package of 3 Mbit/s on the downlink and 512 kbit/s on the uplink. Monthly tariffs range from €28.99 (US$35.83) for the slower connection, up to €78.99 ($97.64).

Back in February Unstrung revealed that Clearwire is building itself a presence in Europe following a bevy of regional launches in the U.S. (see Clearwire Invests in Europe, McCaw Clears the Wires, and Clearwire Launches Service). To date, the company has deployed broadband wireless networks in Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Fla; Abilene, Midland, and Odessa, Texas; Duluth and St.Cloud, Minn; Eau Claire, Wisc; Eugene, Medford, and Roseburg, Ore; and Merced, Modesto, Stockton, and Visalia, Calif.

Clearwire expects to launch future services in Canada and Mexico.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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