AT&T Mulls More WiMax in Palin Country
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) tells Unstrung that it might launch more WiMax sites in the Frozen North, but notes that WiMax isn't a "primary focus" for delivering fixed wireless broadband services in the rest of the U.S.
Back in August, AT&T's CTO said WiMax was a "top candidate" as an alternative to copper for delivering wireless broadband to rural areas. (See AT&T: WiMax Is Top Candidate for Rural Broadband and AT&T WiMax Heading South?)
But an AT&T spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the carrier is largely satisfied with its existing mix of wired and wireless technologies, though she added that WiMax could still be useful in some hard-to-wire rural areas.
"We’re currently reviewing the possibility of additional sites in Alaska," the spokeswoman told Unstrung via email. "We may have more to announce in the coming months."
She added: "WiMax is currently not a primary focus, but our trials and deployments to date have shown that WiMax does have potential as an alternative for delivery of fixed broadband service. WiMax is well-suited for deployment in challenging environments like Alaska, where landline-based solutions may not always be practical."
AT&T currently has a fixed WiMax deployment in Juneau, Alaska, using 2.3 GHz equipment from Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR). It also has 22 2.3 GHz licenses covering some Southern states, but that doesn't necessarily mean AT&T will launch WiMax services below the Mason-Dixon line. (See AT&T: Broadband in Alaska.)
"In our local service territory elsewhere in the U.S., we’ve trialed WiMax in a range of locations to test various solutions under a variety of environments," wrote the spokeswoman. "In most situations, though, we’re able to provide a range of broadband options, including U-verse, DSL, satellite, and 3G wireless services, to meet customer needs."
There is also less pressure on operators now to find an "alternative to copper" than there was in the summer. The economic downturn has started to lower the price of many commodities, including copper.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung