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BellSouth Maxes in Georgia

BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) is the latest big-name service provider to jump on the WiMax bandwagon, announcing plans to launch a wireless broadband trial in Athens, Ga., this August (see BellSouth Maxes With Navini).

The carrier is to deploy fixed-wireless kit from Navini Networks Inc., tagged by the vendor as "pre-WiMax" equipment.

“We will install several base stations,” says a BellSouth spokeswoman. “The number of subscribers will depend on where the stations are located, how many customers are interested in the service, and how the trial proceeds.”

The trial is expected to last “at least seven months,” and will expand “to several cities in Florida later in the year.”

BellSouth -- which owns 40 percent of Cingular Wireless LLC -- declined to comment on any long-term plans for WiMax technology. WiMax is based on the 802.16 specification from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE). The initial fixed-wireless version of WiMax is based on 802.16d; initial products are expected late in 2005 or early next year. Mobile WiMax products, based on 802.16e, are likely to hit the market in 2007.

A glut of Tier 1 carriers -- including Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE), and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) -- has already outlined plans to trial early WiMax services. (See DT Preps WiMax Trials, France Telecom Trials 802.16, and Sprint Firms Up WiMax Plans.)

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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