TWC Upgrades WiMax to Business Class

WiMax: It's not just for residential subscribers anymore.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is trying to prove that out in Dallas, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls, Texas, with the launch of Business Class Mobile, a new tier that piggybacks on the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) WiMax network and is capable of tapping into 3G wireless networks. (See Cable Plays Clearwire Card.)

Texas is the first TWC region to get the new biz-class service, though the MSO promises to offer it in other markets later this year. TWC also has WiMax services available in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro, N.C.; and Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii. TWC says customers will also be able to access the new tiers in markets outside the Time Warner Cable footprint, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Seattle. (See TWC Does WiMax for Business.)

Based on Clearwire's build-out plan, TWC also expects to provide commercial wireless broadband services in New York, Boston, Washington, the San Francisco Bay Area, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Los Angeles.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), another Clearwire partner, also markets a version of its High-Speed 2go service that's tailored for business customers.

TWC said Business Class Mobile, which offers up to 6 Mbit/s down and 1 Mbit/s upstream in the MSO's WiMax service area, "eliminates the added expense and service limitations of pay-for-use, limited range Wi-Fi access in airports, hotels, and other locations."

The "pay-for-use" characterization is key, since offering "free" WiFi access as part of cable modem subscriptions is becoming a more important piece of TWC's mobile broadband strategy in recent weeks. (See MSO WiFi: Roam (If You Want To).)

According to a Website dedicated to the business offering, TWC is charging $65 per month for a "4G National Premium" tier that requires 4G/3G data cards, and $45 per month for "4G Premium" (for devices with embedded wireless capabilities). TWC offers a $15 per month discount to 4G National Premium customers and a $5 per month discount for 4G Mobile subs that subscribe to other TWC Business Class data services. Both service tiers come with unlimited data usage.

TWC is adding the tiers, which both come with unlimited data usage, as it (and other MSOs) continues to ramp up services tailored for small and mid-sized businesses. TWC added 9,000 commercial high-speed data subs in the first quarter of 2010, extending that total to 304,000. Its younger business voice category ended the period with 67,000 subs, up 11,000 year-on-year.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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