RealTime IT News

BellSouth Crams For Wireless Broadband Test

BellSouth plans to test-market wireless broadband service in Athens, Ga., this summer with hopes to expand the trials to selected areas of Florida by year's end. The announcement follows five years of trials of the technology.

Using Navini Networks' pre-WiMax equipment, BellSouth says customers will receive broadband speeds comparable to the company's landline DSL consumer service.

The system uses a non-line-of-sight modem to transmit signals to local radio towers, which then relay the signals to other towers using BellSouth's radio spectrum technology.

"BellSouth's latest wireless broadband initiative is the next logical step after a technical trial," Keith Cowan, BellSouth's president of marketing and product management, said in a statement. "Wireless broadband complements BellSouth's wireline strategy, and aids in our efforts to continuously extend the reach of our broadband service."

Nadine Randall, a spokeswoman for BellSouth, said the company had no projected number of subscribers for the Athens trials, nor was it announcing any future markets beyond Florida.

BellSouth has been conducting technical trials in Daytona and Palatka, Fla. Overall, the company has been testing wireless broadband technology since 2000, beginning with the company's first-generation trial in Houma, La.

Randall said one of the reasons Athens was chosen as a test site is the large student population at the University of Georgia.

"BellSouth recognizes that college students are much more comfortable with wireless service," she said.

The company specifically plans to target college students for the service by allowing them to suspend their service during summer vacation. During that time, students will pay a nominal charge per month to maintain their account, and will then be able to re-activate service at no charge upon their return to Athens.