WiMAX on a gondola ride in Amsterdam?
A commercial network launched in Amsterdam on Tuesday is the first in Europe to use a mobile version of the WiMAX standard to allow users to surf the Web at high speeds while on the move, operator Worldmax said.
The broadband wireless network is aimed at competing with telecom operators KPN, Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) and T-Mobile, the privately held Dutch firm said.
It is similar to using a mobile phone network and differs from networks using earlier WiMAX technology, which required users to be stationary.
The network initially covers just the city center of Amsterdam, but Worldmax said it plans to extend it across the country in coming years.
The company is a potential threat to mobile operators increasingly looking to data usage to drive growth as revenue from voice calls levels off or falls.
Worldmax Chief Executive Jeanine van der Vlist said a nationwide rollout was a task similar to building a new mobile phone network, adding the company would need about 3,000 sites to cover the Netherlands.
The total cost of building the nationwide network will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Worldmax, whose investors include Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Greenfield Capital, would not reveal financial or subscriber targets.
The company will charge about 20 euros ($31) per month for a wireless broadband connection for laptop computers with unlimited amount of data.
With comparable speeds to broadband, a lower price and no long-term contract, Van der Vlist said Worldmax expects to gain customers from mobile operators but eventually also attract new customer groups such as teenagers, which at the moment cannot afford mobile broadband.