You might not have heard of DigitalBridge Communications (DBC), but it’s the first in the United States to launch a commercial mobile WiMAX network using WiMAX Forum-certified 802.16e equipment at 2.5 GHz. The service is up and running in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
DBC actually offers fixed WiMAX in some other markets, but this marks a first for mobile WiMAX, which will allow customers to use the service while on the move. Covering the Jackson Hole market required deploying only about three base stations, which were provided by Alvarion.
Users of the system vary from business people to the many tourists visiting the area, said Kelley Dunne, CEO of DBC. Users can drive around with a Webcam and take video while talking and transmit the video and audio to another location, an application that often appeals to police departments, for one. Customers can get started for less than $40 a month with a 1-year contract.
In terms of applications or use cases, “we’re at the tip of the iceberg,” Dunne said. “We’re mobilizing the Internet.” But he doesn’t necessarily see it as a replacement to the wired Internet. “It’s such a different technology … it’s a whole new, different user experience.”
While Jackson Hole gets millions of visitors every year, DBC focuses on markets with a population of 150,000 or less – places that usually aren’t the first to get the latest and greatest technology. “The really neat thing about this is the economics of this have allowed us to deploy into these smaller markets,” he said. Other markets will be upgraded to full mobile-certified WiMAX; DBC so far has launched services in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Indiana and Virginia.
It’s an important time for the WiMAX industry, said Greg Daily, president at Alvarion, noting that rivals also made their way through the mobile WiMAX 2.5 GHz certification process at the same time for their base stations. Alvarion is engaged with large and small customers around the world.
DBC said its mobile WiMAX service is a plug-and-surf technology that allows customers to set up and begin using a high-speed Internet connection in a matter of minutes.