An almost decade-long effort to bring an unknown wireless broadband technology to the U.S. is set to bear fruit next month in Florida after XG Technology Inc. scored a $375 million infrastructure deal backed by a secretive Swiss billionaire. Earlier this week the Financial Times said Sarasota, Fla.-based XG scored a $375 million deal from an investment firm owned by Johan Bohman to start deploying XG’s low-power wireless base stations. So far I’m taking this story with a heaping grain of salt, especially since other reports call this guy a reclusive Swedish billionaire, and there are allegations of fraud regarding a member of the company’s management team, plus uncertainty about the technology.
XG, which is listed on the AIM market in London, is pushing a low-power, long-range wireless technology called wMAX that they’re pitching as a competitor to cellular and WiMAX networks. They already have handsets in the works, and FCC approval. According to the company, its signal range at 900MHz is 7.55 miles, compared with 2.3 miles for GSM, 2.46 miles for WiMAX and 2.53 miles for UMTS (3G), all using equal average power.
The goal is to roll out a VoIP service in South Florida this year and launch data and modem services in 2009, according to the Financial Times. I’ve called the company to learn more, but have not heard back. If it can deliver a low-power, mobile broadband service that would be a cheaper alternative to cellular and possibly to other wireless broadband efforts, that’s pretty sweet, but it seems a little too good to be true.