Blog Post

WiMAX Broadband Is Coming To the Boonies

[qi:080] Globalstar, (s GSAT) a Miliptas, Calif.-based satellite services provider, has received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to offer wireless WiMAX services using its spectrum. Earlier this year I wrote about Denver-based Open Range Communications, which got a hefty $267 million loan from the USDA to promote broadband in the boonies. They had a deal with Globalstar to use satellite maker’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority. That little deal needed the FCC’s blessing and now that that has happened, the two partners can go ahead and start selling broadband to about 500 rural communities.

Open Range is still keeping a low profile. All you can tell about the company is that they have access to $105 million in private equity. Bill Beans Jr., a veteran of the CLEC business, is the CEO of this company, while Gregory Slemons, formerly chief network officer at AT&T Wireless, is the chief operating officer. The plan is to sell 1.5 Mbps connection for $40 a month and unlimited voice for about $30 a month. When the service will go live– that is anybody’s guess.

4 Responses to “WiMAX Broadband Is Coming To the Boonies”

  1. Telecom observer

    I doubt very much any of the equipment vendors want anything to do with this. Look at the spectrum — two separate bands of ATC spectrum, very funky. I believe they’re using “WiMAX” as a buzzy term, rather than to denote actual gear certified by The WiMAX Forum.

    Just look at the speeds they’re offering: 1.5/512. Not at all 4G, as they claim on their web site. Compare this to the Xohm launch in Baltimore with average speeds of 4/2.

    Of course, they’re not even “offering” those speeds — they have no product. They’ve been searching for sales partners and distributors for months now: “Open Range will be evaluating candidates to become dealers in its communities. Currently we are requesting inquiries for Northern Colorado – specifically Ft. Collins, Greeley, Loveland and Longmont.”

    That message has been there since May.

  2. Jesse Kopelman

    @Telecom observer

    Clearly the network will be built out, and likely managed, by an equipment vendor. Slemons’ time at AT&T Wireless was marked by massive outsourcing of network design and deployment functions. I think the real (business) story here is who wins the contract.

  3. Telecom observer

    Bill Beans was president and COO of ICG Communications and responsible for day-to-day operations of the company. ICG’s stock tanked in 2000 to less than $2 per share from above $39 per share just six months prior, after the company revealed severe customer service problems and cut its growth forecasts way down from previous guidance.

    Beans was personally named as a defendant in a shareholder lawsuit alleging securities fraud. The plaintiffs argued that he encouraged inflated line counts, an important metric for Wall Street in determining the health of LECs. Beans and his co-defendant, former ICG Chairman and CEO J. Shelby Bryan, settled out of court for $18 million.

    Bean’s new company, Open Range Communications, had just 15 employees as of May. Hardly sufficient to build out a WiMAX network of the scale they’re aiming for.