23 Jan TDS claims revolutionary, high-speed wireless service
Madison, Wis. – The term revolutionary was applied to TDS Telecommunication Corp.’s new WiMAX signal in Madison, but what does that mean to the 65,000 Madison area customers that initially will have access to digital phone and broadband service?
Since those 65,000 customers will include entrepreneurs, telecommuters, gamers, and others with the need for speed, TDS chief executive David Wittwer believes it will be their preferred communications solution.
“Offering a high-speed Internet product that is easy to use and install, as well as having incredibly fast upload speeds will be a welcome change for business and residential consumers,” he said.
The new WiMAX product, not to be confused with Wireless Fidelity or Wi-Fi, promises to deliver both digital voice and high-speed Internet service over one connection in a customer’s home or business.
Speeds will depend on the service a customer selects. TDS will be delivering up to 6 megabytes of Internet speeds in combination with the fastest upload speed available at 6Mb/3Mb in Madison. In other words, WiMax will be offered in three levels: 6 megabytes per second downstream/3 Mbps upstream. Other local cable and phone Internet services do not exceed 1 Mbps.
According to TDS, its speeds will make the service attractive for home-based businesses and electronic gamers who TDS says will have access to “near symmetric” download and upload speeds.
But high-speed broadband proponent James Carlini, an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and president of Carlini & Associates, cautioned consumers not to get “super excited” about what amounts to wireless DSL. Carlini was in Madison recently to discuss multiple gigabyte technology for metropolitan area networks and intelligent business campuses.
“If it is 20 to 50 Mbps to each user, that is significant,” Carlini said, “but if it is only a substitute for copper-based DSL, it is not as earth-shattering as they pump it up to be.
“Basically, the WIMax is offering what amounts to wireless DSL. If someone who cannot get DSL can now get WiMAX-based DSL services, it is good from a ubiquitous coverae standpoint, but nothing else.”
According to TDS, the WiMAX service also will offer broadband to customers that TDS cannot reach today with its traditional DSL offering.
Invested in broadband
TDS said last week it has invested millions of dollars constructing the WiMAX service, and recently added that it has strategically placed network transmission equipment on six towers on the east and west sides of Madison. For the past 10 months, TDS employees in Madison have been privately testing the WiMAX service in their homes, and more than 40 employees currently use the service.
The wireless signal that will deliver WiMAX is a secured, licensed spectrum owned by TDS, the company said. The transmission signal will covers a two-mile distance around each of the seven towers and reach roughly 55,000 residential and 10,000 business addresses in Madison. The service will work best for customers in limited-obstruction areas, and prospective consumers must be aware that signal strength has some geographic limitations, according to Lisa Cvengros, executive vice president and chief technology officer for TDS. The company expects topography to be less of an issue as it increases coverage with more access points.
TDS is in talks with private tower operators to expand coverage by securing additional tower access. Full deployment would cover a 35-mile radius around Madison.
Employee feedback helped improve the installation and service provisioning during early deployments, Cvengros said. Customers will receive the signal from either an indoor window unit antenna about the size of a small book, or an outside roof-top antenna about the size of a large dinner plate.
The signal is dedicated to the end-user and cannot be shared by other users in the way people receive Wi-Fi “while sitting at the local coffee shop,” she said.
The product will be marketed as Wireless High-Speed Internet and will first be offered to customers in areas where signal strength is greatest.TDS technicians will install the service in scheduled visits, and the strongest tower signal will be used for transmission of both Internet and phone service.
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