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6/13/2007
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WiMax Networks Go Live In Nine Northeast Cities

Horizon Wi-Com said metro-area coverage has been completed in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Richmond and Cincinnati.

Horizon Wi-Com, a start-up WiMax company, has deployed a high-speed broadband network in nine Northeast Region U.S. cities. The supplier of the WiMax equipment, Navini Networks, said Tuesday the IEEE 802.16e-compatible gear is already serving customers in each of the cities.

With plans commercial service will get underway in a few months, the Horizon Wi-Com service could have a disruptive impact on cities struggling to get citywide Wi-Fi service up and running.

The deployment, carried out also with engineering construction firm Black & Veatch, has been completed in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Richmond and Cincinnati. The networks are live and already serving customers on a trial basis in each of the cities, Navini said.

Horizon Wi-Com said the high-speed access will be available "in markets containing approximately 70 million POPs [points of presence]."

The WiMax deployment, in the 2.3 GHZ spectrum band, of which the networking standard operates, will likely present a competitive challenge to cities like Cincinnati, which has deployed a Wi-Fi network, and Philadelphia, which has begun to deploy its citywide Wi-Fi network.

"Citywide Wi-Fi is not a realistic way of providing broadband," said Sai Subramanian, Navini's vice president of product management and strategic marketing, in an interview. "Wi-Fi is a good mechanism in the home."

Navini, which has supplied equipment for a large regional WiMax network in Australia, said a software upgrade to MobileWiMax will enable Horizon Wi-Com to implement the first wide area network in major U.S. cities. Navini said full commercial launch will begin after the completion of WiMax Forum Wave 2 certification.

Navini's Ripwave MX8 platform, which is certified for 802.16e mobile WiMax, combines Mobile WiMax with Smart Beamforming technology and beamformed MIMO.

In an interview, Tim Cummings, project manager, Black & Veatch, said a customer trial period is already underway in the target cities with "user-friendly" commercial rollout to end user customers planned to get underway in three months.

Horizon Wi-Com has signed up for a user domain -- Omnis.com. However, the "temporary home page" has not yet been activated for consumer use.

In a statement, Ron Olexa, president of Horizon Wi-Com, said: "We are first. We have completed Phase I and are now trailing subscribers in some of the most exciting cities."

A principal in Horizon Wi-Com is Rajendra Singh, who made a fortune in several wireless companies including AirTouch, LLC International, Nextel Communications, mobile Satellite Ventures and Teligent. Neither Singh nor Olexa, who were both said to be traveling out-of-the-country, were not immediately available for comment.

Horizon Wi-Com acquired the WCS licenses from Verizon Communications last year, according to FCC records.

Wide area WiMax network technology is being deployed sporadically in the U.S. with the largest deployments planned by Sprint and Clearwire Corp. Sprint has been trailing WiMax in Chicago and Washington D.C. markets. Clearwire said last week that it offers service in 39 U.S. markets covering nearly 10 million persons.

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