Comcast is suing a provider of wireless Internet service to condominiums
for what it claims is the company’s practice of stealing its high-speed Internet service and re-selling it to others.
Comcast filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against Frank Clark and his company, OceanNet in Ocean City, Maryland. OceanNet charges users $199 for 1 Year of service (about $16.58 a month for shared WiFi service) or $8.95 a day.
The lawsuit claims that OceanNet’s business model is to illegally tap into Comcast’s primary service lines and then resell the signal to OceanNet customers. Comcast claims Clark had taken out residential Internet accounts in his name at 35 different addresses. Comcast alleges Clark used the modems from these residential accounts to set up commercial accounts for OceanNet.
Comcast’s residential terms of service contain a provision that the service can only be used at the address of the user.
Ira P. Rothken, an Internet law expert and founder of the Rothken Law Firm in Novato, Calif., said he thought that would be one of the toughest arguments OceanNet would have to overcome.
“It sounds like Comcast has a strong case here,” Rothken said. “Especially since it deals with consumer accounts and monetizing them like he is an Internet service provider — basically reselling bandwith.”
On Thursday, Clark said he planned to fight the lawsuit and declined to comment on the specifics of the case. However, he said Comcast signals are often used to power wireless networks at places like Internet cafes and other businesses that charge users for access.
“This is a practice that happens throughout any city,” Clark said.
Cradle Point says beginning April 1, shipments of CradlePoint’s business-class routers, including the MBR800, MBR1000, and MBR1100 line of mobile broadband routers, CTR500 mobile broadband travel router, and CBA250 cellular broadband adapter, will have WiMAX compatibility built in.
Clearwire’s terms of service, in contrast to Comcast, appear much more liberal and actually encourage individuals to create WiFi hotspots using their wireless broadband backbone.
Clearwire today issued a press release launching the Clear Spot. With the Clear Spot, any “off-the-shelf” Wi-Fi enabled device such as an iPhone, notebook computer, or Nintendo DS among others, can connect to the Internet via the Clear 4G mobile WiMAX network. The CLEAR Spot router, manufactured by CradlePoint, will be available for $139 at CLEAR stores and authorized dealers or online at www.clear.com in early-April. The Silcon Forest has a brief review.
I walked into the Clearwire corporate office in Portland today and found that they wouldn’t have it until next Monday. I plan on getting one then and testing it around Portland.
You can use the mobile hotspot at home (with desktops, laptops or WiFi-enabled smartphones), or on the road. Unlimited 4Mbps service costs $50/month, without strings or contracts.
The Motorola USBw 100 WiMAX dongle can also be plugged directly into netbooks like the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. It features a 10.2 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, an Atom N280 CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth.
In Portland, a Clear mobile hotspot, a Netbook and a 4GB Eye-Fi card for digital cameras are making livecasting an affordable reality. Right now.