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Alvarion, the world’s leading provider of WiMAX and wireless broadband solutions, today announced it was selected by U.S. broadband wireless operator, Open Range Communications, for the nation’s largest Rural Utilities Service (RUS) funded deployment spanning 17 states, 546 rural communities, and reaching up to 6 million people. With this new broadband wireless network, Open Range will begin offering state-of-the-art 4G services to un-served and underserved customers across rural America in the fourth quarter of this year.

Under the terms of the contract, expected to be more than US$100 million over five years, Alvarion will provide radio access equipment, customer devices (CPE) and systems integration.

Some of the unique attributes available through this “always on” wireless broadband network include:

  • Simple and instant service activation
  • Voice and data capabilities
  • WiFi for connectivity to existing PCs
  • Highly secure network communication

Based on Alvarion’s WiMAX Forum Certified 802.16e BreezeMAX solution, the new Open Range 4G network, will give millions of rural Americans wireless broadband services where they live and work.

“Open Range’s unique business model focuses on delivering wireless high-speed Internet and voice services to un-served and underserved communities,” said Open Range founder and CEO, Bill Beans Jr.

Alvarion was the first WiMAX equipment supplier to receive USDA acceptance as well as “Buy American” status from the USDA RUS for two of its BreezeMAX base stations in July 2008. Both RUS and “Buy American” designations are required for operators requesting federal funds from the Rural Broadband Access Loan program for the purpose of purchasing and deploying broadband systems.

Alvarion offers a complete line of RUS-accepted solutions with “Buy American” status using a range of unlicensed, semi-licensed and licensed frequencies. Alvarion says you can build your rural wireless network using 3.65, 5.3, 5.4, 5.8, 4.9, 2.3 or 2.5 GHz and qualify for funding by using RUS-accepted Alvarion solutions if you are currently working on projects to bring wireless broadband access to rural communities or have plans to develop such projects.

Within the next five years, Open Range intends to serve 546 communities with portable and eventually mobile voice and Internet services, making its services initially available to approximately six million people. In addition to portability, they will offer a minimum speeds of 1.5 Mbps down and 512 kbps up for less than $40 per month with voice less than $30 per month, including unlimited nationwide calling.

Open Range’s Mobile WiMAX solution will connect customers through licensed spectrum. But it’s not just any licensed spectrum.

The FCC approved for portions of the S band between 2.0 and 2.2 GHz for the creation of Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) networks in connection with Ancillary Terrestrial Components (ATC). There are presently a number of companies attempting to deploy such networks, including ICO and TerreStar.

Open Range will lease mobile satellite spectrum from Globalstar under Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) authority granted by the Federal Communications Commission in October 2008. The ATC authority allows Globalstar to use 11 MHz of its 1.6/2.4 GHz satellite radio frequencies for a complementary terrestrial wireless service.

Globalstar was assigned the 1610-1615.5 MHz and 2487.5-2493 MHz band for Globalstar ATC. The FCC modified Globalstar’s license to permit use of WiMAX, allowing Open Range Communications to deploy their rural broadband service. Globalstar holds a space station license for the Globalstar 1.6/2.4 GHz MSS system via Low Earth Orbit satellites.

FCC rulemaking permits Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) licensees in the 2 GHz (1990-2025 MHz and 2165-2200 MHz) bands (where ICO and Terrastar operate), the L-band (1525-1544 MHz/1545-1559 MHz) and 1626.5-1645.5 MHz/1646.5-1660.5 MHz) bands (where Inmarsat and Skyterra operate), and the “Big LEO” (1610-1626.5 MHz and 2483.5-2500 MHz) bands (where Globalstar and Iridium operate).

Globalstar and ICO are currently up and running. TerreStar-1 is scheduled for launch on July 1, 2009.

Last month the European Commission awarded bandwidth to two companies to deliver S-band mobile data satellite services (MSS) across the EU. The winners, UK-based Inmarsat and Ireland-based Solaris Mobile, gain 30MHz of S-band spectrum for 18 years. They must launch services, such as phone and mobile TV offerings, within two years.

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