Comcast & TWC Launch Mobile WiMAX

Comcast launched mobile WiMAX service, yesterday in Atlanta, following an earlier launch this month in Portland, Oregon.

Comcast, the nation’s largest MSO with 24.6 million cable customers, has invested just north of $1B in Clear. Time Warner Cable, the 2nd largest cable operator in the U.S. with 14.7 million customers in 27 states, has invested $550 million on Clearwire’s network while Bright House Networks has invested 100 million.

TWC, Comcast and Brighthouse will likely integrate mobile WiMax in a service package with its cable modem service.

Comcast is selling two different data cards and service plans:

  • Comcast High-Speed 2go Metro service uses provides a USB dongle for WimAX service within the 4G metro coverage area.
  • Comcast High-Speed 2go Nationwide service delivers both metro 4G service plus coast-to-coast access on Sprint’s national 3G network. The 3g/4G dongle automatically switches between available Clear and ‘s 3G networks.

The $49.99 Fast Pack Metro service includes Comcast’s 12 Mbps home Internet service, a free WiFi router for mobility and extended coverage in the home, and 4G service that will provide up to 4 Mbps download speed when customers are on the go. For an additional $20 per month, consumers can upgrade to the Fast Pack Nationwide service that includes the same services plus nationwide 3G mobile network access.

Time Warner Cable expects to launch WiMax services in four markets before the end of the year, starting this fall in Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas, reports Unstrung.

“You will hear a lot more about this as we build up to the launch this fall,” said TWC president and CEO Glenn Britt, who revealed the news this morning during the MSO’s second-quarter earnings call. He didn’t name the other two markets being planned.

“Cord cutting is real,” TWC chief operating officer Landel Hobbs said, wondering if that would change once the economy improves. But the trend puts credence in the company’s decision to pursue a wireless strategy, he said.

So far the cable operators have been content to ride on the Clear infrastructure, which mainly uses cellular towers and rooftops. The elephant in the room may be the Comcast/TWC infrastructure, which could potentially hang mobile Wimax hotspots and lower backhaul costs.

BTW, posting is light this week since I’m traveling down the Oregon coast and wireless connectivity is (happily) sparce.

Gone Fishing

I’m traveling down the Oregon coast this week. I haven’t taken a vacation in…I don’t know how long. I’ll take my netbook, Kindle and phone, but news stories may be thin this week, at least until I get back on Friday.

Thanks for your understanding. Wishing you all a cool summer!

– Sam Churchill

Verizon + Boingo = Public WiFi

Verizon said today that it’s inked a partnership with Wi-Fi hotspot service provider Boingo Wireless that will allow its broadband customers to use Boingo hotspots across the country, an agreement that was first reported by The Wall Street Journal back in May, notes Om Malik:

And if the rumors of an Apple Tablet that uses the 3G and 4G networks are indeed true, Verizon is smart to get a Wi-Fi network in place — so as to not repeat the mistakes of AT&T, which spent $275 million to buy another large Wi-Fi provider, Wayport, to bulk up its wireless capabilities.

And don’t forget the WiFi-enabled ebook from Barnes and Noble.

Verizon Wireless reported 87.7 million customers at the end of the first half of 2009, an increase of 27.7 percent year over year and 7.9 percent on a pro forma basis. Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless company in the U.S. in terms of total customers and revenues.

iPhone App for Comcast

Comcast’s new iPhone and iPod touch app allows subscribers to check and send e-mail, listen to their VoIP voicemails, check out TV listings, and more, says Ars Technica.

After you log in with your Comcast username and password), you can access your Comcast Inbox, your Address Book, your Digital Voice info, the TV listings, and Comcast’s On Demand content. The Inbox not only displays your Comcast e-mail, it also shows how many voicemails you might have waiting in your VoIP box.

Overall, the app is a handy companion to your already-existing Comcast services—assuming you actually subscribe to all those things. Most of us on staff don’t, though, so many of the app’s features are a bit of overkill for us. But hey, it’s free. Go download it and give it a try.

Bluetooth Connected TVs from LG

Chipmaker Broadcom today announced that LG Electronics has integrated their advanced Bluetooth chips into a new line of digital televisions that allow consumers to connect other devices, such as wireless stereo headphones and cell phones, to the TV set.

LGE plans to bring audio streaming and digital media sharing to consumers. Broadcom’s Bluetooth technology also positions the cell phone for future applications such as functioning as a TV remote control or a QWERTY keyboard input device for TV-based widgets. LG is expected to allow music and other audio to play over TV speaker systems and provide ‘picture push’ capabilities that enable users to wirelessly move digital photos and other graphic files from Bluetooth-enabled camera phones.

Broadcom estimates that the total available market for embedded Bluetooth solutions will be more than 938 million units by 2012. Broadcom, having shipped over one billion Bluetooth products, offers a large family of Bluetooth silicon and software solutions for mobile phones, PCs, wireless headphones and other applications.

Many CE vendors are also adding Wi-Fi to provide easy access to multimedia content on digital TVs, set-top boxes and Blu-ray Disc players. Broadcom has integrated its wireless hardware and software into several video platforms to accelerate the development of connected consumer electronics.

JSAT: Next Generation

Hughes Network Systems today announced that SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation has selected Hughes to supply its next-generation 2-way broadband satellite gear. Hughes says that their HX260 Mesh and HX200 satellite routers will provide up to twice the throughput performance of their previous HX System, delivering Voice over IP and other services and can service as a local network hub.

It uses the DVB-S2 standard for 2-way satellite communications. The DVB-S2 performance gain over DVB-S is around 30%, adding MPEG-4 AVC for HDTV service in the same capacity that supported only standard definition.

JSATis the largest satellite operator in Asia, with 12 satellites covering all of Japan and Asia, as well as Oceania and North America. JSAT was ranked the fifth largest satellite operator in the world, by 2006 fiscal year revenue.

JSat also plans to establish a major presence in the MSS (Mobile Satellite Services) market through JSAT MOBILE Communications, which was established in October 2008. These MSS services will be made possible by the last generation of Inmarsat I-4 satellites. Each I-4 can generate 19 wide beams and more than 200 narrow spot beams.

JSAT is also a 50% equity owner of Horizons Satellite, a joint venture with Intelsat, with satellites positioned over the continental United States. In December 2007, their Ku-band Horizons-2 satellite was launched.

J-Sat works with KVH and ViaSat, which also have a joint effort to provide maritime broadband and in-flight broadband over ViaSat Yonder. A value-added reseller, Satcom Direct, sells both services.

The TracPhone V7 and mini-VSAT Broadband from KVH Industries is putting a dent in traditional VSAT solutions for craft like fishing boats, says the company.

Introduced less than 2 years ago, the marine V-Sat system recently shipped its 500th system, almost 10% of the installed base of maritime VSAT systems, according to the “2008 Maritime VSAT Markets Report” published by COMSYS. The number of VSAT operators who now target the maritime market has grown dramatically from around ten a few years ago to over 90 today.