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BellSouth Launches Pre-WiMAX Service

Computer users in a Georgia community are being introduced to broadband WiMAX this week as BellSouth launches its fixed wireless service and WiMAX modems hit electronics stores.

Because the WiMAX Forum is still putting the finishing touches on the WiMAX standard, the technology is officially called "pre-WiMAX," but providers of both the service and the hardware generally are guaranteeing the high-speed solution will operate after the standard is set.

BellSouth said the service, which it has dubbed "FastAccess," is available in select areas of Athens. The former Baby Bell indicated that it targeted Athens for initial deployment of the service because the University of Georgia is situated there. The firm noted that FastAccess transmits between permanent radio towers and small desktop modems.

Two versions of the service are being offered, one at $24.95, the other at $39.95 a month. Downstream speeds range from 384Kbps to 1.5Mbps. BellSouth requires users to have modems for the service; it is offering a $99.99 modem for FastAccess.

The company also said it will offer fixed wireless broadband in certain Florida cities later this year. Bellsouth has been testing the service in Daytona and Palatka, Florida.