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Jacksonville Goes Wireless With Clearwire

From Clearwire’s press release:

Clearwire officially launched its wireless, high-speed broadband Internet service in Jacksonville last week when company and community leaders cut through a ribbon of coaxial cable and telephone cord in front of the new Main Library site in downtown Jacksonville.

“Jacksonville now has a new choice for high speed Internet service that’s simple, affordable, and flexible,” said Clark Peterson, Clearwire’s president of Major markets. “Clearwire will break down the barriers of traditional broadband service offering consumers for the first time, high speed Internet service without the wires”. Peterson, City Council member Suzanne Jenkins, Cornerstone Chairman John Schmitt and Clearwire Jacksonville General Manager Darren Nichols then cut through the cables with several pair of large wire cutters.

The company’s wireless broadband Internet service is now available to over 120,000 homes in an area of over 100 square miles, covering Downtown, Southside, Mandarin and Fleming Island.

Clearwire plans to expand to Arlington and the Beaches in the fall, with sections of Orange Park, the Westside and Northside to follow. The service is sold at more than a dozen locations around town, including a Clearwire retail store at 9452 Philips Highway, across from Regal Cinema.

“Clearwire offers simplicity, affordability and flexibility,” said Peterson. “You can buy the service at select local retailers, take it home, set it up and be online in minutes. It’s plug-and-play as far as installation — no need for a technician to come into your home and no need to load software onto your computer to make it work.”

Nichols announced the company intends to provide its modems for free checkout at library branches. Nichols said Clearwire plans to add more modems as service expands throughout the area. “Besides checking out a book, people can also check out free Internet service at the library,” he said.

“The new Main Library and our entire library system are a tangible commitment to making Jacksonville a world-class city,” said City Council representative Suzanne Jenkins. “We’re pleased to have Clearwire make a commitment to our library system and to our community’s future. And the Jacksonville Public Library is where new technologies will be available to further the learning and enjoyment of all of our citizens. This is another reason we’re called ‘the First Coast’.”

“Jacksonville has the unique opportunity to be on the cutting edge of technology with the launch of Clearwire’s wireless broadband Internet service,” said Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. “As we move further into the information age, Internet access will become increasingly important.”

Clearwire’s launch also was noted by Governor Jeb Bush, who sent a letter lauding the company for selecting Jacksonville and touting the state’s leadership in the information technology industry.

“Today’s announcement is further evidence of the importance of this industry to positively impact the lives of Floridians,” wrote the governor. “I am proud that Florida continues to lead the world in cutting edge technology developments like those found in Clearwire and other IT companies in the state.”

The Kirkland, Wash.-based company drew national attention earlier this summer when it announced Jacksonville would be the first city in the U.S. to receive Clearwire’s service. The high-speed Internet service uses part of the radio spectrum to provide service through a unique wireless modem plugged into the user’s computer instead of connecting to traditional coaxial cable or telephone wires.

Clearwire’s choice of Jacksonville as its first city was announced in June by Craig McCaw, Clearwire’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, during a speech at a wireless industry trade conference. McCaw was one of the early pioneers in providing cellular phone service in the U.S. in the early 1980s. His company, McCaw Cellular, became Cellular One, then the nation’s leading provider in cellular services in more than 100 cities. It was acquired by AT&T in 1994 and then became AT&T Wireless. Since then, any move he’s made has been closely watched by technology analysts.

It is estimated that at least 70 percent of residences in the U.S. do not currently subscribe to the Internet through a broadband connection. Clearwire is the first company providing service on a large scale to meet that demand by using its own technology.

Tests of the radio receiver in Jacksonville show Clearwire provides service at up to 1.5 million bits per second (Mbps), which is comparable to DSL service and 25 times faster than typical dial-up connections.

Like many of the senior executives at Clearwire, Peterson has worked with McCaw on previous successful ventures. He said Jacksonville is the “perfect location” to launch the wireless high-speed Internet service. He likens Clearwire’s introduction to the launch of McCaw Cellular because it made what was seen as “exotic” technology affordable and available to the general public.

“Clearwire is ‘Next-Generation Broadband — broadband Internet service delivered to the consumer in a manner that is easier to get, setup and use than any other option currently offered,’ ” said Peterson. “We chose Jacksonville because it’s a city with a great economic climate and is a community that is ready and eager to embrace new technology. We’re excited to be launching this service in Jacksonville today and then rapidly expanding to other communities across the state and across the country.”

For more information, visit Clearwire at www.clearwire.com.