Google, others take 14.5-billion-dollar bet on wireless broadband

San Francisco

(ANTARA News) – Google has teamed up with a pack of US cable and mobile phone companies in an alliance to invest 14.5 billion dollars in a WiMax network for wireless broadband internet across the country, the companies announced Wednesday.

The new venture builds on a collaboration between Sprint Nextel Corp and Clearwire and includes investments by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel Corp, Google and Bright House Networks to build a high-speed wireless Internet network that would reach as many as 140 million people across the US by 2010.

The new company, which will take the name of Clearwire, will deploy a nationwide WiMax network that will “dramatically enhance the speed and manner in which customers access all that the Internet has to offer at home, in the office and on the road,” a joint statement was quoted by DPA as saying.

WiMax technology is seen as a way to leapfrog the plans of incumbent cell phone companies to roll out 3G networks. Unlike Wi-Fi which is limited to relatively small areas, WiMax can cover entire cities at speeds five times faster than current high speed wireless networks.

Sprint will own about 51 per cent of the new company, while shareholders of Clearwire, founded by wireless pioneer Craig McCaw, will own about 27 per cent. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and cable operator Bright House will get a combined 22 per cent, and are expected to invest 3.2 billion dollars to help finance the venture.

“The new Clearwire service area will cover as much as 120 million to 140 million people in the US by the end of 2010 with the opportunity ultimately to reach more than 200 million people beyond 2010,” said Clearwire chief executive Benjamin Wolff, who will head the new venture.

Under the pact, the cable companies will rent space on the network and offer wireless Internet services under their own brands. Google hopes that the will jump start the mobile internet and give a push to its Android operating system for mobile phones.

Google will also be the search provider for WiMax services. Intel is the major backer of WiMax chips which it already builds in to its Centrino 2 processor for laptops and mobile Internet devices. (*)

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