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Firm plans WiMAX deployment covering 6 million rural U.S. residents: Open Range Communications plans wireless Internet push with $367M in funding

Rural provider Open Range Communications can now fund its launch of WiMAX-based wireless broadband and voice, thanks to a new $100 million investment from One Equity Partners.
In March of 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Utilities Program approved a $267 million broadband access loan for Open Range, but required additional private financing. This extra support from One Equity Partners, an arm of JPMorgan & Chase Co., fulfills that prerequisite and allows Open Range to begin its task of getting WiMAX wireless Internet and voice to more than six million people in 546 rural communities within five years.
Open Range plans to lease mobile satellite spectrum from Globalstar Inc. for the deployment.
Open Range said it will install its network kit on existing towers in most areas, and that the service will be available for individual use as well as public safety and commercial applications, including municipal traffic control and automatic meter reading.
The company said its service will support minimum speeds of 1.5 Mbps downloads and 512 Kbps uploads. The firm’s “data” products will go for “less than $40” per month, and “voice” will go for “less than $30 per month,” according to its Web site.
Open Range’s news comes on the heels of a major WiMAX push by Clearwire Corp., which is investing more than $3 billion in its WiMAX rollout.
Clearwire recently launched its first “Clear”-branded WiMAX service in Portland. Clearwire chief Barry West said another launch is on the near horizon, but would not disclose which city.

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