Business

Company offers area's first broadcast Internet

Have you ever wanted to spend a few hours relaxing in the park but still have Internet access? Now there's a way for residents of North Bend to take their computers and Internet access wherever they go, be it the park, the grocery store, the car, or even the backyard.

Velocity Wireless, a cell phone provider in North Bend, has teamed up with Clearwire Communications to provide North Bend residents with wireless high-speed Internet.

"You can take it anywhere you want to go [within your coverage area]," said Shawn Thornton, owner of Velocity Wireless.

The new setup requires only a computer, power source and modem. There's no need to download anything, and the computer doesn't need additional programs. The service works with both Macs and PCs. The modem, a portable black box, plugs into the power source and the cache on any computer to provide a high-speed broadband Internet connection. The modem works like a cell phone, bouncing the signal off cell phone towers in the coverage area.

It's pretty inexpensive, too. Right now, there's an introductory rate of $19.99 for the first three months, according to a representative from Clearwire Communications. Then it's $29.99 per month for the service, with a 512 K downloading speed. There is an additional charge of $4.99 per month to lease the modem.

"That way, if they come out with a better modem, we just switch it," Thornton said.

Those who want a faster connection can sign up for the 1.5 MB downloading speed for $36.99 a month. There are also business rates available.

There's no credit check, either, Thornton said. The company will just make sure you're not two months late on your bills. Customers do need to sign up for a one or two-year plan.

So far, the only towers are in North Bend, Carnation and Duvall, so Snoqualmie, River Bend, Snoqualmie Falls and Fall City residents are out of luck. Thornton said he believes there are plans to expand services to the Snoqualmie area. Other towers are located in Issaquah, Seattle and Bellevue, as well as around the country.

"It's national," said Thornton. "So you could take it with you on a trip." And it's a secure connection. "You don't have to worry about people getting in and stealing."

Those interested can visit www.clearwire.com to find out if they're in the coverage area, visit the store at 131 E. North Bend Way or call (425) 888-8255.

"I'm really excited about it," Thornton said. "You don't have to go to a hotel and pay $10 a day for the Internet."

Though Clearwire Communications offers the only high-speed, wireless (portable with a power source) Internet connection in the area, there is competition to provide highspeed Internet service: Comcast and CenturyTel.

"When it comes down to competition, we encourage it," said Jacquie Goodwill, public relations manager for CenturyTel. "We believe that when competition enters the marketplace, it allows us to really demonstrate our customer service."

The company offers $19.95 for the first three months, which is pretty common in the industry. Competitors all hover around the same price, she said. CenturyTel offers a 256K connection speed for $24.95 per month and 1.5MB for $39.95 per month in Snoqualmie and North Bend.

They offer bundle services that include the home phone, unlimited long distance, broadband and TV for $39.99 per month; if high-speed Internet is included, the price becomes $69.99 per month. For a bundle with all calling features (caller ID, call waiting, voice mail, etc.) at 5 cents per minute, the price is $37.95; if a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is included, the price becomes $67.95 per month. However, prices may vary by location.

Comcast offers a 6 MB download for $42.95 a month. If customers sign up for the bundle service, which includes high-speed Internet, TV cable and phone, it's three for $33 each per month for 12 months.

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