Service provider, Urban Wimax, is offering free service on what it describes as "the UK's first true WiMax services".
To no great surprise, in this case, "free service" means the service is another WiMax trial, but one that may be more advanced than others including Libera in London, Telabria in Kent, Pipex in Stratford and Brighton's Metranet. The difference, says Urban WiMax, is that it is promising a smooth change from a free service starting in April to a paid for service in July, and is based on 802.16d standard kit, not pre-WiMax.
"When we begin to charge, it will cost 50 - 70 percent of BT's SDSL prices at wholesale levels," said Colin Flynn, sales director. Currently, this suggests users could be paying from around £50 a month for 1 Mbit/s symmetrical service, with higher prices for rates up to 10Mbit/s. A price chart suggests that the prices might be £100 and £200 a month respectively for 2 Mbit/s and 4 Mbit/s services, but Flynn says any price could be reduced to keep its promise of undercutting the competition.
For now, though, the company is using a free offer to build up customers mainly with a view to getting testimonials. The website puts the value of £1353 on free install and hardware and three months' subscription - and there's no obligation to continue at the end of the trial.
The service is installed by Urban WiMax, using an "unobtrusive" antenna on the roof, but the company could have a self-install product later, said Flynn. "We're trying to offer a fairly standardised business, with service level agreements". Inside the building, the service would be distributed by Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
Urban WiMax expects to offer a two year contract, with no installation, fee, "but we are conscious that these things can change," says Flynn. The eventual prices will "depend on the prevailing competition." Flynn would not reveal the equipment involved: "It's subject to change in any case - that's one of the joys of having an interoperable standard."
Urban WiMax' site includes an advanced post-code checker, which takes into account hills, trees and contour lines, in order to include line-of-sight connection. Techworld Mobility's office on Brixton Hill passed the test (we can see the London Eye from our roof), and we hope to be lucky in our application for service.