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New 4g Broadband in GR; Low-income Program to Come

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WiMax broadband service now available in Grand Rapids. Low-income program will provide reduced fee service to qualified applicants beginning in October.

Clearwire launches 4g service in GR

Clearwire launches 4g service in GR /Chad Becker

City Manager, Greg Sundstrom as WiMax service announced

City Manager, Greg Sundstrom as WiMax service announced

Videographer Chad Becker provides this report from today's City of Grand Rapids press conference announcing the arrival of a new broadband service option for local residents. The 4g WiMax network is being launched by the company Clearwire. Commissioners, city staff, media, project partners and members of the public were present at today's 10am event.

In an agreement between Clearwire and the City, low income residents of Grand Rapids will have the opportunity, beginning in October, to apply for broadband service for under $10 per month. Up to 5% of the households may be served by this reduced fee service designed to address the "digital divide". The Community Media Center will be facilitating the application process for residents.

The new "Clear" WiMax service provides home, business and mobile Internet access. Clearwire representatives were on hand to answer questions about the service, one of several launched today along with new service in parts of Delaware, Florida and California. In Grand Rapids, service the coverage area extends north to 7mile Road, south to Route 6, east to I-96, and west to Route 11.

Over four years in development, the project is a public / private partnership which also provides "cost neutral" mobile high-speed wireless services for use by City departments.  "The City of Grand Rapids is proud to be at the forefront in Michigan providing leading edge technology to our city, residents and businesses," said Mayor George Heartwell. "Our partnership with Clearwire will enable us to utilize mobile broadband technology in a variety of applications - from public safety to emergency response and building inspections."

Additionally, Clearwire will provide a number of wi-fi "hotspots" around town to serve residents and visitors.




Disclosure: Both Chad Becker and Laurie Cirivello work at the Community Media Center, the nonprofit organization that will be administrating the WiMax reduced fee broadband service program for low income residents. The Community Media Center is not affiliated with Clearwire.

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I love this idea.  My only concern is that those in low-income households may not have the tools to take advantage of this opportunity (computers, cell phones with media capacity, etc.)