Bluewire LLC, a Chandler-based information technology company, has started offering wireless broadband service to residents and businesses in Queen Creek and other parts of southeast Maricopa County where high-speed Internet options are limited. The company has set up an antenna on a cell tower near Greenfield and Pecos roads.
The company has set up an antenna on a cell tower near Greenfield and Pecos roads, which provides wireless Internet access to customers who set up antennas in the line of sight of the Bluewire antenna within a radius of about 10 miles.
The company, which began the service in late October, signed up 25 subscribers in the first three weeks, president Ralph Cruz said.
"Every day we are taking two or three calls (inquiring about service)," he said. "We have the capacity to support thousands of customers."
Bluewire offers its wireless service for $49.99 per month for residences and $99.99 a month for businesses. A rooftop antenna costs $100 to lease for a three-year contract.
The service is designed for customers who don’t have ready access to high speed Internet service through cable and telephone digital subscriber lines. Many areas of Queen Creek do not have wired systems because of their relatively sparse population density.
The point-to-point wireless technology used by Bluewire differs from wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, mesh systems, in that it requires the computer to be in a fixed location attached to the receiving antenna. It works for business and residential subscribers who want broadband Internet access in their home of office, but it doesn’t work for users of laptop computers who want to be able to link to the Internet anywhere.
Still, for many computer users, point-to-point wireless serves their purposes, Cruz said.
Bluewire also offers pointto-point East Valley coverage from an antenna atop the Bank of America building at Alma School Road and Southern Avenue in Mesa. It serves customers in a more heavily urbanized area, which nevertheless is not entirely covered by wired systems, Cruz said.
Eventually the company could set up an antenna further out to provide wireless broadband in newly developing areas of Pinal County along the Hunt Highway, he said.
Each of the broadband technologies has its advantages and disadvantages. Some cities such as Tempe are setting up citywide Wi-Fi networks so that wireless Internet service is available anywhere within the city limits if the computer user has a wireless-enabled laptop. But Cruz doubts that such citywide "hot spots" are really necessary.
"People are not walking around everywhere with their laptops," he said. "I can understand a wireless hot spot at a coffee shop or a library sitting area, but for a citywide release, I don’t see the benefits."
Nevertheless, town officials in Queen Creek want a community-wide Wi-Fi network because it would offer complete mobility, said David Evertsen, telecom consultant for the town.
Mobile Internet service is available in Queen Creek from Verizon Wireless and Sprint as part of their cell phone systems, but the upload and download speeds are not as great as other technologies, Evertsen said.
"It’s another piece of the puzzle, but not a solve all," he said.