Amsterdam WiMAX provider increases download speed to 5 Mbps

WorldMax, the WiMAX operator in Amsterdam, says that subscribers to its Aerea service can now enjoy download speeds of up to 5 Mbps if they sign up for the most expensive plan (Aerea 5.0 which sells for 24.95 EUR per month for a 1-year plan or 29.95 per month on a monthly plan). Unfortunately you get only 256 Kbps upstream. The speeds vary depending upon the distance of the user from the base station and the obstacles in between (this is wireless service after all).

Mobile or nomadic WiMAX service is rare

Aerea is one of the very few nomadic (mobile) WiMAX networks operating in the world today. When I say “operating”, I mean they actually sell the service.

Click on my map of WiMAX service and you’ll see only a few green (live commercial service) points. It took me more than half a day to create this map because checking up on the veracity of claims made by WiMAX operators concerning the commercial availability of WiMAX in their region is a time-consuming task.

Despite the hype about WiMAX and how it is going to replace Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, 5G, I’ve managed to find very few operators that sell anything at all, including pay-as-you-go plans, where all you need to connect is a dongle. With Aerea, you can purchase service for 6 EUR per day and top it off.

When I began creating the WiMAX map, I had to go to other websites to find out where WiMAX is up and running. I’ve found the databases and listings of WiMAX networks on other websites completely unreliable. The listings claim there’s WiMAX service in a particular region or city, but when I investigated further, there’s only a pilot, not commercially available service. Some WiMAX operators even claim to have “mobile” or nomadic service (by stating that their network is based on 802.16e) but again, I dug  deeper and discovered that you need a huge modem sitting on your desk to get access.

You need a butler dragging behind you carrying your modem around to experience the full delights of mobile WiMAX.

But back to Aerea. Below are the various subscription plans: annual, 6-month, month-to-month and prepaid (pay as you go), and the price of the WiMAX USB dongle. Very flexible, designed for the mobile user (no butler needed), and no long term, 2-year, penalty-infused contracts.

The downside is that the USB dongle sold by Aerea is expensive: 79 EUR. And I am not sure if it works with other WiMAX networks in another country where they operate on a different frequency. So traveling with this expensive, 79 EUR USB dongle-modem isn’t exactly appealing.

Live test by the Game Kings guys

Check out the second half of this video review of WiMAX in Amsterdam (in Dutch) by the Game Kings guys, testing the dongle and Aerea’s service: they cannot get the signal indoors! They went outside the building and suddenly it works well. They find it too expensive: 89 EUR for the dongle, 25 EUR per month. The guys already have cable or DSL at home so they’re willing to pay at most 10 EUR per month for WiMAX. The guys are confused: they don’t understand why they need the dongle and why they can’t get access to Wi-Fi networks via the dongle. They’re confusing Wi-Fi with WiMAX.

Annual subscription plan

Six-month subscription plan

Monthly plan

Pay as you go

Price of USB dongle

– – – – – – – –

*Join the MuniWireless / Muni WiMAX Linked In Group for networking and discussions. Over 200 members as of 19 December 2008.

*Sign up for the MuniWireless / WiMAX newsletter. I will be sending it out again starting January 2009.

Comments

  1. It’s surpising that this “pilot” for mobile wimax actually evolved into a commercial network when the licence they have is only for fixed usage and not nomadic. (3.5 GHz – 3.58 GHz F 1 Vaste verbindingen, FWA. Vergunningverlening via veiling of vergelijkende toets. )http://www.agentschaptelecom.nl/nfr/main_nfr.html
    How can they sell something that is illegal according to EZ? Is there something like a “gedoogbeleid” for mobile wimax on any frequency?

  2. Hans,

    I guess it depends on the definition of “mobile” WiMAX. I will post this question to my Linked In Group.

    UPDATE — response from a Linked In contact:

    There is a distinct difference between “mobile” and “fixed”. Many countries have earmarked 3.5 for fixed services. “Nomadic” services should be defined by the regulator in the Netherlands. However, in many countries the license holder can apply to have their license converted from “fixed” to “mobile” if they return a portion of their spectrum. There should be details within the posted regulations in Amsterdam and there should be a contact that you can inquire with there directly.