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Monet Adds Wireless-Broadband Distribution

10/22/2003 02:18:00 PM Eastern

Kirkland, Wash. - Monet Mobile Networks, which last year launched America's first CDMA 1x EV-DO network in seven upper Midwest markets, has expanded distribution through the addition of more Best Buy outlets.

The 1.9GHz carrier, which positions itself as a wireless broadband service provider, targets users of home PCs and mobile computing devices who want high-speed wireless Internet access. Data speeds range from 300Kbps-700Kbps even at highway speeds, with a theoretical data rate of 2.4Mbps.

Late last year, Monet set up trials in two Best Buy stores and launched sales through its own Web site and through other dealers, including Wireless Retail's kiosks in Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stores. The company also set up demo kiosks in Blockbuster stores, where consumers can sign up online for service. Monet also sells through wireless agents, car stereo dealers and satellite-TV distributors.

All together, Monet has 50 dealers with between 75 to 90 storefronts, including five Best Buy stores in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.; Duluth, Minn.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Eau Claire, Wis. Best Buy is also selling the service online at www.BestBuy.com, said marketing VP Steve Visintainer.

With annual commitment, Monet service costs $19.95/month for the first two months and $39.95 thereafter, with no activation fee. With annual plan, a PC Card modem costs $89.95, and a PC Card adapter for desktop PCs costs $19.95.

In a promotion lasting until Nov. 15, Best Buy is offering the PC Card modem at $29.95 after a $40.00 mail-in rebate, and customers buying the product will receive a $50 Best Buy Gift Card.

Since Monet's launch, the company 'is on track to meet its expectations,' Visintainer said. The privately held company isn't disclosing subscriber counts, however.

As a replacement for landline broadband service, Monet is meeting untapped broadband demand in its markets, where cable modem and DSL service aren't fully deployed, Visintainer said. The company has also made inroads in the college-student market, where students want broadband access when they take their laptops from their dorm to a study hall, he added.

'We are fairly competitive in pricing to cable and DSL,' he added. Throughputs are also competitive, he said.

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