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Wireless start-up gets $50 million infusion

A European-based investment firm is making a $50 million gamble on fixed wireless provider World Wide Wireless Communications.

A European-based investment firm is making a $50 million gamble on fixed wireless provider World Wide Wireless Communications.

Fixed-wireless systems are mounted on rooftops, using a large dish antenna. The technology uses wireless spectrum frequencies that are different from mobile wireless systems and provides local phone service and high-speed Internet access primarily for business customers.

The cash infusion comes as venture capital has slowed from its torrent to a mere trickle as the same investment houses that poured millions into start-ups have abandoned them.

"It took a lot of hard work to get this money," said Douglas P. Haffer, chief executive of the start-up. "It's the type of funding that companies like ours are able to find these days. It's not huge; it's an equity line that allows us to go forward and look for larger investments down the road."

Haffer said the start-up, which launched in December, will use the cash to finish launching services in Argentina and for a later expansion in Bangkok. The company is also in the final stages of negotiating an agreement to provide services in India, having met with the Indian government's wireless adviser. But progress has been sidelined because of the devastating earthquake that struck the country, Haffer said.

World Wide Wireless makes its cash licensing MMDS (Multi-channel Multipoint Distribution System) frequencies to service providers, which can be used to help overcome the difficulties of delivering service to rural areas. Most of its business is overseas as an alternative to DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable, which in some areas isn't available.