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A government is rolling out a wireless network, starting with 18 cities, using WiMAX technology that supports mobile networking, for $30 a month.

The real news is where it is: Libya.

WiMAX, based on similar technology to cell phone networks, offers wider coverage than is possible using wifi. Like wifi, computers connect to it using an internal card or USB dongle. Depending on topography, laptops can connect to the network within 30 miles of any WiMax tower.

WiMAX is popular in rural and developing areas because of its wider coverage and because it doesn't need an expensive wired infrastructure. According to the BBC, it is also used in other African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, but their coverage is more fixed and limited.

The new network, provided by Libya Telecom and Technology, will reportedly be able to support 300,000 subscribers, with business clients taking priority next week, and individual customers following the week after. It will be available in Tripoli, Benghazi, Sabha, Sirte, Misurata, Khomus, Ijdabia, Al Baidha, Gharyan, Benwaleed, Zuwara, Tarhun, Al Brega, Obari, Zleitin, Zawia, Raslanuf, and Ghadames.

The network infrastructure was supplied by Alcatel-Lucent in a US$60 million contract, awarded last April. The project was announced at that time by Mohammed Gaddafi, head of Libya's state-owned General Telecommunications Company and eldest son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

$30 is twice the cost of standard broadband in Libya, and requires an advanced payment of $400, which may put it out of the reach of many Libyans.

Still, in comparison to the U.S. -- where WiMax is used in some rural areas such as the Intermountain West, and is being tested by Sprint in Baltimore, Libya's achievement is impressive.

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