Hanna, Alberta, has 2,996 people, 16 restaurants, 10 churches, seven motels, and six WiMAX towers.

This rural farming town about two hours northeast of Calgary, adrift on Canada’s ocean of ‘short grass country,’ is on the cutting edge of fixed broadband wireless deployment in North America.

At last month’s WiMAX World conference in Boston, multimillion-dollar chip vendors, equipment builders, carriers and network providers will be promising to do what a tiny start-up, Netago Wireless , has already begun in Hanna: deploying Nortel base stations and customer premises gear (called subscriber stations) with radios based on the IEEE 802.16d fixed WiMAX standard.

Netago’s plan and early experience suggests the future development of fixed WiMAX in much of North America: affordable, multi-gigabit data services in areas where alternative technologies such as fibre-optic networks and 3G wire