Sprint, Clearwire adding WiMax to 7 markets


Clearwire Communications and Sprint announced plans to launch their respective 4G mobile Internet services in additional cities in Q4. Each of the companies will offer 4G under their own 4G brand. Clearwire and Sprint will each launch 4G service in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas in November. Service will be available from both companies in Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii in early December.

Consumers and businesses should expect to see additional network expansions throughout these cities, and a wide-range of independent marketing and advertising initiatives.

Clearwire and Sprint 4G customers can expect to see wireless service significantly faster than today’s 3G. The competition for wireless broadband rollout globally is getting hot: Long Term Evolution (LTE) is another technology that will be part of a commercial network scheduled to go live in 2010, bringing data rates far above what is possible in today’s mobile broadband networks.

LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communications in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video well, and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite.

Meanwhile, cable companies such as Comcast will be reselling Clearwire’s WiMax under different brand labels, but these offerings will vary by market, says InformationWeek. Clearwire said it will cover more than 120 million customers by the end of 2010. But there is some concern that the next generation of mobile broadband could be facing a standards war because most of the major mobile operators around the world plan to build 4G networks using LTE technology.

LTE networks boast higher download speeds; the theoretical limit is about 100 times faster than current 3G networks. But WiMax has a clear time-to-market advantage, as LTE standards are not fully finalized, said InformationWeek. Even Verizon Wireless’ aggressive deployment plans don’t call for a nationwide LTE network until at least 2013, said the story. Clearwire’s CEO has said the company not concerned with a brewing format war because its network infrastructure can switch between WiMax and LTE with a software update.