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Clearwire Outlines WiMax Rollout Plans

The firm wants to cover 120 million people by the end of 2010, but it's facing increased competition from companies rolling out networks based on Long Term Evolution.

Clearwire laid out its WiMax deployment plans, and the mobile data company is expected to have 4G services in another 10 markets by the beginning of September.

The company, in which Sprint Nextel is a 51% shareholder, already has WiMax networks operating in four markets, and it will soon light up Boise, Idaho; Bellingham, Wash.; and eight markets in Texas. Clearwire said it plans to bring its WiMax services to Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and other markets by the end of the year, and it will cover 120 million people by the end of 2010.

The company offers mobile broadband services that can provide up to 6 Mbps on the go for laptops, smartphones, and other mobile computing devices like the Samsung Mondi, and the fixed version has the potential to give users up to 40 Mbps. Clearwire builds the WiMax networks and offers services, but it also resells it to companies like Comcast and Sprint which can bundle the 4G with other services.

The next generation of mobile broadband technology is facing a looming format war, as major wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless are backing networks based on Long Term Evolution technology. LTE networks have a theoretical limit of nearly 100 Mbps, but even if it only reaches half of that, it will blow current 3G networks out of the water.

WiMax does have the backing of companies like Sprint, Google, Intel, and major cable companies, and it's time-to-market advantage could help it gain traction. But that time advantage may not be as great as Clearwire once thought, as Verizon is planning an aggressive rollout of LTE networks, and it plans to have 25 to 30 markets covered by the end of 2010.

LTE Vs. WiMax won't be the typical winner-take-all showdown. Learn what each brings to the race (registration required).

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