Government // Mobile & Wireless
03:20 PM

Sprint, Clearwire Detail WiMax Rollout

Plans show WiMax is picking up steam, and Clearwire says it will cover more than 120 million customers by the end of 2010.

As competitors prep mobile broadband alternatives, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire have outlined their WiMax rollout plans for the rest of the year.

Clearwire, of which Sprint is a majority owner, said it plans to roll out service in North Carolina in the Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh markets. The WiMax service will also hit Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio in November, and the 4G network will be lit up in parts of Hawaii in early December.

The service will be sold under Clearwire's Clear brand. It may include consumer or professional home and mobile Internet services that have an average download speed of 3 to 6 Mbps. Sprint customers will be able to sign up for a hybrid service that can use WiMax markets where WiMax is available. Service reverts to EV-DO 3G in other areas.

Cable companies such as Comcast will be reselling Clearwire's WiMax under different brand labels, but these offerings will vary by market.

The rollout plans show WiMax is picking up some steam, as 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 Long-Term Evolution (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. Even Verizon Wireless' aggressive deployment plans don't call for a nationwide LTE network until at least 2013. 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.

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