Mobile WiMax is still in its deployment infancy, but two providers are already competing in three Texas towns in what could be a preview of wireless provider wars when different carriers deliver a multitude of wireless network services.
When Clearwire announced plans for future mobile WiMax deployments this week, three Texas towns -- Abeline, Lubbock, and Wichita Falls -- were included in the eight Texas communities slated to receive the high speed wide area service by the beginning of September.
The rollout will put Clearwire, which is 51% owned by Sprint Nextel, in competition with Xanadoo, which has been offering mobile WiMax in the Texas towns for more than two years. Xanadoo is believed to be the first company to have offered the WiMax service in the US. In addition to some communities in Texas, Xanadoo also offers WiMax in a few communities in Oklahoma and Illinois. Xanadoo executives did not return phone calls seeking comment.
"We are not working with Xanadoo," said a Clearwire spokesman. "We offer service to more cities than they do in Texas but in the three markets where we overlap, we would be competing."
The situation is the first example in the U.S. of wide area wireless high speed technologies competing with each other and is likely a harbinger of the wireless future.
The key parts of Xanadoo's infrastructure were provided by Navini Networks, a Texas company that was acquired by Cisco in late 2007. Cisco also works with Clearwire, which already has WiMax service in the major urban areas of Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Portland, Oregon. The deployment of Clearwire's mobile WiMax has been accelerating and additional large 2009 deployments are scheduled for Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia and Seattle. Boise, Idaho, Bellingham, Wash., and additional Texas towns are also scheduled to receive WiMax this year.
WiMax has a head start over LTE, another high speed wireless technology that is expected to rollout in earnest in 2010, creating a situation where consumers will increasingly have a choice of the high speed wireless technologies.
In addition to its current portfolio of spectrum, Xanadoo has spectrum property in several major markets.
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