In this crappy economy, not sure how they pulled it off, but good for them. Before, I start yapping about this, you need to know what Clearwire offers and what it is for us.
They provide fourth-generation wireless services called WiMax stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access – something cooler, faster, and more mobile than Wi-Fi. I don’t think Wi-Fi is even mobile. WiMax is supposed to be super fast, so that you can stream TV, watch movies, play online games and video chat on the go and at home. Here is a simple explanation of WiMax:
Clearwire is currently in 14 markets including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle. I don’t mean to offend people in those cities, but they are mostly second-tier markets. What’s disappointing about Sprint Nextel Clearwire thing is the absence of WiMax services in Washington, D.C. After all, I think all the Sprint Nextel WiMax thing started from Reston, VA. Hello!!!!
D.C was supposed to get service shortly after Sprint launched its first market, Baltimore, last October. Now the Washington offering appears to be off the table until 2010. Clearwire plans to launch the 4G service in D.C through their partnership with Sprint’s Xohm WiMax 4G service. I have already spotted a couple of their antennas up in small part of D.C, but not sure that they’re open for business yet.
What I am worried is their rival technology LTE (Long Term Evolution) supported by other major telecom companies like Verizon Wireless which is planning to begin LTE deployment before the end of the year. AT&T also plans to do the same. The big advantage of WiMax being the first mover, a lead of a year and a half over deployments of rival LTE technology.
I am personally believer in the power of the 3GPP roadmap from GSM to WCDMA, to HSPA, to LTE because of the ecosystem that it carries with it. Based on what I’ve learned about Existing Mobile operators over the last five years or so – there is a clear operational, capex, and marketing advantage for the incumbent mobile operators. At a technology level – there are some advantages for LTE over WiMax on uplink performance. The time it has taken Clearwire to acquire their current subscribers all these years, it will probably take At&T to sell that many iPhones in a few weeks. So, I think WiMax will be a nice niche technology for DSL extension and in some countries where better spectrum is made available. The 3.65 and 2.5GHz bands here in the US will make it impossible to compete with a mobile operator with LTE at 700MHz.
As for the cost, they plan to charge us from $30 to $45 per month. I will certainly stay on top of this and keep you all posted.