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Clearwire takes WiMax for a spin in the streets of San Fran

CTIA: Steady Rollin' Clearwire

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
9/11/2008
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SAN FRANCISCO -- CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment -- Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) was out and about on the streets of San Francisco to demonstrate the capabilities of its mobile WiMax networks on Wednesday.

The Kirkland, Wash.-based operator was out to show that WiMax is now ready to handle multimedia streaming and other applications even while on the move, albeit quite slowly in the crowded Bay Area streets. "The intent of what we're trying to demonstrate here is mobile multi-megabit applications," said Clearwire's VP of network deployment, John Storch.

The operator has installed four three-sector WiMax cell sites around the Moscone West convention center for the 15-minute driving demo. One is in the center itself, one at a nearby Marriott, one on a privately owned building, and one "in the parking lot of a local Cash & Carry."

Storch says that Clearwire has been getting average download speeds of 4 Mbit/s and uplinks of 2 Mbit/s on the network. "We've seen up to 10 megs down," says Storch of Clearwire's budding mobile WiMax deployments.

The firm demonstrated photo uploads, streaming radio, streaming video over YouTube Inc. , and news bulletins on the two-TV system in the SUV. Storch used both the TV touchscreen and a wireless keyboard to control and access data. Check out this slideshow here:

Storch Steps Up

Storch also accessed a remote Slingbox to grab music, TV, and video content on demand. "The other half of the Slingbox is in my living room in Seattle," he explained. (See Sling Media Updates Mobile.)

Your correspondent has seen many of these WiMax mobile applications shown off before, in January 2008 at CES, for example. (See CES: Moto's Wild WiMax Ride.) This time, however, they were noticeably smoother with the only hangups being a couple of small hangups in the live TV feed. The satellite TV feed on the flight from NYC was by far worse in comparison.

Perhaps the most interesting application, however, is some of the integration work that Clearwire has done with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Maps. The carrier showed off an application that allows the user to search for local attractions, such as restaurants, and then click-through to make a hands-free call to the establishment.

During the drive, Storch alighted on the "interesting-sounding" Brain Wash Cafe and Laundromat and called them to say that they would be there. Unstrung cannot confirm if Clearwire actually ever visited the restaurant-cum-washerteria but the call quality was clear enough.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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