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Sprint's 4G Now service launches in Atlanta, Portland, and Las Vegas; can Clearwire and friends make an impact before LTE arrives?

Sprint's Summer of WiMax

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
8/17/2009
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As expected, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) launched its 4G Now service -- running over the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) mobile WiMax network -- today in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Portland, Ore.

The operator is expected to track Clearwire's launches closely with its own 3G-to-4G roaming service throughout the remainder of 2009. Clearwire said last week that it will cover 25 markets and over 30 million users by the end of this year. (See Clearwire Promises Growth Spurt.)

Clearwire and Sprint, along with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) have their work cut out to make sure WiMax gets established as a viable wireless broadband service before Verizon Wireless comes along with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) in 2010. (See Sprint's '4G' Shadow Network.)

Verizon made it clear Friday that it is on the path to launch its first LTE markets -- Boston and Seattle -- sooner rather than later in 2010. The operator said late Friday that it has completed live "data calls" at the two sites. (See Verizon Makes LTE Connection in Boston & Seattle .)

This means Seattle will very likely be the first city in the world where LTE and mobile WiMax services go head-to-head, sometime next year. Verizon is initially using Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) terminals to connect users to the new network. The operator isn't giving any real details on the technology's test speeds yet.

If you need a referesher on the markets Clearwire will deploy in this year, here's a handy-dandy table:

Table 1: Clear Network Markets Planned for 2009

Market Clearwire Sprint Comcast TWC Clear Launch Date
Abilene, TX X X 01-Sep
Amarillo, TX X X 01-Sep
Atlanta, GA X X X Live
Austin, TX X X Q3/Q4
Baltimore, MD X X Live
Bellingham, WA X X 01-Sep
Boise, ID X X 01-Sep
Charlotte, NC X X X 01-Sep
Chicago, IL X X X Q3 soft launch
Corpus Christi, TX X X 01-Sep
Dallas Fort Worth, TX X X X Q3
Greensborough, NC X X 01-Sep
Honolulu, HI X X Q3/Q4
Killeen/Temple, TX X X 01-Sep
Las Vegas, NV X X Live
Maui, HI X X Q3/Q4
Milledgeville, GA X X 01-Sep
Philadelphia, PA X X X Q4
Portland, OR X X X Live
Raleigh, NC X X Q3/Q4
Salem, OR X X Q3/Q4
San Antonio, TX X X 01-Sep
Seattle, WA X X Q3/Q4
Waco, TX X X 01-Sep
Wichita Falls, TX X X O1-Sep
Sources: Clearwire, Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Unstrung, Sidecut Reports


At present, Clearwire says that mobile WiMax offers downlink speeds of 3 to 6 Mbit/s with "bursts up to 10 Mbit/s." Uplink is up to 1 Mbit/s.

– Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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