Clearwire Goes Live in Atlanta
Atlanta is the mobile broadband challenger's third and largest metropolitan market to date, covering nearly 3 million people and 1,200 square miles. Clearwire started selling the service online last month, but today marks the official launch. (See Clear in Atlanta and Clearwire Uses Moto WiMax.)
And a launch wouldn't be complete without the living room on wheels and a hot air balloon to show off the new service. [Ed. note: We always wanted a portable living room.] (See Clear Is in Atlanta.)
The carrier claims that its network will offer broadband speeds on a par with fixed-line services like DSL and faster than the cellular 3G services available today. According to Clearwire, customers can expect download speeds of between 4 Mbit/s and 6 Mbit/s, with bursts exceeding 15 Mbit/s.
Clearwire has two service tiers: one for home Internet use and one for mobile, which start at $20 per month and $40 per month, respectively. And a day pass is available for $10.
As for the devices, a USB modem from Motorola costs $59.99 or may be leased for $4.99 per month. Moto also supplies Clearwire's desktop modem, which costs $79.99 and can be leased for $4.99.
With an additional $15 voice adapter, consumers can also get voice services from Clearwire for $24.99 per month.
Other devices include the Clear Spot WiFi modem for $139 and various WiMax embedded laptops. Clearwire also says that a dualmode 3G/WiMax modem will be available this summer that will provide access to Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s 3G network. In addition, the Mondi WiMax handheld device from Samsung will be available soon, according to the carrier, but a date has not been specified.
The network was built with base stations and infrastructure from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), which is an official Clearwire supplier along with Samsung Corp. The Atlanta network comprises more than 400 cell sites, according to Motorola.
But these vendors may have competition as Clearwire expands into new markets, because the operator indicated recently that it is looking for additional infrastructure suppliers. Among those reportedly talking to Clearware is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (See Clearwire Considering WiMax Polygamy and Huawei's Clearwire Ride?)
Clearwire's WiMax service is already available in Baltimore and in Portland, Ore., and the carrier plans to launch in Las Vegas later this summer, although a soft launch is already underway there. (See Clearwire Goes Soft in Vegas.)
Other markets scheduled for service launches in 2009 include Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia, and Seattle. And in 2010, Clearwire plans to roll out services to New York, Boston, Washington, Houston, and the San Francisco Bay Area. (See WiMax's Bay Window.)
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung