Clearwire Goes Soft in Vegas

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is now selling WiMax services in Las Vegas ahead of an official launch this summer.

The Kirkland, Wash.-based mobile broadband operator this afternoon confirmed reports that it is selling services in the Glitter Gulch. The soft launch echoes its approach to bringing "Clear" to Atlanta, and Portland, Ore., earlier this year.

"In advance of our full commercial launch of Las Vegas scheduled for this summer, we are now selling Clear service as part of our operational readiness activities," Clearwire spokeswoman Jennifer Morgan says. "Store openings, advertising, and other market activities will be a part of our full commercial launch, but residents of Las Vegas can now go to Clear.com and order services."

Las Vegas is the third major market that Clearwire has launched under its own steam. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s XOHM-branded Baltimore market is expected to come under Clear's wing sometime this year.

In total, Clearwire is expected to launch nine commercial mobile WiMax markets under the Clear brand in 2009. Five of these will be new markets, and will likely include Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Further activity will include converting major Clearwire fixed-wireless markets in Seattle, Honolulu, and Charlotte, N.C., to mobile WiMax.

What isn't yet clear is what vendors Clearwire is using for its Las Vegas deployment. There have been some rumors that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is in trials on the Sin City sites, but Clearwire isn't commenting on vendor picks yet.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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