The WiMax State of Play in the USA
Not quite. The partnership of Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) could be the main driver for the technology in the U.S., but the companies haven't delivered commercial WiMax networks yet. That doesn't mean that other operators aren't planning -- and in a few cases, actually going live with -- WiMax in America.
Just this week, Pipeline Wireless LLC announced it will launch a WiMax network in downtown Boston in the next few months. The company, which hs a nationwide license for 3.5 GHz services, is using base stations from Redline Communications Inc. to deploy the network.
Meanwhile, Nth Air Inc. is pushing fixed WiMax at businesses in the San Jose metro area and attendees of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. (See Nth Air Adds Two.) Nth Air is using 3.65 GHz WiMAX network kit from Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY) for its deployments. The operator also has a nationwide license but says that it will target "underserved markets" with its networks.
NextPhase Wireless Inc. approached the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this month to register a licensed WiMax base station in Anaheim, Calif. It plans to cover Orange County with WiMax and has similar ambitions for Philadelphia and New Jersey. (See NextPhase Plots NJ WiMax.)
The Southern California operator also has a nationwide license to deploy 802.16e WiMax services in the 3.65 GHz band. It is using base stations from Aperto Networks Inc. for the task. (See NextPhase Gets WiMax License.)
Some operators have gotten past the planning stage and actually have WiMax networks up and running. Towerstream Corp. (Nasdaq: TWER) has offered fixed WiMax for business users in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and other major markets in the U.S. for more than a year now. (See TowerStream: First With 802.16e in the US?)
Meanwhile, DigitalBridge Communications Corp. earned the distinction of being the first operator to deploy true mobile WiMax in Jackson Hole, Wyo. this June. (See Mobile WiMax Goes on the Piste.) The operator has already deployed a number of fixed WiMax networks in smaller towns around the country.
Sprint and Clearwire, the perceived prime movers in the mobile WiMax game, still haven't gone commercial, although Clearwire does have a sizable fixed wireless network using so-called "pre-WiMax" gear.
Sprint says its first mobile WiMax network will go live in Baltimore in September. The operator is promising monthly prices of $50 or less and options such as a day pass for sometime users. (See Sprint's WiMax Laundry List.)
For Clearwire, a lot hinges on the Sprint deal -- and the associated $3.2 billion funding -- getting done. The company maintains that the WiMax asset merger should close in the fourth quarter of this year, which is also when it expects to deploy its first mobile WiMax network in Portland, Ore.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung