Clearwire Coverage Tops 50 Million People

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) says it now covers 51 million people in 44 cities in the US, following the launch of its mobile WiMax service in seven new cities today.

The Kirkland, Wash.-based operator has started its "Clear" service in Eugene, Ore.; Merced and Visalia, Calif.; Yakima and Tri-Cities, Wash.; and Rochester and Syracuse in upstate New York. Earlier this week, the company launched the service in St. Louis, Salt Lake City, and Richmond, Va. (See Clear 4G Launches in 7 Markets.)

And now the operator, which ended the first quarter of this year with 971,000 customers, is tuning up WiMax sites in New York City ahead of its planned commercial launch "later this year." (See Clearwire Reports Q1 and Clearwire Promises WiMax Smartphones .)

LR Mobile has heard from a couple of Clearwire users that they can already "see" Clearwire's network signals in Manhattan, but that they can't get onto the network.

"You will be able to see our 4G signal in cities, including NYC, as we activate sites and test/tune the network," a company spokesman said in an email reply to questions. "However, I don't have an ETA for our network in NYC beyond what we've previously said about launching there later this year."

The Clear service offers average data downloads of 3 to 6 Mbit/s, with peaks of 10 Mbit/s, over its mobile WiMax network. You can see a coverage map for the Clear service here.

Clearwire currently offers modems, data cards, and WiFi devices that suppport WiMax. It expects to follow partner Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) into the dualmode 3G and WiMax smartphone game by the end of the year, with models from High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) and Samsung Corp. (See Clearwire Promises WiMax Smartphones , Samsung Gets Epic With WiMax Smarty for Sprint, and Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds.)

The operator could back those smartphone launches with WiMax services in more major cities in the US. This summer, Clearwire plans to launch in: Tampa, Orlando, and Daytona, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; Modesto and Stockton, Calif.; Wilmington, Del.; and Grand Rapids, Mich. By the end of 2010, the Clear service should be available in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

The operator hopes to be in more than 60 markets and cover around 120 million potential customers by the end of 2010. Major broadband rival Verizon Wireless plans to have Long Term Evolution (LTE) in 25 to 30 markets covering 100 million people by the end of this year.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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