- Chicago's commuters will be Clear's big test
There was a lot of laughter, fun, and games at the Clearwire Las Vegas launch event this week -- what else do you expect from a town where the mayor shows up at the press conference with his own private martini caddy who pours him a dry one before, during, and after the event? And while the Clearwire folks did a stand-up job, providing lots of hands-on info while bathing a local faux-downtown mall in their lime-green brand, the big test for the WiMax provider comes later this year, whenever Chicago finally gets the green light.
In Vegas, a town hit hard by the recession, Clearwire's new "more for less" marketing message makes sense -- especially for Sin City's large young and mobile demographic. Why sign up for cable or DSL when you can buy a mobile broadband stick that will support you no matter whose couch you crash on? Chicago, however, presents a much different puzzle -- with tens of thousands of regular folks riding trains on long daily commutes, potential customers will test Clearwire's promised on-the-go connectivity in a much harder fashion than any of the currently deployed markets. Maybe that's why Clearwire is taking its time on launching Chicago: They perhaps know that it will take more than some balloons and a couple showgirls to move the needle in the Windy City.
- New Clearwire launch betting line says Dallas is next
More unscientific guessing on our part, but judging from some of the comments we overheard at the Clearwire Las Vegas launch, I now agree with Dan's earlier guess [Ed note: Guess? We prefer the term wild and crazy hunch here] that Dallas/Fort Worth will be the next "big" market to get a live network.
Though we are still reasonably sure there will be some kind of service available in Chicago for the Sept. 15-18 4G World show -- as a major sponsor Clearwire would have some big egg on its face if it wasn't live for the year's biggest WiMax show -- the sudden availability of Samsung's Mondi as well as the company's plans for a "refresh" version in a couple months make us think the Big D will be the next Clear market to fire up. (Dallas is one of the Clearwire markets where Samsung is also providing the backend gear.)
We couple such reasoning with what one Clearwire employee said offhandedly to us -- "so, see you in Dallas in a couple months?" Yep, we'll be there. With all y'all and yer WiMax too.
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— Paul Kapustka is the founder and editor of Sidecut Reports, a WiMax analysis site and research service. He can be reached at [email protected]. Special to Unstrung.