This Week in WiMax

1:05 PM -- This week in WiMax, here are the big issues, as I see them:

Could WiFi be WiMax's biggest technical competitor?
While we wait and wait and wait… and wait for Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments to take place in the U.S., it might seem as if WiMax in general (and Clearwire in particular) has a lot of running room. But Verizon's deal this week to let its broadband customers use Boingo hotspots for free, coupled with AT&T's ongoing embrace of free WiFi for iPhone customers, points toward WiFi as being WiMax's biggest current competition.

While WiMax can and does work on the move, just like cellphones, the lack of any real portable devices with WiMax embedded inside (save Samsung's Mondi) means WiMax right now is being used mainly by laptop jockeys, the sort of folks who gravitate to coffeeshops or airport lounges where WiFi access of some sort is pretty much a given these days. It's not too much of a stretch to think of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) offering some all-access contract in the near future for wired broadband, cellular voice and data, and free WiFi -- especially if those LTE deadlines keep slipping. If WiFi increasingly becomes free, the WiMax value proposition becomes a little less compelling.

TWC thinks Clearwire will stay on schedule
Nothing like some outside confirmation to prove that you are meeting your deadlines: That's our takeaway from the earnings-call news from Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) this week, in which CEO Glenn Britt pledged to launch WiMax services in four markets before year's end, including Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas/Fort Worth. While Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has said that Charlotte and Dallas are on its 2009 launch schedule, the WiMax provider hasn't provided any public hard delivery dates -- but clearly, the company is saying something different to its big investor/reseller partners, to the point where Britt is confident enough to tell Wall Street that Clearwire will get the job done. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), meanwhile, is now also reselling Clearwire services in Atlanta -- again, another vote of confidence that Clearwire's network is up to snuff.

Need to know more about Clearwire and WiMax? My Clearwire NTK report costs less than a triple-soy grande chai latte: just $4.95 at the Sidecut store. Also available for the Kindle.

— 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.

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