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This Week in WiMax

7:45 AM -- This week in WiMax, here are the big issues, as I see them:

Sprint leading the way for business WiMax adoption
The announcement this week of a beefy portable WiFi/WiMax router from Sprint was pretty good evidence that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and not Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), will be leading the charge when it comes to marketing WiMax services to businesses. (See Sprint Offers 4G Routers.)

Given Sprint's standing relationships with enterprises on the cellular side of things, it's perhaps no surprise that Clearwire's majority owner should take the fore in selling 4G to the Fortune 1000. And trust us: A portable router that can support 32 WiFi connections isn't aimed at the consumer market.

As more markets get WiMax and more customers start using the new PocketSpot devices like the WiMax gear from Cradlepoint Inc. or the MiFi for 3G now being sold in the U.S. by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Sprint, it should be interesting to see who is buying the devices, and how they are using them. Though Sprint's new entrants are unique in that they can use both 3G and 4G services, you have to wonder how long it will take 32 users to eat up the monthly 5 GByte download limit of the 3G service contract. "You're gonna need WiMax for that" is a line Sprint salesfolk probably already have memorized.

When will we get to 100 WiMax devices?
While WiMax backers have to be heartened by the continued pace of Clearwire rollouts and product additions like Sprint's, we can't help but wonder how the industry is going to reach Clearwire co-chairman Ben Wolff's previously stated goal of 100 WiMax devices by the end of the year. (See Clearwire Launches in 10 New Markets.)

The portable routers might indeed be a broadband game-changer, but for most folks mobility is something you hold in your hand, not in your briefcase. If Clearwire and other WiMax proponents really want to get momentum rolling behind the technology, there need to be more devices -- an Apple touchpad, perhaps? -- that truly take advantage of WiMax mobility. Right now, those devices (other than the Samsung Mondi) are MIA.

Plugfest
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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