This Week in WiMax

12:50 PM -- This week in WiMax, here are the big issues, as I see them:

Clearwire revamps, starts big Q4 with Philadelphia
If you only read the press releases, you might know that Clearwire "officially" added two smaller markets to its mobile WiMax stable on Oct. 1: the now-4G towns of Milledgeville, Ga., and Salem, Ore. But for close Clearwire-watchers, there was much more afoot at the company's Clear.com Website, with a snazzy new design, new interactive features -- and yes, live services in Philadelphia, without a doubt Clearwire's biggest market to date.

Though nothing's on the record, company sources Thursday confirmed the "soft" launch in Philly, ahead of official press-release sanctioned announcements later this month. That has become the standard MO for Clearwire. It's perhaps a wise way to break in retail outlets and resellers to get the kinks worked out a bit -- so that when the lights officially come on, everybody knows their parts in the play. Our guess is that citizens of Chicago and the Dallas/Fort Worth "metroplex" may also soon be able to order up mobile WiMax from Clearwire, ahead of any official announcement bell.

And from the looks of it, all new customers should be able to sign up for the half-off-for-six-months discounts Clearwire started offering in September. Originally those plans carried a Sept. 30 expiration date, but on the new site it appears as though the six-month deal is available on an ongoing basis -- good news for folks wanting a discount with their mobile broadband.

For Clearwire, there may be no more important selling time than the next three months: If you recall, during the Aug. 11 second-quarter earnings call Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow predicted that the company's net subscriber adds during Q4 would be more than the previous three quarters combined. This doesn't say a lot about Clearwire sales for the first nine months of 2009, but it does mean that the last three months are crucial for Clearwire if it wants to carry its market-launch momentum to the next step of funding and expansion. Opening the gates in Philadelphia on the first day of the quarter, with a spiffy new Website, is a good way to start.

— 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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