Clearwire took another step forward in its U.S. WiMAX build-out on Tuesday by officially turning on the lights for WiMAX in 10 new markets. Eight of the new WiMAX markets are in West Texas:
- Corpus Christi
- Wichita Falls
The other two markets are Bellingham, Washington and Boise, Idaho. That brings the total number of U.S. markets with Clear WiMAX service to 14. Clearwire already has WiMAX deployed in Baltimore, Maryland, Portland, Oregon, Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Clearwire's WiMAX service gives customers the ability to combine broadband Internet in their homes with mobile broadband throughout their metro area. Without WiMAX, customers would normally have to pay for both fixed cable/DSL service plus $60/month for 3G broadband from one of the cellular providers. WiMAX offers speeds of about 3-5 Mbps, so it's slower than cable but a little faster than DSL and much faster than 3G service.
Clearwire's Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert said, "Clear combines two of the most exciting technological advances of our generation ─ mobile communications and the Internet ─ in order to free our customers to take their rich home or office broadband experience with them anywhere around town or on the go."
When Clearwire reported its 2Q earnings to Wall Street on August 11, it also reported that it is on track to launch WiMAX in at least 10 more markets by the end of 2009:
- Charlotte, NC
- Raleigh, NC
- Greensboro, NC
- Honolulu, HI
- Maui, HI
- Dallas/Ft. Worth
- San Antonio
In 2010, Clearwire plans to launch WiMAX in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Houston.
Clearwire is in a race against the clock. It's needs to get markets established and start generating revenue in order to fund the rest of its build-out. It also needs to get its new broadband technology and business model established before Verizon starts its LTE deployments in earnest in 2010. Clearwire is building a nice lead in mobile broadband at the moment but if it stumbles at all, it risks getting run over by Verizon.
One factor that could assist Clearwire is its partnerships with cable providers Comcast and Time-Warner, which are expected to offer their customers cable/WiMAX bundles once the stars align in overlapping markets.