WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.

WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.

Summary: WiMAX is finally about to arrive in 12 major metros in the U.S., including tech hubs New York and San Francisco. In fact, some customers can even get in on a pre-launch trial.

TOPICS: Mobility, Wi-Fi

In the U.S., we've been hearing flowery promises about WiMAX for so long that many in the technology world have taken the attitude of "Wake me up when there's actually service available in the big metros."

Consider this your wake up call -- and you probably won't need to hit snooze more than once.

Up until now, Clearwire's nationwide WiMAX rollout focused on smaller and mid-tier cities. The company says it has deployed WiMAX in 52 markets, but many of those are neighboring markets in the same areas (see full map and list).

However, Clearwire is now preparing to launch its 4G WiMAX service in 12 major metros, including some of the epicenters of the technology world. On Monday, Clearwire stated that it will light up WiMAX in the following cities by the end of 2010:

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Miami
  • Tampa
  • Orlando
  • Denver
  • Nashville
  • Minneapolis
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • Pittsburgh

In New York and Los Angeles, Clearwire has made enough progress in several areas that it's running a pre-launch promotion for customers in those areas to get WiMAX service for $35/month for the first two months (the standard price is $55).

Sanity check

These fall 2010 WiMAX rollouts are huge for Clearwire. They need to go smoothly, they need to offer substantial speed boosts over 3G in real world usage, and they obviously need to attract a lot of new customers. If those three things happen, then WiMAX could get a foothold in the U.S. market. If not, then it could get overrun by LTE, because Verizon is hot on Clearwire's heels and preparing to start its 4G rollout this fall as well.

Verizon LTE is about a year behind Clearwire in its 4G build-out, but it's closing fast. Clearwire has to nail it in the big metros -- especially in New York and San Francisco where most of the tech press is -- in order to start building momentum and wrestle power away from the traditional telecoms.

WiMAX's day is finally about to arrive. Time to wake up and care about it again.

Also read

This article was originally published on TechRepublic.

Topics: Mobility, Wi-Fi

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  • Wrong cities for roll out?

    I have always wondered why coimmunications companies (entire industry) doesn't roll out new tech in areas with concentrated political leaders. Give them the hardware needed and get them to see it first hand. Let them lead the population rather than the otherway around all the time. Then when the industry needs to amend laws it would be much easier if their first users had become power users and actually knew something about it.
    • Clearwire is not worth anything

      Have had them for a few months, and service was good. But as more and more people used their services the download speed kept decreasing and for three weeks I had to live with 300kbps or less.

      T Mobile is a life saver, they allow up to 10GB and it replaced Clearwire when ever needed. They won't fail you. Just wonder why T Mob doesn't just become an ISP with its HSPA+ it could make a killing if it offered competitive prices to Clearwire's useless service.

      And if it rains, you can just forget your have ISP at all with Wimax, not so with HSPA+.

      If T Mob offered an unlimited service for 10 dollars more than Clearwire for a similar speed, you would bet I'd be with them, as it is reliable, Clearwire (Sprint) Wimax is not!
      • RE: WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.

        @Uralbas Actually, T-Mo's HSPA+ and Clear's WiMax have the same problems in rain -- high frequencies. It's not the protocol that matters, it's rain fade based. And it's not a significant issue below 7-10GHz.

        On the other hand, foliage and other obstacles are still bad at higher frequencies. T-Mo runs their HSPA/HSPA+ at 1700MHz/2100MHz, so they have a slight advantage in range and penetration over Clear at 2500MHz. The LTE guys, AT&T and Verizon, will blow this away at 700MHz.

        But your ultimate functional performance is based on traffic, range, and policy as much as protocol. AT&T is crowded, some of their towers are too far apart, and they cap HSPA at 3.6Mb/s and HSPA+ at 7.2Mb/s.. some cellular modems can't handle more, anyway. Most of the Clear partners cap things at about 10-12Mb/s, T-Mo currently caps HSPA at 7.2Mb/s and HSPA+ at about 21Mb/s.. but you'll never see that performance unless you're very close to the tower and it's not busy, and even at that, not with most HSPA+ devices.
    • It's not about politics

      @NoAxToGrind: There is nothing holding back Clearwire rollout that politics can solve, at least on the national level. It's had the green light from the FCC for a long time. There's always politics at the local level, but most of the time it's not the dominant issue. Places like San Francisco and New York would be where technological trendsetters are located and would normally be the first installations. However, these two cities are hard to set up wireless services in because of hills (SF) and tall buildings (NYC). It's better the first installations don't have these added complications, which is why these two cities are just now getting Clearwire.
    • RE: WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.


      Washington D.C, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and even into Harrisburg are already covered for Clear. That corridor has plenty of influential politicians.
      Michael Kelly
  • RE: WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.

    It is about competition (price) and coverage (have nots). I moved from Ohio to Colorado 5 years ago. I lived in a rural area outside of Columbus, Ohio and had a choice between DSL and Cable Modem for broad band. There was competition and coverage. I now live in rural Colorado, outside Loveland. Neither Comcast or Quest seems interested in serving our rural area. They stick to the high density areas. I am stuck with a wireless ISP that uses Motorola Canopy equipment on 2.4Ghz open spectrum. The service alternates between usable and horrible. (I can tell when the kiddies get home from school by how bad it gets.) We need more coverage and competition in rural areas than in big cities where they already have alternatives.
  • RE: WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.

    One might think, wrongly evidently, that Houston or Dallas, even Chicago would place well ahead of Minneapolis?, Tampa?, Nashville?, Cleveland?, Cincinnati? as more lucrative markets.
    • RE: WiMAX is getting ready for its big leap in the U.S.


      Since they already have service in Dallas, Houston and even Chicago, one might agree with you.
  • Clearwire in Houston

    Clearwire is spotty in Houston. It covers the densest part of the city but around the edges are many holes. That leaves are user that moves around high speed to no connection, depending. I have the modem that degrades to 3G when 4G is not available. The 3G is Sprint which has poor coverage.
  • You need to do some homework

    For one, "Clearwire" has not existed for awhile. The consortium has a public face with Clear, no wire. It's actually owned by Sprint, Comcast, Google, Intel, and some others... including what's left of the original Clearwire.

    And yeah, the "4G" offered by Sprint and Comcast is the same network.

    And it's not 4G, yet. The ITU standard for 4G requires 100Mb/s peak downlink to mobile devices, 1000Mb/s peak to stationary nodes. Not there yet on WiMax. Not there yet on LTE, either. In fact, the three Clear providers are delivering roughly 10Mb/s peaks. T-Mobile is beating them with HSPA+ (they cap it at 21Mb/s), at least when you're standing next to the tower.

    And they have some issues. Bandwidth isn't one of them... Clear et al have about 90MHz of spectrum in most areas. So they aren't likely to get overloaded. But unfortunately, it's at 2500MHz, so it's much shorter range than the LTE plans. They also have deal with WiMax's issues, specifically, the high crest factor of their uplink... this eats power.

    LTE was designed as an improvement over WiMax, and solves this with a new modulation protocol for uplink. Yes, Verizon's behind right now, since they haven't turned it on yet. They're planning to go hot in over 40 cities before the end of the year... we'll see. Last year, it was "summer 2010". AT&T is doing likewise, "summer 2011". They're both on 700MHz... Verizon has 22MHz worth, AT&T has 12MHz worth. But that's sweet spectrum... it isn't blocked by trees and rain, and not as much by buildings, versus 2500MHz. And the LTE protocol will be better on battery life when you're uploading.
  • Wake me up when there?s actually service available somewhere.