Clearwire Sets Silicon Valley WiMax Beta Network
As the race to 4G networks intensifies between WiMax backers and LTE proponents, Clearwire angles for a leg up by giving Silicon Valley developers free access to a beta WiMax network prior to Clearwire's 2010 debut in the Bay area.
Clearwire plans to launch a beta WiMax network in Silicon Valley this summer for 4G developers. The wireless 4G service will be provided free to a limited number of developers-including Clearwire investors Google and Intel-in the one-year runup to Clearwire's planned Bay area debut in 2010.
Clearwire said last month it plans to roll out 4G WiMax networks in eight cities in 2009 and add at least another four markets in 2010. Clearwire and Sprint Nextel are the only two U.S. carriers betting on WiMax to deliver 4G wireless broadband. Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the nation's two largest carriers, are betting on a rival technology called LTE for their 4G networks.
Both WiMax and LTE allow for the delivery of last-mile wireless broadband access, promising faster download speeds than current cellular networks.
"The WiMAX Innovation Network will provide some of the world's most talented developers with a live test environment in which to build broadband services specifically designed for the 4G mobile Internet experience," Scott Richardson, Clearwire's chief strategy officer, said in a statement. "Our goals have always been to change the way people access the Internet and provide new opportunities for mobile applications. Providing early access to an eager pool of developers while we continue to roll out 4G services nationally makes perfect sense."
Cisco Systems, another major supporter of WiMax, will provide core IP NGN (Next-Generation Network) infrastructure equipment for Clearwire's Silicon Valley developers network.
"An IP network is the platform to deliver on the promise of mobility and enable developers to create new services and applications," said Larry Lang, Cisco's vice president and general manager of services and mobility business unit. "With an advanced Cisco IP NGN, these services can be unlocked to create revenue-generating offerings for service providers and a better, more tailored experience for the end user."
Clearwire plans to build WiMax networks this year in Atlanta; Las Vegas; Chicago; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas/Fort Worth; Honolulu; Philadelphia; and Seattle. Cities on the 2010 build-out board include New York; Washington, D.C.; Boston and San Francisco.
Sprint Nextel opened the original U.S. WiMax market in Baltimore last year. Following a merger that saw Sprint turn over its entire 2.5GHz spectrum holdings and its WiMax-related assets, including its Xohm division, to Clearwire, the newly branded Clear Jan. 6 rolled out a WiMax network in Portland, Ore.
As part of the merger deal, Clearwire also brought in $3.2 billion in WiMax investments from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks. Comcast, Intel and Google have already taken write-downs on their WiMax investments as Clearwire's stock price has plunged.