Clearwire and Cisco announced May 12 an alliance to enhance and expand Clearwire’s 4G mobile WiMax network, currently limited to Baltimore and Portland, Ore. The deal names Cisco as Clearwire’s IP NGN (national Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network) core infrastructure provider with Cisco to build new mobile WiMax devices for the consumer, small office or home office, and small and medium-sized business markets.
Clearwire said in March it plans to roll out all-IP 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.
“By teaming with Cisco…we’re building a robust and cost-efficient next-generation network that’s designed specifically for delivering rich broadband services,” Scott Richardson, Clearwire’s Chief Strategy Officer, said in a statement. “In addition, Cisco plans to develop WiMax technology for end-user devices, which will give consumers and businesses more compelling ways to stay connected through our…4G service.”
Clearwire has selected and is in the process of testing and certification of a Cisco IP NGN architecture that includes Cisco 7600 Series Internet routers, Cisco ONS 15454 and Cisco ONS 15310 platforms, Cisco ASA Firewalls and the Cisco Service and Application Module for IP (SAMI) Home Agent.
“Clearwire’s ecosystem of partners, coupled with our all-IP next-generation network, will deliver a true mobile broadband experience,” said Ned Hooper, Cisco’s senior vice president of corporate development. “In addition, incorporating WiMAX into our products will help enable people to move freely throughout the United States, while maintaining continuous connectivity to personalized applications and services.”
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.