Samsung plans to debut its Mondi WiMax tablet for Clearwire customers on Aug. 1 in Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., the four markets where Clearwire has rolled out its 4G mobile Internet service.
The 4.3-inch touch-screen Mondi offers WiMax and Wi-Fi connectivity with a QWERTY keyboard, optical mouse, GPS and the Opera 9.5 browser. The Mondi runs on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, but contains no voice component. It will be available in select Best Buy stores in Clearwire markets and Clearwire retail outlets for $449 without a contract and $349 with a two-year Clearwire contract.
On the same day Samsung brings out the Mondi, Clearwire said it will offer the Clearwire 4G+ Mobile USB, a dual-mode 4G/3G modem for customers who travel outside of the company’s 4G coverage. The USB device uses Sprint’s nationwide 3G network for Internet service outside of Clearwire’s service area.
In addition, Clearwire announced that it will introduce software that connects Apple Mac laptops to the Clearwire network using a USB modem. The software is compatible with existing Clearwire USB 4G WiMax-only modems and will be available for download from clear.com. Dual-mode 4G+ Mobile USB service is expected to be available for Macs in the fourth quarter.
As part of a multiyear network build-out plan, Clearwire plans to add additional 4G network service in Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia, Seattle and Charlotte, N.C., by the end of 2009. Some of the additional markets in which launches are planned in 2010 include New York, Boston, Washington, Houston and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Clearwire and Sprint Nextel are the only two U.S. carriers betting on WiMax technology to deliver 4G wireless broadband. Verizon 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.
Sprint Nextel opened the original U.S. WiMax market in Baltimore in 2008. 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 Wireless Jan. 6 rolled out a WiMax network in Portland.
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.