If not quite coast-to-coast, WiMax is now at least on each coast. Three months after Sprint Nextel carried out the nation's first WiMax rollout in Baltimore, Clearwire-the newly combined WiMax operations of Sprint and Clearwire-flipped the switch Jan. 6 on a WiMax deployment in Portland, Ore.
WiMax's 4G technology allows for the delivery of last-mile wireless broadband access, promising faster download speeds than current cellular networks, and holds the potential to be a competitor to fixed-line broadband such as DSL. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and other mobile carriers have committed to a 3G technology known as LTE.
"Today is a historic day for the evolution of mobile computing and communications services in Portland and the U.S.," Clearwire CEO Benjamin G. Wolff said in a statement. "Clearwire is reinventing wireless by delivering an unmatched combination of Internet speed and mobility."
Clearwire plans to provide WiMax service in most of the top 100 markets by no later than 2010, although the current economic conditions could put a crimp in those plans. Clearwire estimates it will take up to $7 billion to complete the network. When Sprint and Clearwire formally closed their $14.5 billion merger deal Dec. 1 to combine the two carriers' 4G wireless Internet businesses, the deal also included a combined $3.2 billion investment by Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks.
"WiMax is a new wireless technology that raises the bar on a truly mobile and affordable Internet experience for consumers," said Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. "Intel, along with Clearwire and its partners, are proud to bring U.S. customers a next-generation world-leading broadband solution that redefines how, when and where consumers interact with the Internet."