Three of the primary tech epicenters of the U.S. are about to have not one but two 4G networks to choose from by the end of 2010, as Clearwire revealed more official launch information for 4G WiMAX on Monday.
New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area have been three of the worst places to try to get a mobile broadband connection for the past couple years because there are so many people fighting for the airwaves and only so much bandwidth available on 3G networks. That's about to change dramatically in the next two months.
Sprint partner Clearwire announced that it will be lighting up 4G WiMAX in New York on November 1, in Los Angeles on December 1, and in San Francisco in the final weeks of December. Clearwire has already launched WiMAX 4G in 56 markets in the U.S., covering about 66 million people in mid-market cities.
Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless is bringing its 4G LTE network to 38 U.S. cities -- including, New York, LA, and San Francisco -- by the end of 2010 and then expanding nationwide across the U.S. in 2011-2013. Verizon has not released specific launch dates yet.
Both of these 4G networks will have the capacity to handle faster download and upload speeds (LTE a bit more than WiMAX), but even more significant is the fact that they will be able to handle greater numbers of users, especially in high population areas. The reason is that these 4G networks were built to handle data, unlike the 3G networks, which are basically voice networks retrofitted to handle data and so they can only fling around so many bits at a time.
Keep in mind that existing devices won't be able to use the 4G networks. They'll need new chips. Sprint has two smartphones with 4G built-in -- the HTC EVO 4G and the Samsung Epic 4G. Verizon doesn't have any 4G-equipped smartphones on the market yet.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.