Wi-Fi

WiMAX is about to take its big leap in the U.S.

WiMAX is finally about to arrive in 12 major metros in the U.S., including tech hubs New York and San Francisco. In fact, some customers can even get in on a pre-launch trial.

In the U.S., we've been hearing flowery promises about WiMAX for so long that many in the technology world have taken the attitude of "Wake me up when there's actually service available in the big metros."

Consider this your wake up call -- and you probably won't need to hit snooze more than once.

Up until now, Clearwire's nationwide WiMAX rollout focused on smaller and mid-tier cities. The company says it has deployed WiMAX in 52 markets, but many of those are neighboring markets in the same areas (see full map and list).

However, Clearwire is now preparing to launch its 4G WiMAX service in 12 major metros, including some of the epicenters of the technology world. On Monday, Clearwire stated that it will light up WiMAX in the following cities by the end of 2010:

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Miami
  • Tampa
  • Orlando
  • Denver
  • Nashville
  • Minneapolis
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • Pittsburgh

In New York and Los Angeles, Clearwire has made enough progress in several areas that it's running a pre-launch promotion for customers in those areas to get WiMAX service for $35/month for the first two months (the standard price is $55).

Sanity check

These fall 2010 WiMAX rollouts are huge for Clearwire. They need to go smoothly, they need to offer substantial speed boosts over 3G in real world usage, and they obviously need to attract a lot of new customers. If those three things happen, then WiMAX could get a foothold in the U.S. market. If not, then it could get overrun by LTE, because Verizon is hot on Clearwire's heels and preparing to start its 4G rollout this fall as well.

Verizon LTE is about a year behind Clearwire in its 4G build-out, but it's closing fast. Clearwire has to nail it in the big metros -- especially in New York and San Francisco where most of the tech press is -- in order to start building momentum and wrestle power away from the traditional telecoms.

WiMAX's day is finally about to arrive. Time to wake up and care about it again.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

21 comments
tecug
tecug

I live in the SEattle Metro area and we at present have 'CLEAR 4G", why are we not included in the list of cities to recieve WIFI service under Clear by the end of the year? When will we be offered this serrvice, we certainly with Microsoft headquartered locally are considered an Internet center.

christopher.smith
christopher.smith

From what I have seen in the press is news of Wimax in licensed spectrum.Hence 4G frm wireless carriers. Since WiMax is a wifi variant (802.16 I believe)where is the equipment that works in unlicensed frequencies?

ninabohn
ninabohn

Unlimited data and 5 gigs a month for 3G I included for $40 a month with no activation fee and first month is free, also no contract. If you bundle it with other services it's even cheaper.

monster_cookie2148
monster_cookie2148

Like the author said, we have heard this for too many years now. Just like cellular phone companies did in the 80's, WiMax providers will do in the next few years. Laws were passed in the 80's to add a fee (tax) to anyone with a landline or cellular phone bill to help with "infrastructure build-out" so telecomes (both wireline & non-wireline) and cellular providers could recoop some if not all their monies spent while people became slowly interested in obtaining new technologies. Included within these laws it was to include build-out into the rural areas, but we all know that didn't happen for at least ten years, and the reason for that, 1: telecoms know that people like me that live in rural areas won't pay the fees they charge in big cities and 2: there are not enough of us in rural areas to justify the cost of equipment and labor to put these systems up. That's why they built out along the interstate highways first, then some of the State roads, but here in rural USA we still can't get DSL, and more than half the time AT&T advertised "workable" system is crap and doesn't work. I finally had to take an old primestar dish, 70 foot tower, added a usb wifi to it and now I get full blown wifi 60 miles out of town off of free wifi provided in town by the city, and guess what, it's all legal, operating within the required FCC limits, and I have done away with my home phone, cell phone and gone with my own VoIp PBX System thru WiFi (simular to magicjack or skype). I say it's been too long coming, too many of us get wifi free that serves our needs, and that more cities will eventually move to WiMax and away from WiFi in the future and that if you are holding your breath hoping that you will soon get WiMax in the rural areas after reading this article that we will soon be attending your grave side services from lack of breathing air. It's all about marketing, has always been about marketing, and will always be about marketing because they (telecoms) can take articles like this and include it in there business plans when they go to rip off more monies from investors just like they did in the technology bust of the 90s.

JCitizen
JCitizen

we are out in the dessert and no one should even be thinking of serving us, but Verizon is! It may not the the 39 dollar deal per month, but HEY! We are out in the middle of no where, and we got broad band capability! They must have a 400 foot tower because you can go online anywhere for a hundred miles any direction, in this area. Speeds are comparable to DSL. I say [u]phooyee[/u] on lucky city slickers and their 4G, I'm sticking with the one that brung us! Verizon!

jsaubert
jsaubert

Hmm, if I did live in the area I might consider it. I don't, nor do I plan to move anytime soon to one of the areas that currently have it or will shortly. However I do travel to some of those areas. If Clearwire were to offer a service where you buy the device and then are able to get only the time you need with out a contract I'd jump on that in a second. There is no existing service that provides what I need. In my spare time I cover conventions and other geek events. When I need mobile service I need it for 2 days to a week about 4 or 5 times a year. I'm uploading GBs of video and streaming live content; very bandwidth draining and way over the transfer limit of nearly every carrier. I try to seek out hotels with free or cheap internet service but more often than not they are up to my needs. My last convention it took over 10 hours to upload 300MB of video. I love the idea of Clearwire but like most services the month-to-month cost for the month (or rather week) I use it plus the out right cost of the device is not worth it. I'd happily pay a fee for the massive amount of transfer I use rather than the time I don't need. "Unlimited" services (which I haven't found one yet that truly is) require 2 year contracts, so even by a conservative estimate it's $1000 over those two years for about 50 days total of use for me. Give me a device for $100-$150 and I'll pay you by the 1/2/5GB block I use when I need it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I guess I'm just a cheap b@$t@rd, but that's too much for me to pay for too little received in return. I'm one of those Luddites who doesn't feel the urge to carry a web access / communication device, and my home DSL is plenty fast and cheap enough.

eznasi
eznasi

I will wait until the two standards will joined together, thus, the usage prices will be drop down

cant_drive_55
cant_drive_55

The dirty little secret is rural areas are still on dialup. Maybe it isn't a secret. Probably just that no one cares. So here we are, happy that large metros now have yet another way to connect to the Internet (T-1, cable, dsl, FiOS, WiMAX, 3G, 4G, ANY G, but drive 35 miles out of town and you are lucky to even get a text message to go through. I am not one for government intervention in free enterprise, but there is precedent for modernizing rural America. Look at Rural Electrification. Plus, it grinds me when every single phone bill for the last decade or more includes a tax to help pay for this kind of rollout. The government's answer: Let's fund another study. BS! Seems to me that WiMAX would be well suited for rural locations. I would imagine that users off the beaten path could get a signal if a directional antenna were pointed their way. Better yet... explain to me why a T-1 costs 10 times as much as a DSL line. If it is so expensive, then why do Telcos and LECs abandon their premise equipment with they lose their contract?

SKDTech
SKDTech

I seem to remember reading a while back that it was developed to get broadband out to rural and subrural areas where it was cost-prohibitive install DSL, Cable or anything else due to the low population density. Unfortunately I have to agree that this is one area where government really needs to step in and back the project as it is too high a risk with little to no reward for business to get it out there.

Dimitri915
Dimitri915

Whatever, A Little to late... They'll be brought out soon.... that's all we need a new cell company that has NOTHING else to offer...

DBOConnor
DBOConnor

I read some other WiMAX related articles on the techrepublic site and I am shocked these folks who made some comments on here seem to think that this technology will be used exclusively on cellphones that are changed/upgraded every 12 to 24 months. You can use the technology on laptops and unlike AT&T who put a CAP on the download there is NO cap on the downloads with Clear if you chose to use it exclusively with your mobile phone. No one thought Android phones would take off either and look at what's happening now. Apple with it's restrictions, and refusal to change to micro USB ports are showing they do not want to make a full change and would rather dazzle you with more apps and nickle and dime you with accessories and create firmware to prevent you from using affordably priced non OEM accessories (batteries, charging and syncing cables).

mark.holman
mark.holman

I live in Michigan and the Local TELCOS are still far away from running VOIP as well High Speed FTTH out here in the Rural area only recent activity was replacing some patched up cables that had static ( aka Line Haul Noise ) so bad you can watch it on a O-Scope CRT :-) and even the current contract techs I talked to do not even want to learn how to work with fiber optic cable when I had other TELCO service. Its either contract issues, or lack of education or no desire to want to expand their knowledge.

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

I did notice that 2 very obvious metropolitan areas are left off of the list; Chicago and Houston. Why are these cities being left out?

monster_cookie2148
monster_cookie2148

Too costly for no more than what I would need it for. My needs, as for me (and many like me), are being met thru WiFi in the country for free. It's technology that is still in the infant stage. Maybe in about ten years when the masses have had the opportunity to get the bugs worked out and the high cost for service like this have dropped, then maybe I'll consider the possibilities.

ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898
ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898

I signed up with ClearWire almost 2 years ago, and got a plan for around $30 for life with a 2-year contract. We just went WiMax (my plan/rate is the same though) and were required to upgrade our modems (which they made easy). I haven't had only ONE downtime where their tower (which is across the street from me) was at 1/2 power while they did the WiMax upgrade. Otherwise, it always worked. And I get 5-bar (highest) signal every time. I am glad I gave up DSL for this. And if at any time I want to upgrade, I can. For now, even on the lower speed plan, it blows away DSL and is much more reliable. I think if they have this type of good service in the major metros and also start rolling out in Rural areas, they could be the leader in ISPs as well. Let's hope they got what it takes. I know I don't want to switch ISPs. I'm quite happy with Clear (as they call themselves now). (DISCLAIMER: I am only a Clear customer, and am not affiliated in any way with the company nor was I asked to write a review on their service.)

feeinnash
feeinnash

I had clearwire for about 3 years in nashville but they did not let anyone know in nashville from the start that they were upgrading towers and I live only half a mile from my tower and did not have service for a couple of months probably even longer and then finally I decided to call in and that is when I found out they were doing an upgrade. That is the only issue I had but I switched to comcast.

Mabrick
Mabrick

Portland, Oregon got WiMAX at the very beginning. One of the fellows at work signed up right away. He was a quarter mile from the tower with clear line of sight. He could not get a signal to save his life. The techs even installed an amplifier on the side of his house. It still wouldn't work. Like any other technology, weigh the risks before signing the contract. I advise waiting and letting others (consumers) test the waters before committing business to it.

bstockha
bstockha

I live in the greater Sacramento area where my only option is DSL from our local telephone company. If I could at least see a doubling of my current speed over DSL, I would jump at the chance.

Broosbee
Broosbee

I'm in Houston and have had it for about 2 months now. For the price, it is the fastest broadband available right now.