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
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).
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.
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.