Will Oregon WiMAX Deployment Get Rained Out?

Portland, Oregon has 4G service today after Clearwire launched its second deployment
of WiMAX service.

Clearwire called the
an “unmatched” combination of Internet speed and mobility for both businesses
and homes, according to Clearwire, the company behind the launch.

Today’s Oregon deployment takes place three months after Sprint and Clearwire deployed
their initial Baltimore network on
September 29.

The Baltimore service, initially called Xohm, will be renamed “Clear” now that Spring
and Clearwire have officially formed the Clearwire company. The $14.5 billion joint
venture received regulatory approval in late 2008. Partners include Intel, Google,
Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

All the players are hoping to cash in on the lucrative Internet services industry as
both businesses and consumers are hungry for faster and more stable Internet access.

The WiMAX 802.16e wireless networking standard, short for Worldwide Interoperability
for Microwave Access, offers a transmission speed more than five times
faster than current wireless networks.

The Portland service costs $20 per month for residential subscribers and $30 for
mobile subscribers. There is also a daily pass option for $10. According to the company,
residential users will have a 6 Mbps download speed available, while mobile customers can
expect up to 4 Mbps download speeds.

While WiMAX can deliver speedier Internet access, the billion-dollar 4G effort faces
some formidable challenges.

First is the recessionary economic environment and the question of whether consumers
have expendable income to enjoy new additional services.

Then there’s a
legal battle
ignited last month by a Texas wireless provider that claims Sprint and
Clearwire are infringing on a 4G patent.

The third, and maybe most challenging hurdle, is whether the company will be able to
finance its network plans given that an additional $2 billion is
. That’s no easy feat given the sluggish credit market facing companies.

Though there are no WiMAX handsets yet available, Clearwire and third party vendors
are pushing out compatible modems and devices. One is a $50 USB laptop modem from
Motorola, and Clearwire offers subscribers a high-speed modem for $4.99 a month.

Last year leading computing players including Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and Acer announced
plans for building WiMAX-compatible notebooks with WiMAX chips and Internet tablets that
should will be available in the first half of this year.

Currently, there are Xohm-branded Samsung Express wireless cards retailing for $59.99,
and ZyXEL modems for $79.99. Additional WiMAX devices arriving this year include a ZTE
USB modem, Intel Centrino 2 WiMAX notebook PCs and the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition.

Future network deployments this year beyond Oregon are planned though Clearwire has
not announced any specific markets.

“Clearwire is providing a valuable service designed to improve our customers’
productivity and make their lives more enjoyable, wherever they happen to be in our
coverage area,” Benjamin G. Wolff, Clearwire CEO, said in a statement. Clearwire was not
available for comment by presstime.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

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