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Clearwire Outlines 4G Rollout Plans

3/10/2009 04:10:00 PM Eastern

Orlando, Fla. — Clearwire will roll out its Clear-branded Mobile WiMAX 4G network in more markets by the middle of the year with plans to cover 120 million people in 80 markets by the end of 2010, chief strategy officer Scott Richardson said during an institutional investors conference here, today.

Company investors, including Sprint Nextel and three major cable operators, will begin in the second half to offer 2.5GHz WiMAX service under their brands, he also said. The investors are Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Networks. Like Clear, the cable companies will offer a spectrum of services that include mobile broadband as well as broadband to the home for voice and data.

In other comments, Richardson said 26 laptops are available today with dual-mode Wi-Fi/WiMAX chipsets, WiMAX-equipped net books will be available in the second half, and a total of 100 WiMAX devices overall would be available in the second half.

Richardson also contended that Clear is in a better position to offer more robust 4G service than Verizon Wireless and AT&T in their spectrum, which includes 700MHz UHF TV-band spectrum, because of the sheer amount of spectrum that it owns in its markets. “In the top 100 cities, we have an average of 120MHz of spectrum,” he said. Clear launches markets with no less than 30MHz of spectrum, whereas AT&T and Verizon are limited to 22MHz of 700MHz spectrum per market, he contended. The 700MHz band’s advantage in range will work well in rural markets but not as well in urban markets, he added.

Clear launched Baltimore in 2008 and Portland, Ore., in January 2009. It will follow midyear with Atlanta and Las Vegas. In the second half, Clear will launch in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle, Honolulu and Charlotte, N.C.. In 2010, they will be followed by New York, Washington, Houston, Boston and the San Francisco Bay area. Other undisclosed markets will bring the total count to 80 by the end of 2010, he said.

The networks in these cities will be open to devices that consumers would want to connect, including CE devices, he said. Clear will eschew the 3G carriers’ walled-garden approaches to activating only those devices that they sell.

A total of 18,000 cell towers are in various stages of being built, he added.

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