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Sprint Readies Mobile WiMAX Expansion

Overland Park, Kan. — Sprint announced a timetable for extending commercial Mobile WiMAX service beyond Baltimore, and the timetable closely follows previously announced plans by Clear, the WiMAX network operator partly owned by Sprint.

Clear operates the 4G Mobile WiMAX network whose airtime Sprint is reselling. Other Clear investors are cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Networks, all of which also plan to resell Clear’s WiMAX service under their own names.

The 2.5GHz network offers peak downlink speeds of up to 12Mbps in Baltimore today and average downlink speeds of 2Mbps to 4Mbps, Sprint said. The speeds are three to five times faster than current 3G services, the company said.

In 2009, Sprint said, it will market 4G service in “many markets,” including but not limited to Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle. In 2010, Sprint will launch in multiple markets, including Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington.

Earlier in March, Clear announced that it would follow up its Baltimore and Portland launches in mid year in Atlanta and Las Vegas. In the second half, Clear said it would launch Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte, Seattle and Honolulu. In 2010, those markets will be followed by New York, Washington, Houston, Boston and the San Francisco Bay area, the company said at the time. Other undisclosed markets will bring the total count to 80 by the end of 2010, Clear said.

As part of the Sprint rollout, the company said it plans “several” new WiMAX devices in 2009 and 2010, including a single-mode 4G data card, WiMAX-embedded laptops, a SO/HO broadband modem and a tri-mode phone.

“Sprint 4G-enabled smartphones have the promise of delivering processing power, applications and now the network connectivity to replace the laptop paradigm,” the company noted.

The new products would join a dual-mode 3G/4G USB Modem U300.

The U300 is available nationwide through Sprint telesales as well as through Sprint retail stores, Best Buy stores and local retailers in Baltimore, where Sprint launched 4G service in September 2008. The price is $79.99 with a $50 mail-in rebate.