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Mobile WiMAX service expands

Oct 27, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Mobile WiMAX provider Clearwire Communications has announced plans to offer service in eight additional U.S. cities during the fourth quarter, for a total of more than 25 markets by year's end. In related news, Clearwire demonstrated international roaming via Aicent's WRX (WiMAX roaming exchange), and the Maravedis analyst firm said WiMAX subscriptions are increasing 74 percent year-over-year.

WiMAX, or IEEE standard 802.16, was originally envisioned as a low-cost, last-mile link for metropolitan area networks (MANs) and rural areas with subscriber densities too low to justify traditional broadband infrastructure deployments. Compared to WiFi (802.11), it would support many more users per access point, and work better without an unobstructed "line-of-sight" path between antennas, Intel said when it announced the technology in 2004.

Subsequently, WiMAX was adopted by mobile companies who saw its potential as a "4G" (faster than 3Mbps) mobile data delivery technology. The 2005 WiMAX 802.16e (Mobile WiMAX) standard added cell-to-cell handoff, as well as other features needed to support non-fixed clients.

In the U.S., Mobile WiMAX made its debut with Sprint's XOHM service, which launched in November of last year in Baltimore. Sprint subsequently spun its XOHM business assets out into Clearwire Corporation, a separate company whose strategic investors now additionally include Intel Capital, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Google, and Bright House Networks.

Clearwire's Mobile WiMAX services, touted as providing download speeds of 3 to 6Mbps, "with bursts over 10Mbps," are sold directly by Clearwire as "Clear," by Comcast as "High-Speed 2go," and Sprint as "Sprint 4G." As of the end of July, the service was available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Portland.

Expanded service

In July, Clearwire said it would bring its Mobile WiMAX service to 80 markets, covering up to 120 million people, by the end of 2010. Now, the company has detailed what it hopes to accomplish by the end of 2009. According to Clearwire, by year's end, WiMAX services offered under Clearwire, Compact, and Sprint brands will have reached more than 30 million people, in more than 25 different markets.

According to Clearwire, areas covered by January 2010 will include:

  • Atlanta and Milledgeville, GA
  • Baltimore
  • Boise
  • Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro, NC
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Abilene, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Killeen/Temple, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Waco and Wichita Falls, TX
  • Honolulu and Maui, HI
  • Las Vegas
  • Philadelphia
  • Portland and Salem, OR
  • Seattle and Bellingham, WA

Of these, it is said that Philadelphia will receive service "in the next several weeks," and Chicago — which ironically had been one of the first localities promised service by XOHM — will get service in November. Clearwire, Comcast, and Sprint will all begin reselling the service to the Seattle/Tacoma area in November, the companies said.

Meanwhile, Clearwire is using this week's WiMAX Taipei conference in Taiwan to show how WiMAX subscribers could be offered international roaming in the future. In the demonstration, a USB WiMAX modem and a Clear username and password were employed to gain access to a Taiwanese WiMAX network, thanks to WRX (WiMAX roaming exchange) software and services from Aicent, according to the companies.

Attendees at WiMAX Taipei, which runs through Oct. 28, are reportedly being treated to a wide array of WiMAX-enabled devices. For example, a WiMAX-equipped taxi allows passengers to surf the net, use a range of location-based services, or watch TV, via a tablet computer, according to the Tweak Town website.

More subscribers

WiMAX subscriptions continue to grow worldwide, and had reached approximately 4 million strong by the second quarter of 2009, according to an analyst report quoted by our sister site Author Michelle Maisto cites an Oct. 20 report from analyst company Maravedis stating that WiMAX subscriber growth in the second quarter of this year increased 16.5 percent over the first quarter, showing a 74 percent year-over-year growth since the second quarter of 2008.

Maisto adds that 45 new devices obtained WiMAX Forum certification between June and September of this year. These included 18 notebooks, four wireless PC cards, 12 USB dongles and three chipsets, she writes.

Meanwhile, a July report by Juniper Research predicted that there will be 50 million WiMAX subscribers worldwide by 2014. Much of the growth will be driven by the original goal for the wireless technology: providing broadband to underserved areas that pose logistical challenges to wired broadband networks, the research firm said.

A WiMAX-enabled taxi

Source: Tweak Town
(click to play)


TweakTown's report on the WiMAX-enabled taxi may be found here. eWEEK's report on the growing number of WiMAX subscribers may be found here.

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