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Clearwire Gains WiMAX Milestone--or Does It?

Clearwire has emerged as a primary player in the U.S. mobile WiMAX market. A March initial public stock offering provided a new infusion of capital and now it's up to the company to deliver on the promise of WiMAX. Unfortunately, this announcement is much less than meets the eye. The company is exercising creative marketing by referring to its new PC Card wireless modem as a "WiMAX-class" product. This product, which won't even be available until the second half of 2007, is not compatible with the WiMAX 802.16e standard and it never will be. Instead, it operates over Motorola's proprietary Expedience network, which Clearwire has deployed in 13 states. None of the five largest U.S. metro areas are covered by their network. We're hopeful that Clearwire and Sprint will achieve market success eventually with their WiMAX mobile broadband solution, providing much-needed competition for established wireless carriers. This newest offering may be worth a look if you live in one of the metro areas where service is available and you don't have significant needs for data access outside your home area. But most mobile business professionals will find that 3G service offerings available from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon offer comparable performance and much better coverage.
Dave Molta
Contributing Editor

Clearwire this week touted Federal Communications Commission approval of what it claims is the first "WiMAX-class" laptop card for bringing high-speed wireless links to mobile users.

The real story, though, seems to be the focus on "WiMAX-class" rather than WiMAX-standard technology, as the laptop card works over Motorola's wi4 Expedience networks (see analysis at right for details).

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