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WiMax Semantics

When Clearwire recently touted FCC approval of the first "WiMAX-class" laptop card, savvy IT watchers were quick to notice there's a difference between WiMAX and WiMAX-class.

There's no doubt that Clearwire has emerged as a primary player in the U.S. mobile WiMAX market. A March IPO provided a new infusion of capital, and now it's up to the company to deliver on the promise of WiMAX.

But the company is exercising creative marketing by referring to its PC Card wireless modem as "WiMAX-class." This product, which won't be available until the second half of 2007, is not compatible with WiMAX 802.16e and 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.

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. 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, [email protected]