Mobile WiMax to be rolled out in Atlanta in June

Published 18 May 2009

Clearwire says it will roll out mobile WiMax in Atlanta next month, with other cities to follow

In what is potentially important news for first responders and other emergency personnel, WiMax pioneer Clearwire said in a conference call with investors late Wednesday they were on track to launch Mobile WiMAX in Atlanta this June.

Our network development work is ramping well as we work toward launching our CLEAR branded mobile broadband services in a number of new markets this year including Atlanta in June, Las Vegas this summer and Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas/Ft. Worth later in the year. We also plan to upgrade our largest existing markets — namely Baltimore, Seattle, Honolulu, and Charlotte during 2009,” new Clearwire chief executive William Morrow said in a statement.

PC Mag’s Sascha Segan reports that Clearwire currently operates three incompatible high-speed wireless networks: a WiMAX system in Portland, Oregon’s branded Clear system, another in Baltimore branded Xohm, and a “pre-WiMAX” system in 46 other cities. The company has previously said they aim to bring all three systems under one umbrella, with Clear and Xohm merging sometime this summer.

Note that Sprint resells Clearwire’s Baltimore network under the name “Sprint 4G.” They have a dual 3G/4G modem for the service, and have previously said they want to introduce dual-mode phones in the future as well. Cable companies including Time Warner and Comcast will also start selling Clearwire’s service soon, Morrow said on an investors’ conference call. Comcast will resell service in Portland, and Time Warner will resell service in one of Clearwire’s other markets, Morrow said.

Clearwire has had a considerable head start in the race to high-speed, mobile wireless networks, but other companies have been gaining on it. Verizon Wireless recently said that the company will roll out a competing LTE technology in 20 to 30 cities in the second half of 2010. Morrow says Clearwire has until 2012 to prove itself. “We have three years in the WiMAX community, not just Clearwire, to be able to show what this technology is capable of,” Morrow said in he said in a transcript on

WiMax offers much better wireless communication than the prevailing wireless 3G. The fact that its range is much shorter than conventional wireless caused problems for the mobile version of the technology, but with these problems largely addressed, mobile WiMax appears ready for prime time. First responders and emergency services would be able to relay not only voice messages, but would find it much easier to transmit pictures, blue-prints, maps and other graphic-heavy materials which would make rescue missions more effective.