In a clear attack on rival AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) launched a new mobile hotspot that allows Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile devices to access the company's mobile WiMAX network.
Clearwire, which has been busy expanding its network this summer, said its iSpot device will allow users of Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to access the company's WiMAX network, which delivers average speeds of 3-6 Mbps downlink. The iSpot allows users to share the connection among up to eight WiFi-enabled Apple mobile devices. Clearwire said that the device will be available beginning Aug. 10.
Interestingly, service for the gadget will cost $25 per month plus taxes, and will be available sans contract--which stands as a much better deal than Clearwire's $40 per month unlimited WiMAX plan. The pricing is a clear stab at AT&T Mobility, the exclusive U.S. provider of cellular service for Apple's iPhone and iPad. For the iPad, AT&T offers no-contract plans at either 200 MB for $15 per month or 2 GB for $25 per month. AT&T offers similar, albeit postpaid, data pricing for the iPhone.
On its company blog, Clearwire noted that "if you take advantage of the $25/mo service plan, your iSpot will only work with iPod touches, iPads, and iPhones. If you want it unlocked to work with any wi-fi enabled devices (laptops, Macbooks, smartphones etc) our Customer Service team can unlock it it you decide to go with the same monthly service plan that is available for the CLEAR Spot 4G." Clearwire's Spot 4G device requires a $40 per month service plan and two-year service contract.
Mobile hotspot products have picked up steam in the market lately. A Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) device capable of bringing 3G connectivity to the iPod touch recently passed FCC testing. Additionally, in June Clearwire unveiled two mobile hotspot devices and a new USB modem. The company has also promised to launch two WiMAX phones later this year from HTC and Samsung.
Earlier this week Clearwire launched its WiMAX service in Jacksonville, Fla.; Wilmington, Del.; Stockton and Modesto, Calif.; and Grand Rapids, Mich. Clearwire's service now is available in 49 markets covering 51 million people, and the company expects to have 80 markets and 120 million POPs covered by the end of the year. Clearwire reports its second-quarter earnings after the market closes today.
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