Clearwire launches WiMAX service in Portland

Clearwire launched its mobile WiMAX service under the brand name "Clear" in Portland, Ore., yesterday, making it the second city--after Baltimore, Md.--in the United States to support the 4G technology.

The new service in Portland is cheaper than the service launched under Sprint Nextel's WiMAX Xohm brand this past fall. Home Internet service starts at $20 per month, and mobile WiMAX service starts at $30 per month. Users can also buy a $10 day pass. The $30 rate offers users 200MB of monthly data usage; for $40 users can get 2GB and for $50 there is unlimited data access. In addition, users have to buy a $50 modem (or lease it for $5 per month).

The service and equipment costs are cheaper than Sprint's were. Xohm's services cost $35 per month at home at $45 for mobile Internet. Xohm's original home modem also cost $80 and Sprint 4G--the brand that Sprint will use to carry Clearwire's WiMAX service as an MVNO--offers a dual-mode 3G/4G modem for about $150.

Clearwire has indicated it will launch mobile WiMAX in more markets in 2009, including Atlanta, Chicago and Boston, but has yet to give firm dates for more launches. Some analysts have cautioned that Clearwire, despite receiving $3.2 billion in capital investments from Intel, Google, Comcast and others, may not have enough capital to proceed with an overly ambitious rollout plan and may have to scale back its plans.

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