Comcast expands WiMAX game in Eastern markets

Cable firm Comcast widened its support for WiMAX and expanded its rivalry with telecom players AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) with the extension of its High-Speed 2go service to additional Eastern markets. Comcast said it will begin offering its CDMA/WiMAX service in Baltimore, Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania markets of Harrisburg, York, Scranton, Reading, Lancaster, State College and Lebanon.

Comcast now offers its High-Speed 2go in more than a dozen markets, including cities in Texas, Oregon, Washington, Georgia and elsewhere.

Comcast is an investor in WiMAX carrier Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), and Comcast's WiMAX rollouts are contingent on Clearwire's WiMAX market launches. Clearwire plans to offer services in 80 markets, covering 120 million people, by year-end. The CDMA portion of Comcast's offering relies on Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) CDMA network.

Comcast isn't the only cable company embarking on a WiMAX play through Clearwire. Time Warner Cable too is a Clearwire investor, and offers WiMAX/CDMA services in various Clearwire markets.

Comcast's efforts are an attempt to combat the wireless threat of telecom behemoths such as AT&T and Verizon, which offer nationwide wireless services alongside wired Internet access and voice calling. Comcast is playing wireless into its service bundles with offerings starting at $54.99 per month, which includes Comcast's home Internet service, a WiFi router and nationwide 3G mobile network access. For an additional $15 per month, consumers can upgrade to Comcast's "Fast Pack Nationwide Preferred," which adds WiMAX to the lineup.

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