Comcast to sell mobile WiMAX laptop cards

Comcast said it will market wireless broadband cards for laptops on Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network in Portland, Ore. The cable company will offer the service, called High-Speed 2Go, on promotion for $49.95 per month for a year, a price that includes Comcast's Internet home service and a WiFi router.

The company will offer two different data cards and service plans. One will be a 4G-only data card that works in Clearwire's "Clear" markets, while the other will work in those markets and also access Sprint's national CDMA network and be able to switch between the two. The nationwide service will cost an extra $20 per month.

The devices and pricing offerings are similar to those offered by Clearwire under the "Clear" brand and Sprint Nextel under the "Sprint 4G" brand.

Cathy Avgiris, Comcast's general manager for wireless and voice services, said the company will eventually expand its role as a reseller of Clearwire's network and sell the service in other cities. Comcast will include other wireless devices, like cell phones, as part of its offering, Avgiris said. The company plans on expanding the service to  Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia before the end of the year.

Avgiris said that the service is meant to complement Comcast's wired broadband offering, and pointed out some of the shortcomings of wireless. "There are issues with indoor penetration, and with coverage you sacrifice speed," she told the Wall Street Journal.

In March, Comcast indicated that it would act as an MVNO for Clearwire's service. The cable company was one of the major investors in Clearwire, providing more than $1 billion of the $3.2 billion Clearwire received from Google, Intel, Time Warner and others.

So far this year Clearwire has launched mobile WiMAX in Portland and Atlanta and has soft-launched its service in Las Vegas. Sprint Nextel's WiMAX market in Baltimore is being expanded and will be converted to a Clear market later this year. Other markets that will launch this year include Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Philadelphia. The company also will convert existing pre-WiMAX markets in Seattle, Honolulu and Charlotte, N.C., to mobile WiMAX.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this release
- see this Reuters article

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