Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Time Warner Cable formally launched mobile WiMAX service in New York City. Clearwireand Sprint also launched WiMAX service in Hartford and New Haven, Conn.; New Brunswick and Trenton, N.J.; and Tampa, Fla.
The New York launch is a major milestone for Clearwire, which is planning to cover 80 markets and 120 million POPs by year-end. Sprint and Clearwire have said they also will launch in Los Angeles Dec. 1 and in San Francisco in late December.
While Clearwire and Sprint have trumpeted their 4G lead on rivals, the companies' time-to-market advantage soon will be narrowed significantly. Verizon plans to launch LTE in 38 markets--including Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco--and at 60 airports before year-end. MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) has launched its own LTE service in Dallas, Detroit and Las Vegas.
Separately, Clearwire has been conducting LTE tests in Phoenix, and recently said it recorded a peak downlink speed of 90 Mbps in the tests.
In an interview with GigaOM, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said WiMAX made sense for Sprint because it allowed Sprint to gain a time-to-market advantage.
However, Hesse hinted Sprint could offer devices supporting both WiMAX and LTE via Clearwire's possible move to LTE. "We have so much spectrum that we decided to do tests so in case we have multi-modal phones with other air interfaces, we can add LTE on top of WiMAX and run both networks," he said. He added that Sprint has not made any decision to add LTE to its own CDMA network and that the company does not currenlty intend to do so.
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