Clearwire to launch WiMax in Las Vegas on July 21

The launch brings mobile WiMax to a fourth major U.S. market

Clearwire will start offering its mobile WiMax wireless data service commercially in Las Vegas on July 21, building on its still-sparse coverage area with a fourth major city.

The service provider is gradually rolling out a planned national network based on the standardized technology, offering fast Internet access at home and on the road. It launched WiMax service in Portland, Oregon, in January and in Atlanta last month.

A Baltimore network turned on last year by Sprint Nextel will also become part of Clearwire's system. The WiMax service, called Clear, is designed to offer between 4Mb per second (Mbps) and 6Mbps.

Clearwire will kick off the Las Vegas network with a consumer event at the Town Square Mall at 4 p.m. July 21, it said in a media advisory Tuesday.

The company, formed by Sprint and the original Clearwire wireless broadband provider, has set up WiMax demonstration networks in Las Vegas during telecommunications trade shows in the past.

Now, WiMax will go on sale to the average consumer there for the first time. Las Vegas is a city of more than 500,000 residents in a county of nearly 2 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Mobile WiMax is based on an already-completed standard and is being deployed by a number of service providers around the world.

But the technology will need to share the market for fast 4G (fourth-generation) mobile data with LTE (Long-Term Evolution).

There are no major commercial LTE networks today, but that technology has been chosen by many of the world's mobile operators.

Clearwire has said it will also offer service this year in cities including Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Seattle, Honolulu and Charlotte, North Carolina.

It will serve 80 markets, including New York, Washington, Houston, Boston and San Francisco, by the end of next year, the company has said.

The service is sold on a variety of plans, from a US$10 day pass to a US$40 monthly mobile Internet plan. Client devices are offered at Clear's own retail shops and some Best Buy stores.

Several cable operators plan to resell the service, and Comcast is already offering it in Portland.

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
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