Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maybe WiMAX Is Not Dead

I've written here frequently about WiMAX - a couple of weeks ago I even asked if it was dead! However, I have not forgotten about the efforts of Clearwire and Sprint NexTel to build out a national WiMAX network. Yesterday, Clearwire told Unstrung the company is expecting to close the deal, securing a $3.2 billion Sprint Nextel investment ((with $3 billion from Intel, Google, Comcast and Time Warner). The deal has met resistance from AT&T with the company complaining to the FCC about the combined spectrum that would be held by the the two companies.

Clearwire is currently running a "pre-WiMAX" fixed wireless network using proprietary technology from NextNet. The company has plans to go live with its first WiMAX (802.16e) service in Portland, Oregon in the fourth quarter of this year and follow that with Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Las Vegas. Unstrung quotes a Clearwire spokeswoman:

While we are in a great position to launch mobile WiMAX in our Portland market by the end of the year, the timing of the commercial launch is based on a timely close of the Sprint transaction and whether we choose to secure additional financing in the interim.

I can see a place for WiMAX in rural areas - parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont could certainly benefit. Earlier this year I heard rumors (just rumors!) Fairpoint Communications was considering building their own WiMAX network after the Verizon territory purchase. I certainly scratched my head doubting Fairpoint would consider the cost of building something like that on their own. Now..... a Fairpoint partnership with Clearwire / Sprint Nextel building out rural areas with WiMAX...... that could be very interesting.

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