Ever since the Baltimore launch of Clearwire’s WiMAX network last October, we’ve been waiting for more cities to flip the switch. Today Atlanta, Ga., becomes the largest 4G network area in the U.S. Clearwire says the network is available to 3 million people across 1,200 square miles in the Atlanta area. I’ve added a coverage map direct from the CLEAR web site; the dark green indicates coverage, while the lighter green areas are “coming soon.”
With the latest news Clearwire is touting faster typical download speeds and far higher bursts than their 3G competitors:
“For example, some of today’s 3G wireless networks typically deliver download speeds of between 1.0 and 1.7 Mbps. CLEAR customers, however, can expect to see download speeds of 4 to 6 Mbps with bursts exceeding 15 Mbps, far surpassing even the peak theoretical speeds of 7.2 Mbps in upcoming 3G upgrades.”
That last bit sounds like a shot across AT&T’s bow. The carrier recently announced its network upgrade plans to move from 3.6Mbps 3G service to 7.2Mbps. Clearwire is basically trying to position itself as ahead of both the current 3G and future 3G networks. It already offers plans that are more cost-effective and don’t require long-term commitments. I appreciate those benefits, but the three L’s of wireless broadband still apply: location, location, location. Until Clearwire makes good on its 4G plans in 80 markets by the end of next year, the nationwide 3G networks still have the upper hand. Unless you live in a CLEAR-covered area, that is.