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Summary:

Sprint’s 4G WiMAX network is preparing to go primetime in San Francisco where consumers and mobile developers will be able to see first hand what this speed makes possible. It’s in testing in various neighborhoods in San Francisco and should be up in the coming months.

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Sprint and Clearwire’s 4G WiMAX network has rolled out in dozens of cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle and Portland. Now the network is in testing in various neighborhoods in San Francisco and should be up in the coming months, just as Sprint and Clearwire promised.

I was able to access the 4G network for the first time today in downtown San Francisco on my HTC EVO, and got a solid 3 megabits per second down though only 80 kilobits per second up. Sprint is promising 3-6 megabits per second for downloads and 1 Mbps up. However, some people are already hitting speeds well above that.

The spread of WiMAX to bigger cities, like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, is important for Sprint and Clearwire in order to show more people what WiMAX can really do. It’s one thing to talk about cable-modem-like speeds, but when consumers get their hands on it, that’s when they really start to understand the possibilities of fast mobile broadband. It also keeps Sprint ahead of competitors like Verizon Wireless, which plans on rolling out LTE in 30 “football cities” this year.

Clearwire and Sprint have touted the depth of the WiMAX spectrum and how it should give them an advantage over other 4G networks. Clearwire, however, has been testing LTE and could make a switch at some point. This expansion will be  a great demonstration of the next generation of fast mobile broadband, especially in a smartphone-loving city like San Francisco that’s proven to be tough on some mobile networks.

It’s also going to be good for local developers who may not have gotten a chance to test out WiMAX and get a feel for the next generation of fast mobile broadband. Sprint’s previous closest deployment was in California locales like Modesto, Stockton and Merced. It’ll be interesting to see how developers use the added speed boost, and what applications emerge. At the very least, it’s nice for Sprint EVO and Epic users like myself, who’ve been paying an additional $10 per month for 4G access without the benefit of actual 4G access.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d):

Everybody Hertz: The Looming Spectrum Crisis
When It Comes to Pain at the Pipe, Upstream Is the New Downstream
For Operators Who Bet on WiMAX, There’s an LTE Plan B

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  1. I was pretty happy recently when I got 4400kbps down / 930kbps up with tethering to my Nexus One (on T-mobile) in Redwood City. Why pay for additional data services and/or carry extra devices when you can have it as fast (or sometimes faster) on your phone for free?

    Thanks Nexus One, Google, and T-mobile!

  2. Yep, I saw 4G coverage in Embarcadero, Soma and parts of Financial District. Speeds were about 3 Mbps with bursts of over 8.

    http://www.intomobile.com/2010/09/20/sprint-4g-san-francisco/

  3. 3 meg is 4G? I get 3meg on my nexus one in some areas. For $60 a month!

    Good job sprint catching up to 3g tech speeds with your 4g investment.

  4. News about 4G-LTE Wire issue #127 | 4GLTEWIRE.com Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    [...] usage will be the rise of 4G wireless networks such as WiMAX and LTE. Goldman es more… San Francisco's Wait for WiMAX May Soon be Over – GigaOm – gigaom.com 09/21/2010 IntoMobileSan Francisco's Wait for WiMAX May Soon be [...]

  5. Why does anyone want WiMAX?

    It is withering on the vine!

    LTE is becoming the global standard.

  6. Clear announced they will switch to LTE. They also announced they are broke and don’t have the money to make the switch. Their owners (some of them) have announced they are not going to get any more money. So, enjoy it until they can’t pay the power bill.

  7. Clearwire is overselling its WiMax services. It recently imposed an 8GB monthly cap on its users. Once users hit that limit, they are throttled to 25kbps for the rest of the month.

  8. By End of 2010, San Francisco Will Have SuperFast Wireless: Tech News « Monday, October 4, 2010

    [...] Clearwire/Sprint4G network (based on WiMAX) is currently operational in San Francisco, as Ryan Kim noted last month. I’ve been using the brand new Samsung Galaxy for Sprint and I can tell you, the network is [...]

  9. At CTIA, AT&T — and Its LTE — Are a No Show: Tech News « Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    [...] rolling out LTE to 30 cities (including San Francisco) before 2011 rolls around. Sprint WiMAX is already being rolled out in many locations. Even T-Mobile USA, which doesn’t have a pure-play 4G network, has a [...]

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