As the battle for 4G supremacy heats up, Clearwire last week at the Cable Show in D.C. showed off an in-car entertainment setup powered by its WiMAX network. On display were two demo vehicles, one of which was set up in Sprint’s booth, rigged with WiMAX-equipped computer stations.
The Clearwire team showed me various examples of streaming video from Hulu and a Slingbox, as well as that of a live traffic camera feed. In an effort to tout its bandwidth capabilities, Clearwire also showed off some web speed tests; I witnessed as high as 10Mbps+ and as low as 2Mbps.
Clearwire’s had discussions with several CE manufacturers interested in creating “pluggable” type technologies, which let consumers port gear between their homes and cars, according to reps. One of the demo vehicles had a Sony PSP with video playing on it strapped to the back of a seat, as well as a portable Wi-Fi base station that was connected to the WiMAX network via a little Motorola dongle.
Stacey has written several posts on GigaOM about the WiMAX vs. LTE battles that will continue to grow over the next couple of years as providers pick sides and roll out their 4G solutions. Clearwire was unsurprisingly bullish on its technology; reps cited what they referred to as its “huge spectrum position” and what amounts to an advantage in backhaul capacity of some 10 times. Setting up new technologies such as WiMax or LTE is not trivial. Citing their own experience with delays of equipment setup and testing, the reps I spoke with said they think carriers are underestimating the length of the trial periods needed to get the LTE systems up, tested and stable before they can do widespread rollouts.
Clearwire is currently running trials in Portland, Ore., and Baltimore and is teeing up Vegas and Atlanta next to be ready by mid-year. They are also rebranding the Baltimore market, away from the original Sprint XOHM branding.
Nate D’Amico works with telecommunications providers on implementing SaaS solutions for their business and consumer customers. He’s also written for our sister site OStatic.