San Francisco to Get Clearwire WiMAX in 2010

[qi:gigaom_icon_4G] Silicon Valley might be the hub of technology innovation, but that doesn’t guarantee its residents access to the latest in wireless broadband. Clearwire’s WiMAX service, like competing 4G wireless broadband technology Long Term Evolution (LTE), isn’t going to arrive in the San Francisco Bay Area until sometime in 2010, according to Bill Morrow, chief executive officer of the Kirkland, Wash.-based company. Morrow is widely viewed as a turnaround CEO who in the past has worked for PG&E and Vodafone.

I recently met with Morrow to get an update on his company, which is racing against Verizon’s 4G wireless broadband rollout. While he wouldn’t give a specific launch date, I don’t think we should be expecting a live network in the first quarter of the year. I’ve talked to some of Clearwire’s local employees, and the company is working furiously to deploy the network equipment. Earlier this year, Stacey reported that the company was hiring a lot of people in different parts of the country, including San Francisco.

Clearwire has so far launched its service in four cities: Portland, Ore., Las Vegas, Baltimore and Atlanta. The company will deploy its wireless broadband service in another 10 cities sometime in September 2009. It hopes to bring its service to the top one-third of cities that make up the U.S. market, giving it access to about 120 million potential customers.

clearwirestock.gifAfter that, the company will be surgical about its network rollouts, Morrow said. The company hopes this will allow it to remain ahead of its competitors — primarily Verizon Wireless, which is launching its LTE-based 4G wireless networks sometime in 2010. Clearwire’s network deployment has made investors optimistic about the company’s future. Over the past six months, the company’s stock has tripled to $9 per share from around $3 a share, though it has been inching lower since early August.

I will write up my conversation with Morrow later this week, after I have had some time to mull over his comments.

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