Google Gets Its WiMAX; Clearwire Launches Silicon Valley Network

gigaom_icon_4G.gifWhat’s the point of being an investor in WiMAX operators if you can’t get them to build a network in your backyard? Clearwire (s CLWR) says that it has completed its “innovation” network in Silicon Valley that covers more than 20 square miles in Santa Clara, Mountain View and parts of Palo Alto.

Three of the biggest investors in Clearwire are Intel (s INTC), Google (s GOOG) and Cisco, (s CSCO) and they coincidentally happen to be based in the area covered by this network. Actually the Intel and Google campuses are covered by this network and the Cisco campus will get its 4G fix soon. Now if Cisco had invested more…it would be a different story. The rest of the Bay Area will get service from Clearwire sometime in 2010.

Jokes aside, this developer network is a good idea, for it exposes app developers to the potential of true wireless broadband, which is much faster than current broadband networks. That’s the only way they can create new apps for this bandwidth-rich network. (More details below the fold.)

Developers can expect to see peak download speeds of up to 10 Mbps, with average download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps. In contrast, some of today’s 3G wireless networks typically deliver download speeds of between 600 kbps – 1.4 Mbps.

The experience is similar to that provided by Wi-Fi, but without the short-range limitations of a traditional hot spot. CLEAR uses a 4G technology that differs from Wi-Fi called WiMAX, which provides service areas measured in miles, not feet. In addition, WiMAX technology is truly mobile and enables seamless handovers from tower to tower, similar to cellular.

Service will be provided free to a limited number of qualified developers leading up to the commercial service launch in this area.

To access the network, developers can purchase a Clearwire WiMAX USB modem for $49.99. Developer-owned, CLEAR network-ready WiMAX devices, such as the Samsung Mondi and WiMAX-embedded Intel-based PC’s, are also eligible for the program.

To qualify, developers must register for Clearwire’s developer program and describe the WiMAX development ideas they wish to pursue. Interested developers can sign-up at The developers’ website will also include coverage maps and suggested drive routes for mobile application testing. (From the Clearwire press release.)