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Clearwire isn't Even Halfway to its 4G Coverage Goals

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Clearwire's Mike Sievert

Clearwire (s clwr) today said it now provides its 4G WiMAX service to five new cities, which brings its total mobile broadband coverage to 49 markets and 51 million people. That’s great, except that it is August and the carrier is only 43 percent of the way to its goal of covering 120 million people before the end of the year–a goal that means a considerable amount with Verizon’s (s vz) planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) network coming online soon.

Clearwire is racing to add coverage and win customers before Verizon unveils out LTE network in the fourth quarter of this year covering 100 million people. The rumor mill has determined that Verizon will unveil the network in November.

Clearwire said it now covers Jacksonville, Fla; Wilmington, Del.; Stockton and Modesto, Calif. and Grand Rapids, Mich. One reason Clearwire’s coverage may be lagging is because it plans to roll out some larger metropolitan areas before the end of the year. San Francisco would be a good place to focus in order to get the technology community excited about the service and thinking about awesome apps it could build to take advantage of the network, and it would give Clearwire a coverage boost.

Even if Clearwire trips over its ambitious coverage plans, it may not be down for long. Clearwire likely has two big advantages over Verizon or AT&T’s future LTE networks — pricing and spectrum. The carrier has deep spectrum resources, which means it can carry a lot of traffic without overburdening its network. Those spectrum resources also enable it to set pricing for its network that may end up lower than the prices that Verizon will set, and are lower than those AT&T (s T) has introduced with its new data plans. And if Clearwire does eventually switch to LTE, as anticipated, then pricing and spectrum could help it win out.

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7 Responses to “Clearwire isn't Even Halfway to its 4G Coverage Goals”

  1. Clear has ‘released’ nearly 50% but they are already significantly rolling out the remaining markets. Many EVO forum sites show people in LA, NYC, Bay Area, Boston and other markets saying they get a Clear 4G signal. They are working on many other markets but just haven’t officially announced them yet.

    Meanwhile VZW only has two cities mentioned (Boston, Seattle), which is less than 10% of their target for end of year.

    You are not making an apples/apples comparison. Seems like Clear is way way way ahead.

    Also, Clear has phones, fixed modems and mobile data cards with unlimited service. VZW only will have data cards at first and will not have an unlimited option, selling buckets of data. VZW LTE may not get anywhere if priced wrong.

    LTE chipsets are about $120 each at this time. WiMAX chipsets are $24 and are expected to be under $15 by end of year. LTE has a long way to go to catch up and may not be feasible in US if VZW doesn’t offer unlimited or prices the ‘buckets’ wrong.

  2. You are right, Clear does have a long way to go before hitting 120 million pops! But there are still many influential cities which are still on plan to launch before the end of 2010, such as: New York City, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Tampa, Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh…

    To keep up on new area and product launches, follow Clear’s official blog at


  3. The New York, SF/Silicon Valley and Los Angeles markets — which Clearwire has said would launch later this year — add approximately 40 million POPs, if you believe U.S. Census figures. Throw in Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, and maybe San Diego and they’re getting pretty close to 120 M.

    Of course Verizon is going to need to hit many of the same cities to get to its nut of 100 M POPs, and it won’t be the college towns alleged by the latest lame LTE “scoop” making the rounds.