Major Cities Will Get Clearwire 4G with Rivals Close Behind
Clearwire said Monday it intends to launch 4G service in New York City on Nov. 1, in San Francisco on Dec. 1, and in Los Angeles in late December. Partners Sprint Nextel (all three markets), Time Warner Cable (New York City), and Comcast (San Francisco) will also offer 4G services under their own names.
AT&T has been plagued by data-congestion problems in New York City and San Francisco, so Clearwire has an opportunity to make inroads in both markets at its rival's expense. Clearwire also has high hopes for its new iSpot device -- a mobile hot spot that offers dedicated support for up to eight Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices at the same time.
"We think customers will be drawn to [the iSpot's] initial pricing plan of $25 for unlimited data, with no contract required," Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow told investors last August.
Unlimited 4G Usage
Clearwire also recently introduced a pay-as-you-go service called Rover that may appeal to AT&T data subscribers, especially now that the 3G wireless carrier has switched to metered data plans. Rover's 4G modem prices range between $99 and $149, while the service itself costs $5 per day, $20 per week, or $50 per month for unlimited 4G Internet usage.
According to IDC analyst Carrie MacGillvray, pay-as-you-go data provides an option for consumers to experiment with the power of mobile broadband without a two-year commitment. "The opportunity for pay-as-you-go mobile broadband should not be underestimated," MacGillvray said.
Still, AT&T's network problems may be more a gift to Verizon Wireless than anyone else -- especially since Verizon already plans to sell the iPad and is widely expected to sell a CDMA version of the iPhone in 2011, noted Lisa Pierce, an independent wireless analyst at the Strategic Networks Group.
"We all know how much Apple has helped AT&T grow share, but those days are waning," Pierce said. "Since AT&T plans to upgrade its HSPA network before deploying LTE, the main 4G competitor for Clearwire is Verizon Wireless."
The Fight of Its Life
With more than 720,000 new subscribers added during its most recent business quarter ending in July, Clearwire's 4G service appears to be gaining market traction. In September alone, the network operator switched on 4G services in Boston, Daytona Beach, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Providence.
Clearwater expects to have a minimum of about three million subscribers by the end of this year. Still, that's just a small fraction of the 66 million people currently living or working within reach of the 4G towers the company operates across the country.
By waiting until this year's fourth quarter to launch 4G in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, Clearwire appears to have squandered the two-year advantage it initially held over Long Term Evolution -- a rival technology that Verizon and AT&T intend to deploy in the months ahead. Pierce now believes that Clearwire is in for the fight of its life next year in the nation's top media markets.
"We don't know which cities Verizon will offer LTE at first, but assuming these three cities are part of Verizon's initial LTE rollout, Clearwire has at best a six-month technology lead," Pierce said. "Based on current trends, I doubt that Verizon Wireless is concerned about Clearwire defining 4G prices going forward."
Early 4G adopters can purchase Clearwater's dual-mode 4G/3G modems to access the high-speed service as soon as the new towers come online in Los Angeles and New York City, confirmed Clearwire spokesperson Mike DiGioia. "We are indeed offering our dual-mode service in advance of commercially launching service," DiGioia said in an e-mail.
Posted: 2010-10-19 @ 2:56pm PT
Rover seems pretty cool. I just came across one of their videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebACfrLHGRU) and then I saw this. Surprised I hadn't heard more before.
Posted: 2010-10-19 @ 12:56pm PT
The article makes it sound like this is a service that is coming, but at least in NYC it is mostly here. This morning the speed test on my EVO 4G reported 8.4Mb/s down, 1.2Mb/s up! No need for cable or DSL. 4G all the way!