Assessment of Mobile WiMAX and the CLEAR network in the U.S.

Abstract:

In early 2006 we wrote an article titled, Will the Real “Mobile WiMAX” Please Stand Up!

It’s now almost four years later, with the Clearwire-Sprint-Comcast-TWC rollouts well underway in the U.S.  It’s time for a hard look to see if the mobile WiMAX vision has been realized.   Unfortunately for WiMAX advocates like Intel, it has not.

We now firmly believe that pure performance and coverage are insufficient by themselves to attract a large number of subscribers. This is particularly true in developed countries, where there are many alternatives for nomadic broadband Internet access. These include:

  • ever increasing free WiFi hotspots,
  • 3G data cards for laptops,
  • free DSL in hotels/motels,
  • free Internet access at libraries, Senior Centers, etc.  

Instead of just a “best effort bit factory” over the airwaves, we think that differentiated services (besides fast Internet access), new business arrangements between network operators and content providers/ managers, revenue sharing arrangements and tiered pricing of services will all be needed for mobile WiMAX to be more than just a small niche market. With differentiated services and new business models, software developers will be encouraged to create useful applications for notebooks, netbooks, and other devices (hopefully hand held) with embedded mobile WiMAX interfaces. That in turn, will entice more subscribers to sign up for mobile WiMAX service, which will encourage more applications and devices. We submit that such a virtuous cycle will NOT occur if WiMAX just offers fast Internet access on notebooks, netbooks, and through portable WiFi hot spots.

Mobile operators around the world are seeing a huge growth in the amount of mobile data traffic across their networks from smart phones, eReaders, on-line gaming machines (e.g. Japan and Korea).  This trend is expected to continue as more consumers buy smart phones and begin to use the mobile Internet. By 2014, mobile devices are expected to send and receive more data in one month than in all of 2008. Three-quarters of this traffic will be attributed to Internet access, while nearly all the rest will be from music and video streaming, the GSM Association recently said. We believe that mobile WiMAX will need to dramatically change to participate in this growth.   

A Critical  Assessment of Mobile WiMAX today:

Although the IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard supports five Quality of Service (QoS) classes between the Subscriber Station – SS and Base Station- BS, mobile WiMAX operators like Clearwire have chosen to only support Best Effort service (sometimes known as “send and pray”). This means that there are no special provisions for delay sensitive apps (like mobile VoIP or music), real time high bandwidth apps (like premium content streaming video), or other high priority services (e.g. video surveillance, public safety, emergency or first responder communications).    

“The average consumer doesn’t care about peak data rates or network acronyms,” said Dan Warren, the GSM Association’s Director of Technology. “They just care about the experience. They want to be able to watch YouTube or get live traffic updates on their smartphones. And they don’t care whether it’s a new network or a current network (e.g. 2G or 3G) that is being upgraded.” This comment partially negates the Clearwire/ Sprint claim that consumers will be attracted to mobile WiMAX because of its speed and latency advantages over 3G.

A CTIA survey found there are more than 10 million wireless enabled laptops, notebooks, or air cards that are primarily used on 3G networks. Clearwire believes the forecasted growth of these devices and the increasing growth of rich video applications will create a market niche for the company. However, neither Clearwire or Sprint have disclosed how the video apps would be deployed over the CLEAR network, especially without implementing the IEEE 802.16e-2005 based QOS. Clearwire is working on the code to make an application get a better level of service from their CLEAR network, but that won’t be available anytime soon.

As a result, the version of mobile WiMAX deployed today offers nothing more than wireless broadband Internet access for notebook PCs. Sadly, there are very few mobile WiMAX hand held devices available. Intel’s vision for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) has not been realized, while Nokia withdrew their WiMAX enabled tablet PC last year. So mobile users don’t have much of a choice in access devices- it’s either an external USB dongle, 3G/4G data card, or personal hot spot. In our opinion, fast Internet access via laptops is not a compelling combination to entice would be app developers for mobile WiMAX. Without one or more popular hand held devices and a variety of applications, we don’t think mobile WiMAX will be able to attract the critical mass of subscribers that network operators need to make money. At least not in developed countries.

Clearwire’s Mobile WiMAX network:

Clearwire’s WiMAX service (known as CLEAR) currently reaches about 30 million U.S. residents. The company plans to reach about 120 million people by the end of 2010. Clearwire has stated that at the end of the third quarter of 2009 it had about 555,000 subscribers, which includes people who have subscribed to the service via its MVNO partners Sprint, Comcast, and Time Warner, which are reselling the service. While Clearwire reported it added 173,000 new WiMAX subscribers in the third quarter of 2009, the GSMA reports that more than 9 million new 3G-HSPA1 connections are added globally every month, with about 1.3 million of these connections coming from the U.S.

In our opinion, Clearwire’s biggest asset is its huge chunk of wireless spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range. The company says it owns an average of 150 MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum in most major markets. For wireless networks, the amount of spectrum owned directly translates into subscriber bandwidth and coverage area. The more spectrum owned, the faster the data rates, resulting in higher throughput and lower latency. At the Sprint Developers Conference, Clearwire’s Scott Richardson confidently stated that “spectrum trumps technology” and that “the spectrum owned will separate WiMAX from LTE.”

Mr. Richardson made another interesting observation: “Most 4G wireless networks are limited by self interference (i.e. Self NEXT), rather than how far the signal can travel.” We interpreted this to mean that mobile WiMAX does not produce the self interference than LTE, as we don’t know of any other “4G wireless networks.”

In a somewhat ironic statement, Mr. Richardson said, “new applications drive bandwidth consumption.” With an average of only 100ms round trip latency, developers are able to deliver “more snappy applications, at higher speeds than 3G.” We wonder if that performance advantage, by itself, will be sufficient to entice application developers. especially with no hand held devices available?

Continuing, Mr. Richardson very confidently stated, “We have a super fast (wireless broadband) network which you can think of as a bit factory” for all IP traffic- for both households and machine-to-machine (M2M2) applications. The bits will go to retail or wholesale customers (MVNOs). In the future, we will have other wholesale customers that will use CLEAR as a backbone network. Our evolving business model(s) will enable a whole new set of applications. This will enable a richer web experience for mobile users. Clearwire will have U.S. nationwide coverage by 2011 and will be able to fill the broadband mobile Internet vortex. By 2011, the killer 4G application will be cloud computing on the go.”

On its last earnings call, Clearwire CEO William T. Morrow stated: “Our objective remains the same — to aggressively expand our 4G network with nationwide coverage, delivering the best possible user experience in capturing a strong share of the growing mobile data market. At the same time we are building out new markets, we are converting most of the remaining pre-WiMAX markets to 4G. Since we utilize many of the existing network sites, this process is less capital intensive than new market builds and our sales channels are already largely in place. Since we have purposefully reduced our marketing efforts with this service, our expectation continues to be that we will see a higher than normal level of churn within our pre-WiMAX markets until we complete the market conversion.”

“This past quarter we also formally launched our Silicon Valley innovation network, providing developers with network tools, APIs, and free access to our WiMAX network. This new sandbox will enable them to create, test, and build applications that leverage the unmatched combination of speed and mobility delivered by the 4G network. After just under two months, we have developers spanning 400 companies and universities across Silicon Valley. “

Comment: Clearwire’s Silicon Valley Innovation network has not been advertised or promoted in Silicon Valley. And we haven’t seen Clearwire participate in any public event here. In a recent 4G panel session co-sponsored by RCR Wireless, Telecom Council and IEEE ComSoc-SCV, not one person from Clearwire was present. So we wonder how developers here were attracted to the progarm.

Please see the comments accompanying this article:  http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2009/september-2009/clear-4g-wimax-innovation-network-open-for-developers-in-silicon-valley-0920

Morrow stated that the company is “ramping up our systems to be able to support even more wholesale customers.”  We take this to mean that Clearwire will try to entice wireless carriers (e.g. T-Mobile), cable operators, landline telcos, and satellite providers to become CLEAR MVNOs.  We also see a future for CLEAR being used to backhaul traffic from WiFi hot spots.

On wireless net neutrality, Clearwire’s Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert stated: “Clearwire applauds the FCC Chairman’s efforts to safeguard an open Internet and his desire to strike a balance between consumers’ need for open, rich access to the Internet and appropriate network management practices.” For some time, Clearwire has stated that it will provide equal access on its broadband wireless network to all Internet services and applications. We wonder how much Clearwire is influenced by Google – one of its investors and partners–which has been one of the most outspoken proponents of Net Neutrality.

CLEAR Conclusions?

Since CLEAR coverage won’t be U.S. nationwide for some time, it will be essential to have 3G/4G data cards in WiMAX enabled PCs so that 3G-EVDO is available when CLEAR is not. Session continuity between 3G and mobile WiMAX will be necessary for mobile users on the go. At least that is starting to happen now thanks to Sprint.

Clearwire says they won’t compete with incumbent wireless operators who are serving “a different market all together.” Clearwire wants to emphasize high speed, low latency and mobility. We agree that will differentiate CLEAR from 3G and DSL/Cable broadband access. But where are the apps for the notebook and netbooks that access CLEAR?

In a recent front page article, the San Jose Mercury states, “apps woo Web traffic and consumer interest back to the platform, the way flowers attract honeybees to their pollen. The popularity of Apple’s iPhone and its more than 100,000 apps that allow users to check everything from surf conditions to a bank balance has accelerated the trend.”

http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_13880971

We think Clearwire and its MVNO partners should offer new types of QOS based services (especially video) over mobile WiMAX.  Examples would be Sprint TV and On Demand On Line over WiMAX- from Sprint and Comcast, respectively.  Clearwire and its MVNOs need to attract device makers and application developers with the new functional modules they have described, but have not publicized on their Developers web site. We’d especially like to see the functional capabilities referenced above, implemented in applications for Android based hand held devices. The result would be a variety of devices and many new apps, which would then make mobile WiMAX a very attractive network to be connected to.

 If there are enough requests or comments, I’ll write a follow up article on what types of services, traffic types, policies and billing arrangements would make mobile WiMAX a big winner in the U.S. and other developed countries.

Endnotes


1  There are currently 321 HSPA networks across 120 countries worldwide, and 285 of these networks are commercially live, supporting more than 167.5 million connections. The latest version of HSPA, known as HSPA Plus, offers average download speeds between 4 Mbps and 6 Mbps. That’s the same average download speed speed range that Clearwire’s mobile WiMax service offers today.

2  We believe M2M applications for mobile WiMAX have tremendous potential. For example, mobile video surveillance, vehicle telematics, digital signage, GPS tracking and routing, resource and inventory tracking, passenger interactive monitors, smart meters, medical instrumentation for remote diagnosis, etc. However, we haven’t heard anything solid yet about these M2M applications. We are eagerly waiting for Sprint to tell us about them.

0 thoughts on “Assessment of Mobile WiMAX and the CLEAR network in the U.S.

  1. Please write a follow up article on what types of services, traffic types, policies and billing arrangements would make mobile WiMAX a big winner in the U.S. and other developed countries. However, go beyond "other developed countries" to include the first city on earth to implement mobile WiMAX: Tripoli, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya guided by Alcatel Lucent and LTT telecom in Libya.

  2. Very comprehensive post, Alan. It will be interesting to see if the rumored Google Phone is available as a WiMAX only offering. This rumor has been spreading around the Internet lately. It could help, but by itself, it probably wouldn't be a WiMAX savior.

    The other interesting comment is the use of WiMAX as sort of a backbone for various applications. Wouldn't this compete with the the MSO investors that also are providing backbone services via their cable networks?

    The interesting question is will CLEAR go the way of @Home, which was used as the MSO's vehicle to being delivering high-speed Internet applications. The one thing CLEAR has, that the MSOs can't easily get today is the spectrum. Will be interesting to see where this goes.

  3. Although a lack of exciting devices (ie any devices sans laptops) to go along with Clear wireless is a big concern, there is another area that will come to light that may drive potential and new customers away in droves. This service is being touted as "super fast mobile internet" with the ability to stream videos, play games online, and essentially do everything the "wired" broadband offerings can do.

    One only needs to take a look at Clearwire’s new addition to their “Acceptable Use Policy” (dated 11/22) to see what is coming down the pike (clear.com/legal). There is a brand new section in there entitled “Nature of the Service”. It seems to strongly contradict what is being advertised to consumers. There are already strong grumblings of 3rd party VoIP not working or running at sub-par quality. Gaming and video streaming seem to be an issue also. You mention M2M…well, that’s against Clearwire’s policy as well.

    I’d like to see Clear become a great alternative to established broadband offerings, but it is not going to do that with high latency, blocking of ports or applications, traffic shaping, and outright prohibition of up and coming services that are becoming the latest and greatest reasons for having as much bandwidth as you can afford.

  4. You have made some very good observations here. I think the proof will really be in the pudding early next year as VzW turns up its LTE network. I believe you point about the iPhone, and the fact that consumers don't really care where they get their bandwidth, just that it is reasonably priced and accessible.

    It appears that CLEAR is aiming at a target that is slowing fading away. We are seeing more and more people getting their information on handheld wireless devices, and they are depending less and less on fixed access devices, such as laptops.

    I see the observations about spectrum by Mr. Richardson to be rather uneducated and perplexing. The fact is that an end consumer will notice very little difference between a 20Mbps connection and a 100Mbps connection, and further to that the advacement of wireless technologies always allows us to squeeze more bandwidth into smaller pipes.

    I think the ability and time for WiMax has passed and the boat was missed. With HSPA out there and LTE moving in soon the need for a 'seperate' data network seems to be irrelevant.

    It is always the end user that drives the need for these technologies, I truly believe that the geographic availability of a connection really trumps the speed, and as you pointed out, I doubt that(in the current environment) a consumer will notice the difference between a 10ms delay or a 30ms delay

  5. Best Effort Bit Factory Gets Failing Grade
    Clearwire and other mobile WiMAX operators will be marginalized and not be able to monetize anything other than a bit pipe, unless they offer QoS, different services and  traffic types, policy controls and revenue sharing business models with content providers.
    A new rumor is that Clearwire will sell (an unsubsidized) WiMAX phone by Christmas 2010?
    http://www.goingwimax.com/clearwire-hopes-to-have-wimax-enabled-phones-by-christmas-2010/
    Who cares?  It would be too little to late.  Let's stop all the recycled happy talk and exploit the capabilities of the IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard!
     
     

  6. Problem with Mobile Video Quality over CLEAR
    It is important to note that mobile Internet video is much trickier than fixed line Internet video.  In particular, the great "bit factory" will produce different downstream bit rates as the subscriber transits a cell or sector vs a fixed bit rate for a stationary user.
    A subscriber moving across any given cell or sector will experience different RF signal characteristics which will directly impact his mobile video experience unless the frame rate or bit rate is adjusted to match the signal quality.  At the Sprint Developers Conference 4G session, Clearwire proposed a RF Awareness function to deal with this phenomena, but it is not documented anywhere on the password protected Clearwire Developers web site.  The ability to dynamically change the bit rate is not documented either.  Where does that leave an apps developer?

  7. Mobile WiMAX operators such as Clearwire are building out their network so that full coverage will be achieved just as the market totally closes.  Late next year, HSPA+ will offer equivalent performance to mobile WiMAX with many hand held devices available.  LTE will follow soon thereafter.  It's amazing that there is not more of a sense of urgency amongst these apparently complacent network operators.  It's now 5 minutes to midnight and the clock is ticking- tick tock, tick tock, pumpkin time is upon us.

  8. There will be two sets of responses to the skeptical comments about Clearwire.  One set will be from Clearwire engineers and the other will be from me after I talk to Clearwire next week. 
    One quick note about three ways to realize QOS and differentialed services:
     
    1.  Specify an IEEE 802.16e QOS class at session set up time (this requires QoS enforcement and specialized queueing mechanisms in the access network). There are 5 different QoS classes that 802.16e silicon supports.
     
    2.  Specify a traffic type at either subscription time or session set up time and use Policy control to enforce it via Deep Packet Inspection.  This assumes Best Effort QoS class
     
    3.  Adjust the bit rate or video frame rate based on packet loss, RF awareness or other WiMAX device specific parameters exposed and made available via a common API.  This mechanism is independent of QoS class.
     
    Probably others I haven't thought of.
    alan

  9. WiMAX 4G is not worth the cost
    One of the major drawbacks of WiMAX, as opposed to 3G or Wi-Fi, is that currently it is only available in select cites, like right here in Philadelphia. If you travel almost anywhere else you will not be able to get WiMAX service. Luckily, WiMAX cards from all three providers can also use 3G service, but with a 5 GB data transfer cap, and users will have to pay extra for access to 3G services from Comcast.

    Another drawback is that right now, the USB modem used is only compatible with Windows, so if you are one of Drexel's many Mac users, you're out of luck for the time being. Clear does offer one modem that is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 and higher, but it can't use 3G. Not only is it more limiting, since you can only use it in Philadelphia or another WiMAX city, but you would also be paying for part of a service that you can't use.
    Sprint was able to lend a review unit of their WiMAX card so we could test out Philadelphia's WiMAX network. Overall, I found that the 4G network didn't have a noticeable speed difference from 3G. I did notice that 4G was a bit slower than Wi-Fi, but the connection was more than usable for general Web surfing. In some cases, it took five minutes to load a two-minute YouTube video; others only took a minute and a half.

    The max speed I was able to hit was 3.17 Megabits a second down, which just barely falls in the average Sprint provided. Most of the time, I was only able to achieve about a half a Megabit per second down. I performed my speed tests using speedtest.net, using whatever server was recommended.

    Walking around Philadelphia, one might see green-colored advertisements for Clear's service, promoting the fact that you could use WiMAX for things like streaming TV while riding the train or bus. Based on my experience, I highly doubt that a user could have a smooth streaming experience, especially while on a moving vehicle. Moving around doesn't necessarily degrade the signal, but it can fluctuate. It doesn't help that most of the time I was only able to achieve a 20 to 40 percent signal strength while on the Drexel campus and in Center City.

    I also found the service to be spotty as you got farther out into Philadelphia's suburbs. Interestingly enough, I was able to achieve my strongest signal of 80 percent while on the R7 SEPTA train to Trenton, just before crossing the Pa. state border.

    Concluding, I would have to recommend to anyone who was looking into WiMAX service to just stick with the 3G. Users just don't get enough benefits for the increased cost. Unlike WiMAX, I was able to get a strong 3G signal everywhere I went in Philadelphia and the suburbs.

    WiMax is extremely limiting since it only works in Philly. If a user was dead-set on getting WiMax, I would recommend getting a card and service that can also take advantage of 3G wireless internet to "fill in the gaps" of where there is weak WiMAX service.
    http://media.www.thetriangle.org/media/storage/paper689/news/2009/12/04/News/Review.Wimax.4g.Is.Not.Worth.The.Cost-3845748-page2.shtml
     
    But the worst part of mobile WiMAX is the complacency and obliviousness of Comcast and Sprint to its shortcomings and deficiencies.

     

  10. Very good and interesting comments.    What does the group think about WiMAX as an IP distribution method in rural areas?

  11. Article referencing Russian WiMAX operator Yota- How to do it right! 
    While much of the US media remains focused on Clearwire as a barometer for the success of WiMAX, more attention should be given to Russian service provider Yota which has quickly become the largest mobile WiMAX operator in the world.  In less than 6 months, the WiMAX startup has gone from 0 to 250K subscribers and is currently adding new customers at the rate of 2,500 per day.  The company has also reached operational break-even just 3 months after launching its network and has proven the success of the WiMAX business model.

    The company has ambitious plans to transform itself from a Russian based WiMAX operator to a global brand of telecommunications and entertainment services.  Yota plans to expand to 180 cities in Russia by the end of 2012 as well as neighboring Belarus where it plans to cover 60% of the population.  Yota also has aggressive international plans and has allocated an additional $500M for international growth.  The company recently acquired licenses in Latin America and plans to launch WiMAX service in Nicaragua this month and service in Peru in 2010. 
     
    As impressive as its growth is the vast collection of products and services offered on its network including over 65 WiMAX embedded products.  Not satisfied with just modems and dongles, the service provider was the first to launch a WiMAX smartphone earlier this year and plans additional handsets in 2010, including one of the first VoIP over WiMAX handsets.

    Earlier this year, the company launched the "Yota Egg" an integrated WiMAX/Wi-Fi device that receives a WiMAX signal and creates a personal Wi-Fi hotspot (similar to the CLEAR Spot launched by Clearwire, although the Yota Egg is completely integrated).  Based on discussions with Yota executives, a popular application for its customers has been to use the device in automobiles along with an iPod or other Wi-Fi connected device to stream internet radio through the car's audio system.  This is just one example of what is possible when customers have access to a mobile, always connected broadband network.
     
    http://wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2009/december-2009/wimax-forum-americas-congress-2009-1208

  12. There is no way that large mobile WiMAX networks in developed economies (with high mobile penetrations, substantial and growing momentum behind the mobile internet) can succeed commercially  if they do not offer iPhone-like or -comparable devices.
    Current HSPA and EV-DO Rev.A networks with much wider geographic coverage and comparable speeds – as well as the advantage of compatibility with other, including  earlier generation networks, worldwide – already do.   Key components and device developers are focusing their engineering resources on these 3G technologies (as well as on the emerging and at this stage inevitably much larger future deployments of LTE) not on mobile WiMAX. 
    Investors assessing the prospects for various mobile stakeholders should focus on who is capturing and shaping customers' experiences, and enhancing their lives reliably and repeatedly  in terms of productivity, convenience, entertainment, and connectivity.
     
    http://www.glgroup.com/News/WiMAX-Needs-A-WiPhone-45247.html

  13. Alan's article is very informative on current state of WiMax affairs.

    1. If WiMax cannot resolve technical or other hurdles to deliver quality video experience, its appeal diminishes very significantly.

    2. It is not apparent how WiMax will attract much needed new investment and/or build solid momentum to become a first tier offering in US. It seems with every passing month, WiMax falls two months behind!
     

    1. I agree 100% with Basant Khaitan’s comments.

      IMHO, the WiMAX operators should have started planning for higher quality video services years ago
      Yet the hooks to realize such services are not yet available The premium video services that I envision (with better quality than best effort Internet) include: Sprint TV, Comcast On-Demand On line, playback of news or sports clips, live sporting events (mlb.com, nba leage pass, nhl.com, etc), video surveillance and alarming, 2 way live video chat, (vis an IP VPN),closed circuit TV for elearning or other use.

      I have already commented above (#2705) on the difficulty of maintaining high quality mobile video and how such services might be realized (i.e. QoS mechanism at IEEE 802.16e, IPv6 or DiffServ layer), RF awareness feedback loop (to control video resolution, frame rate, etc,), extended training sequence (Base Station to Subscriber Station) to match video parameters to RF signal quality and then adjust dynamically.

      Adjusting video parameters based on packet loss detection will not produce an acceptable user experience. By then it would too late to recover from lost frames and quality will suffer.

  14. Seems like Mobile WiMAX has a long ways to go to even be a me-too service as compared with other ways of offering mobile video, such as:
    http://www.flotv.com/whats-on-flo-tv/guide
    http://www.openmobilevideo.com/
    Of course, downloading YouTube videos and other web videos works pretty well for most people on their iPhones and GPhones using existing 3G networks.   The question is can mobile WiMAX bring together the network and ecosystem of devices fast enough before it misses the market opportunity.  Seems like the consensus answer to that question is, no. 

  15. Clearwire's overarching challenge will be customer satisfaction over the longer term, as determined by both customer perception of network performance and what the service enables beyond on-the-go internet access.   
    Service satisfaction will require a much better job of setting expectations. Given the limits of the company’s metro footprints and the vagaries of wireless reception, they need to make sure users understand what they will be getting. So far, I am not seeing the company sufficiently focused on this aspect. If enough complaints surface, the company will face a huge backlash for poor service.
     

  16. Highly Recommended: Clearwire and the Outlook for 4G Competition by Tim McElgunn of Pike Fischer
     
    An earlier blog post hit the highlights of this superb P and F report on Clearwire:

    http://www.wimax360.com/profiles/blogs/clearwire-and-the-outlook-for

    We have completed our review of this excellent report and recommend it highly. It is a very concise description of Clearwire's history, current status, and future business outlook. There are several easy to read charts that contain a lot of information that would otherwise take you a long time to gather on your own.

    The section on Devices is particularly interesting, especially this statement:

    "Clearwire expects there to be nearly 100 mobile WiMAX devices—including laptops, netbooks, handhelds, USBs and modems—available to customers by the end of the year. In Figure 2, we list the devices currently available from Clearwire’s Web site at http://www.clear.com, along with pricing and currently available promotions."

    To the best of our knowledge, there is only one handheld device now available for CLEAR- the Samsung Mondi (which is not very popular). Clearwire and Sprint will need to make a lot of progress on certifying and making available devices for CLEAR. Even the "personal hot spots" sold by Clearwire and Sprint require an external WiMAX modem (those hot spots are actually WiFi routers with a USB connection to a broadband network modem/DCE).

    In an email exchange with author Tim McElgunn, we find that his assessment of mobile WiMAX in general and Clearwire in particular is right on the money. His report is highly recommended.

  17. Despite setbacks and delays, Clear’s WiMAX service has attracted 173,000 customers by the end of Q3 2009 and its subscriber base is expected to increase as it continues to roll out service in the fourth quarter of 2009. Fueling this growth is a healthy amount of capital that will allow Clear to expand WiMAX to 120 million customers by the end of 2010. That is the status of their network, hit the jump to see what Clear has in store for devices in 2010.
    Growth in subscribership and service expansion are good but its the mobile connectivity hardware that will bring people in and that is where the company will see improvement in 2010. Clear currently offers a range of modems, routers and personal hotspots and will soon be adding the upcoming dual 3G/4G mobile hotspot from Sierra Wireless. Integrated WiMAX, present on many laptops in 2009, will continue to be an option on several laptop models made by Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and Fujitsu. Now that Clear has an established portfolio of WiMAX data cards and modems, it is time for Clear to focus on the catgegory of pocketable, stand alone mobile devices, an area in which Clear needs some major improvement in 2010. Currently, Clear offers a single mobile device, the Windows Mobile 6.1 powered Samsung Mondi, a rather unexciting device. This blaise portoflio of one is expected to expand in 2010, according to Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow, who said that WiMAX-enabled smartphones are expected to start arriving by mid 2010. With Sprint, Microsoft, and LG planning some big shindig on January 6th to kick off CES 2010, we will hopefully see at least one new WiMAX enabled smartphone arise out of that event. Efforts are also underway to bring Android to WiMAX  – an initiative being spearheaded by Beceem, the leading supplier of chips for WiMAX devices, in conjunction with VoIP developer D2 and WiMAX hardware manufacturer ECS EliteGroup. Last but not least, we can’t forget about HTC which already has the Max 4G, a dual GSM/WiMAX smartphone on Russia’s Yota network. If any or all of these companies can bring new mobile devices to Clear’s WiMAX service, then Clear will have a nice jump on its competition, offering sleek new handsets while future LTE providers are still building out their networks. The first step in this direction for Sprint/Clear may start as early as next week, let’s hope they can deliver something that will wow us and make us excited about the now of WiMAX instead of the future of LTE.
    http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2010/01/01/clearwire-ends-2009-on-a-positive-note-looks-forward-to-2010/

  18. Clearwire apparently moving to LTE-TDD in the U.S. 
     
    Clearwire Paves Way for LTE in US
    Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is part of a group of operators and vendors that has asked the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body to start work on specs that would allow TD-LTE to be deployed in the US in the 2.6GHz spectrum — which is now used for WiMax — in a move that further exposes the operator's interest in the competing proto-4G standard.
    http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=189890&f_src=lightreading_gnews

    This probably means we can kiss WiMAX 2.0 (IEEE 802.16m) goodbye

  19. Mobile WiMAX devices that use CLEAR 4G for high speed mobile Internet access are of excellent quality, however they are quite expensive.

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