WiMax Blooms In Chicago, Seattle, Dallas

Comcast launched high-speed wireless data service in Chicago and Seattle, as Time Warner Cable began marketing its own version of the service in Dallas. Meanwhile, Clearwire -- which operates the WiMax networks that both cable operators are using -- kicked off its own retail operations in 10 additional U.S. markets.

Comcast now offers the service in Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Portland, Ore.; TWC was scheduled to launch in Dallas and North Carolina this week.

Clearwire on Tuesday announced that it has expanded retail operations and named local general managers for the Clear-branded service in 10 U.S. markets: Dallas/Ft. Worth; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, N.C.; Chicago; Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii; and Seattle/Puget Sound.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable are investors in Clearwire, which is majority-owned by Sprint Nextel. Other backers include Bright House Networks, Intel and Google.

Last week, Clearwire announced that it raised an additional $920 million in debt, giving it an infusion of $2.8 billion in new capital this quarter to provide more than enough to fully fund its nationwide WiMax buildout.

Clearwire expects its 4G network to be available in more than 25 markets covering more than 30 million people by the end of 2009, and to reach for up to 120 million people by the end of 2010.

Chicago is the biggest of the new Clearwire markets, covering 1,700 square miles and approximately 6.6 million people, and in the Seattle/Puget Sound area the network covers more than 1,300 square miles and approximately 3.1 million people.

In Texas, the service is available in 11 cities, covering more than 4,700 square miles and 8.5 million people. In North Carolina, the network now covers more than 2,000 square miles and covers nearly 3 million people. Clearwire's Hawaii network covers 800,000 of the 1.2 million people in the state more than 1,759 square miles on three islands: Oahu, Maui, and Lanai.

Comcast's High-Speed 2go service starts at $49.99, which includes 12-Mbps wired Internet service, a free Wi-Fi router and 4G service that provides download speeds up to 4 Mbps. More information on the operator's WiMax bundles is available at www.comcast.com/highspeed2go.

For its part, Time Warner Cable is offering Road Runner Mobile starting at $44.99 per month for current customers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area; TWC advertises Internet speeds up to 6 Mbps on the Clearwire network. The operator expects to launch service in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro, N.C., and Honolulu and Maui before the end of 2009, and in San Antonio and Austin in early 2010.

Clearwire's introductory pricing starts at $30 per month for the first six months. The company cites average mobile download speeds of 3 Mbps to 6 Mbps with "bursts over 10 Mbps" for its Clear service.

In several individual markets, Clearwire named general managers: Jeannie Weaver, Chicago; Daric Hollis, San Antonio; Doug Graybeal, Austin; Brian Carter, Puget Sound; Michael Nash, regional general manager for North Carolina; Curtis Heffelfinger, Charlotte, N.C.; Kyle Kennedy, Greensboro, N.C.; and Kevin Hopwood, Raleigh, N.C. In addition, Clearwire named Keith Kay regional director of sales for Clear in Texas.

Clearwire has been experimenting with WiMax-based mobile phones, starting in Portland, Ore. CEO Bill Morrow, in an interview this week with MocoNews, said the company expects WiMax-enabled mobile phones before Christmas 2010.