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Is WiMAX Losing Its Edge?

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on March 25, 2009

The big advantage of WiMAX in the race to provide fourth-generation wireless services was supposed to be as a first mover: WiMAX boosters were counting on a lead of a year to a year and a half over deployments of rival LTE technology. But it looks like that edge may be slipping away.

Sprint announced plans today to offer Sprint 4G, its branding of Clearwire’s WiMAX service, in 10 U.S. markets during this year. No offense to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu,. Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle, but these are mostly second-tier markets. Besides, counting Dallas and Fort Worth as two markets is cheating a bit, while Portland already gets Clearwire’s own service.

What’s really telling is the absence of Washington, D.C.—Sprint’s corporate home—from the list. Washington was supposed to get service shortly after Sprint launched its first market, Baltimore, last October. Now the Washington offering appears to be off the table until at least 2010.

Verizon Wireless is planning to begin LTE deployment before the end of the year. AT&T is also committed to LTE but has been mum on timing. The way things are going. Verizon and perhaps AT&T may be able to race ahead of struggling Sprint and Clearwire.

Reader Comments


March 25, 2009 1:13 PM

Where is Atalanta? Is it on the bottom of the sea like Atalantis?


March 26, 2009 3:43 PM

Yes, it is.


March 26, 2009 3:45 PM

Atlanta's a rollout city because AT&T Mobility HQ is here. Sprint loves to rub stuff in AT&T's face.


March 26, 2009 3:46 PM

[it’s branding]

Morons. Nobody's going to trust reporting from idiots who don't know how to spell.


March 26, 2009 3:47 PM

Chicago is second tier?!?


March 26, 2009 3:55 PM

Nortel (yes, the one in bankruptcy protection) has dropped WiMAX and stated that its future rests in LTE.


March 26, 2009 3:59 PM

Maybe Atalanta is a city in the state of Georogia or something. You know, in the United States of Amereica.


March 26, 2009 4:02 PM

Chicago a second-tier market?
SO that leaves New York and L.A. as the ONLY first tier cities?

Also DFW is two cities. There is a considerable distance between the two, a fact easily ascertained if you have ever gotten out of Dallas and driven to Fort Worth.

I am moving to the Portland area soon, and will be happy to have WiMax service when I get there.

Steve Wildstrom

March 26, 2009 4:06 PM

@assorted comments--I said they were mostly second-tier markets. Chicago is obviously top tier, but it slides of pretty quickly from there.

The misspelling of Atlanta and a case of apostrophe abuse have been fixed. Thanks for pointing them out.


March 26, 2009 4:11 PM

Yeah, what exactly is Atalanta? Is it on another planet? I don't think there is a city like that on mother Earth.

Matthew Flaschen

March 26, 2009 4:17 PM

If Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia are second tier, I'm sure glad I've never lived in a third-tier city. You're either incredibly foolish or spouting deliberate FUD.


March 26, 2009 4:26 PM

Steven.. a slight correction in your article is in order. Sprint's corporate home is not Washington D.C. as you stated, but Overland Park, KS.
Check it out


March 26, 2009 4:35 PM

LTE is being deployed in my beloved Chile. Can you believe it, you american bastards

Steve Wildstrom

March 26, 2009 4:40 PM

Here's the ranking of those metro area markets by SMSA/CSMA population: Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth (sorry Gregg, the Census considers it one metro area), and Philadelphia are 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Then it's Atlanta (9), Seattle (15), Portland (23), Las Vegas (30), Charlotte (35), and Honolulu (54).


March 26, 2009 4:41 PM

Sprint Corporate HQ's is in Overland Park, Kansas. It was moved back there from Washington, D.C. in the last year or so. - Seriously, get your facts straight.


March 26, 2009 5:46 PM

Interesting posts. But to get to facts onWimax, one has to agree that a heck of a lot of R&D has been ongoing for some 10 years. BW had an article in 2007," Road to Wimax", in which they dubbed Prof.Arogyaswami Paulraj, as the 'Father of Wimax'.His vision was taken adopted by Intel, several VCs, Japenese telecoms etc. Paulraj's company is the major supplier of the chips for the Sprint & Clearwire rollout here in the US and other carriers in the rest of the world,including India.


March 26, 2009 7:16 PM

Agree with the general content (ie that WIMAX is losing first-mover advantage), but take exception to one item: CHICAGO is a Tier 1 market. What is Tier 1 really? DC, NYC, Chicago, LA,San Fran? You may want to add Boston as well.

Dereck T. Dodson

March 27, 2009 11:22 AM

Everything in Digital Satellite Technology is carried by Wi-Max and Gigahertz Frequencies, it could never go away, in the Interests of Security, all those "Government-Walled" Industries, and U.S. Interests not the "pennyless" Whitehouse, the Public Market always remains several stages behind World Technology Security Operations.


March 27, 2009 12:46 PM

Atlanta a second tier market??!! There's over 5 million people in metro Atlanta. AT&T corporate headquarters is here as well as the south HQ for Verizon Wireless and HQ for Verizon Business (former MCI).


March 27, 2009 3:17 PM

This is a baseless article. LTE standards are not even solidly settled yet. There is no plan for VZ deployment in 09. By the time LTE is rolled out WiMax is likely to be so widespread that the LTE platform will become the new architecture supporting it. They can be happily married with surprising ease, the possibility of which Clearwire's CEO has spoken plainly and clearly. The "Clear" rollout has slowed a bit due to capital constraints, but still will be a first mover by a year or more in major markets.

Steve Wildstrom

March 27, 2009 3:35 PM

@fxlzrd--Verizon Communications CTO Dick Lynch said in December that VZ would roll out LTE in 2009. Of course, sprint said they would roll out WiMAX in Washington in 2008, so all such pronouncements must be taken with a grain of salt.

It's true that the LTE voice standard is not finalized and there are no handsets yet, but I think VZ is looking to the initial deployment as data only, intended for laptops. That would position it squarely against WiMAX.


March 27, 2009 5:42 PM

@Steve-- Please read Verizon's own article, published in Feb., below. I agree the comment from Dec. should be taken lightly (or forgotten in light of the Feb. comment):

Verizon’s announcement comes on the heels of industry-leading LTE network trials in the United States and Europe, carried out in conjunction with Vodafone. These two vendors are expected to build the underlying infrastructure that will enable Verizon Wireless to become the first wireless company to offer commercial LTE-based service in the United States, starting in 2010.

Also, there is no voice standard component for 4G - both WiMax and LTE will be deployed as VoIP standard for Voice. These networks are all IP - Data only. VoIP to PSTN gateways are working today.

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