Just in time for the Monday-after-Thanksgiving shopping spree, Clearwire and Sprint are officially launching their WiMAX wireless broadband services in the Los Angeles area on Monday, Nov. 29, a couple days earlier than previously promised. The companies are also making services available in several other major markets, including Miami and Cleveland, while also confirming that WiMAX services will go “live” in the San Francisco market on Dec. 28.
The little-bit early LA launch wasn’t any secret if you are at all tuned in to the 4G marketing scene, since just about every Sprint employee who is on Twitter (and there are a bunch of them) was making Thanksgiving weekend noise about free 4G food truck promotions in Los Angeles on Monday. Not hard to guess what that was going to be all about, and the press releases from both Sprint and Clearwire are already live.
Your intrepid roving WiMAX service tester was actually in the LA basin over this holiday, but a couple tests in the Santa Clarita/Venice area yielded no successful 4G connections, so maybe the network isn’t built out all the way to the Grapevine just yet. (Indeed, a quick glance at Clearwire’s excellent and accurate coverage maps shows that the network coverage for now stops around Burbank on the north side.)
One of the more curious items in the blizzard of announcements and releases is Clearwire’s press release on the availability of retail Clear brand services in Miami, a market the company previously said it might delay or not offer retail services in as part of its self-imposed budgetary slowdown (ed. note: see update below). Could it be that a financial agreement has been reached between Clearwire and its majority owner Sprint, or some other potential or existing investors? We have reached out to Clearwire for more info and will keep you all posted. Sure there is more news to come later this week.
With services now in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Miami, along with (finally!) the availability of Sprint-branded services in Washington, D.C., the Sprint/Clearwire team has claimed a few more “4G firsts” in those “NFL cities” that Verizon is targeting with its still-forthcoming launch of Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. And to try and entice more folks to sign up Clearwire is now heavily into product discounts and promotions like its 80 percent off Thanksgiving sale on its Clear Spot 4G mobile router, advertising it for just $20 — the kind of subsidization the company once said it didn’t ever want to provide. Not that we think it’s a bad idea — always best to do anything to grab a customer win while you can.
UPDATE: With a 4G-speed email reply, Clearwire reps clarified our Miami question above, noting that Clear retail stores will not be opening in South Beach but that customers can still buy Clear goods and services online via Clear.com.