Clearwire Launches WiMAX in Philadelphia

October 1, 2009

Just like in the real baseball world, Philadelphia stuck it to Chicago again Thursday — the very night the Phillies clinched the NL East (while the Cubs lost a doubleheader dooming any longshot chances), Clearwire updated its coverage maps to show that — ta da! — the city of brotherly love had beaten Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth to the launch line as the first “big” metro area to get Clearwire’s WiMAX services.

Sporting a new, clean (clear?) look to its website — with a front page topped by the extension of its half-off pricing promotion — Clearwire has entered the fourth fiscal quarter of 2009 with a bang, rolling into Philadelphia somewhat unexpectedly, at least to us so-called Clearwire know-it-alls who had predicted Dallas or Chicago would be the first big market after Atlanta to go live. (Hey at least I don’t have to buy Dan Jones a beer now!) From the looks of its new spiffy maps, Chicago and DFW will go live soon, since on one iteration Chicago appears as a “live” dot (but on the detailed map it says coming soon).

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s an easy guess as to why Philadelphia got moved up on the launch schedule — it is, after all, the corporate home town of Clearwire’s best reseller and investor buddy, Comcast. (Too bad it looks like the idea of Comcast having NBC content to push over WiMAX aren’t true.) Rumors and speculation aside, what is becoming clear is that Clearwire is doing a good job of following through on its 4G deployment schedule, even as its so-called bigger-pocket competitors like AT&T scale back on their wireless ambitions.

Verizon, for its part, is publicly still saying that it will launch its Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in test mode before the end of the year, but good luck getting anyone from Big Red to talk about LTE at next week’s CTIA show in San Diego — according to a PR rep from Verizon that we spoke to Wednesday, there won’t be anyone from the company speaking publicly about LTE at CTIA. Guess that means Clearwire, for now, has the 2009 4G postseason to itself in the U.S.

(Big Philly map from Clearwire below, along with the new nationwide map from the site. They really should make these embeddable!)

UPDATE: Looks like the Clearwire corporate site got a makeover too. We’ll miss that old yeller site but apparently the company is (finally!) declaring its pre-WiMAX days are over…

WiMax + TV Everywhere = Comcast Customer Retention Plan

July 1, 2009

There’s no official company link between the two ideas, but it’s hard to miss the obvious “customer retention plan” Comcast is crafting with its experiments in WiMax wireless services and its TV Everywhere content-on-the-Internet test. By allowing paying customers to view cable content anywhere on the web — and by giving them a low-cost, fast and mobile way to do so — Comcast is building the blocks of an entertainment-option package that will be tough to beat.

At the very least, Comcast should be able to keep a big part of its existing customer base happy simply by helping them view the content they already pay for in more places at more times. And if those customers decide sticking with Comcast for mobile broadband is better than spending more dough on an AT&T 3G card, that’s another feather in the competitive cap.

I’d be willing to wager a pint that most people who remain cable customers do so because they are generally happy (or simply resigned) to paying a certain amount each month for a wide assortment of couch-potato entertainment that’s easy to find. They may be aware of new technology and Internet TV, but when push comes to shove they just pay the cable bill, kick back and grab the clicker.

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