Upstart WiMAX operator clwr is apparently now selling service to Las Vegas, although it won't officially launch the whole package just yet. Word leaked out after coverage maps started showing up on clear.com, and the company confirmed the news yesterday. Las Vegas is of course on the list for this year, and will apparently follow the Atlanta launch quickly.
Such 'soft launches' will probably happen in almost every new Clearwire market. After all, with LTE perceived to be hot on its heels, WiMAX needs every bit of head start it can get right? Not to mention every bit of media attention it can get too, by doing it this way they get coverage twice for each market: once for the soft launch, and once for the formal launch. They'll need it too, if we've learned anything about LTE lately it's that even while still vaporware its backers can suck the media oxygen right out of the atmosphere for months at a time.
I'm sure that some will see this as somewhat symbolic, what with Clearwire taking its gamble to the land of gambling. But I still see much of the media coverage as posing a false dichotomy. I don't think Clearwire has to be fast to every single market and raise billions to get there before LTE or die, I just think they have to prove that the technology really is awesome and that they can operate and scale the networks as promised. There is a huge market out there for a real alternative to the incumbents, and there still will be after LTE rolls out.
But of course, the faster the better.
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