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May 21, 2007

Clearwire lifts hood on WiMax trial

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:57 AM

Kirkland-based Clearwire said today it has successfully completed the first phase of one of the country's first mobile WiMAX field trials.

Mobile WiMax is the standardized version of wireless broadband that allows a user to roam or hand off from one cell site to another. The previous version of WiMax was called fixed because it had to be used in a stationary spot.

Clearwire has been conducting a field trail in Hilsboro, Ore., with Intel and Motorola. The equipment is based on the IEEE 802.16e standard and works on Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum.

The first phase of the field trial focused on coverage, capacity and speed associated with the air interface. Previously, Intel said it was going to open up the trial to employees in the area to get an idea of how it worked.

There aren't a lot of other companies pushing to roll out mobile WiMax quickly. Sprint Nextel, which also has ambitions to build a nationwide network, said it will start to launch markets later this year, starting in Chicago. It is critical for the trials to work since so many companies are backing the technology, which is still unproved.

Clearwire said today the first phase of the Hillsboro trial covered 15 square miles using a mobile WiMAX laptop card, the first to be based on WiMAX. Individuals testing the card received true broadband connections with multi-megabit speeds. The next phase of the trial is designed expand to cover 145 square miles and a greater number of users and devices on the network.

"The successful completion of the first phase of our mobile WiMAX trial is a significant milestone in our efforts to commercially deploy true mobile broadband services in the U.S.," said Scott Richardson, Clearwire chief strategy officer. "By demonstrating initial performance consistent with the WiMAX industry standards, we are making great progress in our ability to evolve our networks to take advantage of the benefits of a standards-based technology for future Clearwire subscribers.

Intel said the trial was also important because it means its mobile WiMax chipset is on pace to launch next year.

"With the completion of the first phase of our field trial we are on track to deliver the first integrated mobile WiMAX solution with next-generation Intel Centrino processor technology in 2008," said Sriram Viswanathan, an Intel vice president and general manager of the WiMAX Program Office. "We look forward to the next phase of our field trial that will include more people, wider coverage and greater mobility to ultimately help deliver the true promise of WiMAX."

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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