For all the talk of the impending irrelevance of WiMax, it sure is making a big splash these days in some of the nation's biggest markets. The recent article in the New York Times trumpeting the arrival of WiMax in NYC, LA, and San Francisco via Clearwire may have been a boon for the 4G brand. Even with Verizon's impending LTE rollout, there is a groundswell of WiMax activity occurring as the number of cities covered by Clearwire's 4G network jumps to 57.
On top of the advancement of their mobile broadband network across the American expanse, Clear is seeing increased interest from one of the largest names in the media world. Time Warner has announced that they'll be tapping into WiMax 4G, using Clearwire's technology, in order to bring faster Internet to NYC. The cable giant's service will give customers access to nationwide 3G service and 4G coverage in the ever-growing list of cities where Clearwire's network exists, so long as users subscribe to another of the company's cable services.
The partnership has its pros and cons for Clearwire. One of the original selling points for their own brand of 4G WiMax was that it offered customers a faster alternative to those who felt there was little available alternative to the vertically integrated services offered by their own cable providers. I know, as a Time Warner customer, I've often been dissatisfied with the frequent internet speed issues that plague my apartment. By allowing Time Warner to get in on their WiMax efforts, they, in effect, give users access to the same technology and the ability to roam with it without the inconvenience of dealing with multiple providers. Thus, the possibility of needing to pay more than one bill is eliminated. Sure, Clear's mobile internet service has a different and somewhat more convenient price point for those hard up for cash, but when one-stop shopping is the name of the game, you'd be surprised how little customers might take that into consideration. Not to roll over and die on the issue of vertical integration by corporate behemoths, but sometimes it's just easier to get all your stuff from one place. Does the name Wal-mart ring a bell?
On the flipside, the diversification of Clearwire's efforts to bring their WiMax technology to the masses via cable, a tad before Verizon brings LTE to the market, could prove a masterstroke in terms of establishing a foothold for that standard of 4G in the United States. So will the increased WiMax activity sink Clearwire or will it help them swim? Time will tell.