Fast forward to today, Clearwire has apparently halted all plans to expand WiMAX beyond its current coverage footprint. Clearwire, Sprint, and LightSquared are all putting together plans to roll out LTE in some wholesale concert, and WiMAX will remain in its current footprint, likely for years to come.
That leaves dozens of Clearwire deployments stuck in a painful limbo; LTE Advanced-ready hardware is likely a year out, at least, for many of these markets. And, worse, Clearwire has no intentions to upgrade these markets to WiMAX in the interim. Urban markets with existing WiMAX service will likely be the first to be upgraded. To help ease the pain, Clearwire to their credit has recently cut prices for service in these markets.
For users in these pre-WiMAX markets, service has fallen to a flat $32.00/month for 1.5 mbps and 2 mbps price tiers (for desktop and mobile cards, respectively). Unfortunately, the “mobile” ExpressCard and PCMCIA cards, as well as their desktop counterpart are the same dated cards from Motorola, which Clearwire was using four years ago.
With a lack of USB, or Mobile Hotspot options, many users are left toting desktop Wi-Fi adapters around to gain a connection which can be used with their modern-day devices. The demand for Clearwire service in most of these markets has dropped significantly as EV-DO and HSPA coverage has overlapped much of the legacy Clearwire footprint. With unlimited data plans and tethering, many users simply have no need for Clearwire’s services.
Despite Clearwire’s stated intentions to maintain, but not grow its store footprint, this lack of demand in legacy markets has resulted in the closure of most non-Clear 4G area retail stores.
Still, in many rural areas where Clearwire initially became popular, the offering is still a welcomed relief for users who have no access to DSL or other high-speed connections. 2 mbps is often multiple times faster than IDSN or low-speed ADSL connections, due to many still being long distances from a Central Office or DSL repeating station. Satellite Internet remains far more costly, and far more throttled than Clearwire’s own throttling endeavors.
Pre-WiMAX hardware is still sold at retail stores, by Best Buy, in Clearwire markets that have not been upgraded. The hardware is not sold online except via Clearwire.com, when entering in a zip code of a pre-WiMAX market.
Clearwire has declined to comment to PhoneNews.com officially, in regards to the estimated time of delivery for upgrading pre-WiMAX markets. The company did, however, confirm the price decrease to PhoneNews.com.
Article has been updated to clarify that Clearwire did offer an ExpressCard offering for pre-WiMAX markets. However, this variant is no longer publicized for sale, and can only be found by contacting Clearwire via telesales. Neither PCMCIA nor ExpressCard pre-WiMAX cards are compatible with Linux or Mac OS X.
Article has subsequently been updated with official comments from Clearwire Corporation.