LAS VEGAS—Expectations are high for a 3G/4G modem to come to market this summer. In the meantime, how about combining Wi-Fi and WiMAX?
That’s what Clearwire Communications is doing with a new accessory that enables standard Wi-Fi products to connect to the Internet at broadband speeds via its Clear mobile WiMAX service. But buyer beware: The Clear mobile WiMAX service currently is available only in Portland, Ore., so consumers in other cities are out of luck until Clearwire launches in more metro areas later this year.
The company says the Clear Spot creates a personal Wi-Fi hot spot that travels with consumers anywhere they happen to be within the Clear service area. Manufactured by CradlePoint, the Clear Spot device is a portable, battery-powered router that seamlessly connects up to eight Wi-Fi devices to the Internet via Clear’s mobile WiMAX network.
The Clear Spot router will be available in early April for $139 at Clear stores and authorized dealers or online.
To use the service, customers insert their Clear USB Modem, which sells for $49, into the router, and a Wi-Fi hot spot is created allowing any Wi-Fi-enabled consumer electronic or PC device to connect to the WiMAX network. It’s compatible with any existing, off-the-shelf Wi-Fi device.
That means Apple iPhone 3G users can use the service, as well as select BlackBerry or Windows Mobile phones, the G1 and the upcoming Palm Pre. Users of those devices can connect to the Internet at speeds faster than their phones do with embedded 3G technology.
As for that 3G/4G modem, Clearwire has said it expects to roll one of those out this summer.