Will a dual-mode phone do it for Clear? Clearwire is planning to introduce by summer a dual-mode phone that will work on both its WiMAX network and on its parent Sprint’s 3G network.
That Clearwire plans to introduce such a phone is well-known, but the timing has been in question. The report that Clearwire will debut a dual-mode phone in the summer was from Forbes.
Prior to its initial rollout of commercial WiMAX service just over a year ago, Clearwire had referred to such a phone, but none has yet to materialize.
At the time, Nokia had signaled that it might make such a phone, but then it decided against.
HTC has since introduced one of the first dual-mode mobile devices that works on both WiMAX (4G) and 3G networks, but the 3G technology it chose to integrate was GSM, not the CDMA that Sprint’s (and Verizon’s) network is based on.
Rumors about the phone for the Clear network are specific: It is said it will be a touchscreen phone running Google’s Android operating system and designed by HTC.
Pundits seem to be of two minds about the necessity for Clearwire of introducing such a device. On the one hand, some analysts believe that with WiMAX covering a small fraction of potential users thus far, it might be too early to justify the introduction. The flip side of the argument is Clear might become more popular if the company and its partners – including Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner Cable – could offer mobile phone service in the same package with wireless data access.
Clearwire is set to roll out WiMAX in Houston in the next few weeks, with Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., coming by the end of the year.
Forbes quoted Paget Alves, Sprint’s president of business markets, saying that businesses and government agencies – not just consumers – will likely adopt Sprint’s 4G phone when it debuts.