Fastest 4G In The West: Portland Gets WiMax

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"Today is a historic day for the evolution of mobile computing and communications services in Portland and the U.S.," said Clearwire CEO Benjamin G. Wolff in a statement. "Clearwire is reinventing wireless by delivering an unmatched combination of Internet speed and mobility."

Portland's WiMax net casts on a 700-square-mile area that serves about 1.7 million people. According to Clearwire, which represents the recently combined 4G wireless businesses of Clearwire and Sprint-Nextel, residence-based 4G plans in Portland start at $20 a month and mobile plans start at $30 a month.

For residences, Kirkland, Wash.-based Clearwire is offering a wireless high-speed modem, leasable from Motorola for $4.99 a month. For mobile users, the official Clear USB modem is also from Motorola and costs $49.99. Visitors or anyone else can buy a day's worth of Portland's WiMax service for $10.

Sprint-Nextel and Clearwire closed a $14.5 billion merger deal on Dec. 1 to combine their respective 4G wireless businesses. That deal included $3.2 billion from a list of other investors comprising Comcast, Intel, Google, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

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"WiMAX is a new wireless technology that raises the bar on a truly mobile and affordable Internet experience for consumers," said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Intel, in a statement. "Intel, along with Clearwire and its partners, are proud to bring U.S. customers a next-generation world-leading broadband solution that redefines how, when and where consumers interact with the Internet."

Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and others have all planned Intel Centrino 2-powered notebooks with embedded WiMax for 2009.

Baltimore's WiMax, which currently operates under Sprint and Clearwire's XOHM brand, will be rebranded as Clear in the next few months, according to the company.

Clearwire operates prestandard WiMax networks in 46 cities and towns across 16 states. The company has not seen other major WiMax rollouts come to fruition; it had previously suggested Washington, D.C., and Chicago would both be live by the end of 2008.