updated 02:10 pm EST, Wed November 5, 2008
Sprint Clearwire Approved
The FCC late yesterday approved Sprint's deal with Clearwire for a national WiMAX network. The deal will allow the two to spread an effectively unified 4G wireless Internet service across the US that should cover as many as 140 million users by the end of 2010. FCC Commissioners, including Chairman Kevin Martin, describe the approval in historic terms and suggest it will create a genuine new competitor for high-speed Internet access in the US.
"This item is better news [than other deals] because it creates a new competitor in the broadband market," Commissioner Michael Copps says.
The decision comes on the heels of approval for use of white space frequencies for unlicensed data access and opposition from companies with vested interests in shutting down open competition. While companies such as Google have promoted the spread of Clearwire, Xohm and other WiMAX services for their emphasis on open use of hardware and software, AT&T has accused Sprint and Clearwire of trying to skirt around rules but has been counter-charged by critics of stalling any possible now competitor to its own 3G and 4G services.
Creating a wider national WiMAX network will also assist companies such as Intel, which played a large role in the creation of WiMAX and has pressed for the integration of WiMAX into notebooks through its own Centrino 2 mobile platform.