Major Cities Will Get Clearwire 4G with Rivals Close Behind

Clearwire said Monday it intends to launch 4G service in New York City on Nov. 1, in San Francisco on Dec. 1, and in Los Angeles in late December. Partners Sprint Nextel (all three markets), Time Warner Cable (New York City), and Comcast (San Francisco) will also offer 4G services under their own names.

AT&T has been plagued by data-congestion problems in New York City and San Francisco, so Clearwire has an opportunity to make inroads in both markets at its rival’s expense. Clearwire also has high hopes for its new iSpot device — a mobile hot spot that offers dedicated support for up to eight Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices at the same time.

“We think customers will be drawn to [the iSpot’s] initial pricing plan of $25 for unlimited data, with no contract required,” Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow told investors last August.

Unlimited 4G Usage

Clearwire also recently introduced a pay-as-you-go service called Rover that may appeal to AT&T data subscribers, especially now that the 3G wireless carrier has switched to metered data plans. Rover’s 4G modem prices range between $99 and $149, while the service itself costs $5 per day, $20 per week, or $50 per month for unlimited 4G Internet usage.

According to IDC analyst Carrie MacGillvray, pay-as-you-go data provides an option for consumers to experiment with the power of mobile broadband without a two-year commitment. “The opportunity for pay-as-you-go mobile broadband should not be underestimated,” MacGillvray said.

Still, AT&T’s network problems may be more a gift to Verizon Wireless than anyone else — especially since Verizon already plans to sell the iPad and is widely expected to sell a CDMA version of the iPhone in 2011, noted Lisa Pierce, an independent wireless analyst at the Strategic Networks Group.

“We all know how much Apple has helped…

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