Comcast Goes Wide With 3G-Only, As Clearwire Eyes More 4G Markets

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Wireless broadband provider Clearwire announced plans to launch WiMax service in 19 additional cities this summer while Comcast, which has invested in Clearwire, has determined that not all of its subscribers want to spring for the 4G option.

Clearwire plans WiMax service launches this summer in the previously announced markets of Kansas City, Kans.; St. Louis; Salt Lake City, and the core area of Washington, D.C. Moreover, it announced it will target the following new markets of Nashville, Tenn.; Daytona, Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y.; Merced, Modesto, Stockton, and Visalia, Calif.; Wilmington, Delaware; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Eugene, Ore.; and Yakima and Tri-Cities, Wash.

Clearwire, which is majority-owned by Sprint Nextel with investments from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Intel and Google, currently offers WiMax service in 32 markets.

Meanwhile, Comcast announced the 3G-only strategy in Boston area earlier this week and said it will also offer the the service in the Portland, Philadelphia, Seattle and Houston DMAs.  The 3G service is delivered via Sprint Nextel's nationwide network and delivers a top downlink speed of 1.5 Mbps.

"Consumers want mobile Internet access on-the-go and we are continuing to extend the variety of our service offers so that consumers can choose plans that work best for their needs," Tom Nagel, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of wireless services, said in a statement.

The High-Speed 2go 3G wireless option is available as an add-on to Comcast Xfinity bundles starting at $40 per month, whereas the dual 3G/4G service is an additional $55 per month.

According to Clearwire, more than one-third of its wholesale subscribers reside outside of its currently launched WiMax markets have opted for dual-mode 3G/4G devices.

Clearwire on Wednesday also announced results for the first quarter of 2010. The company ended the period with 971,000 total subscribers consisting of 814,000 retail subscribers and 157,000 wholesale subscribers through Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. During the first quarter of 2010 Clearwire added 283,000 net new subscriber additions including 172,000 retail additions and 111,000 wholesale additions.

Clearwire has projected that it will more than double its subscriber rolls in 2010 to end the reach with 2 million.