Yesterday Clearwire Communications rolled out its Clear WiMAX offering in Las Vegas to serve an area with 1.7 million residents across 638 square miles. This deployment follows Baltimore, MD; Portland, OR; and Atlanta.

Clear WiMAX is Clearwire’s 4G mobile Internet offering designed to give Internet access anywhere in the coverage area, rather than having to seek out WiFi hotspots. The 4G service also boosts speeds to 3-6 Mbps with bursts exceeding 10 Mbps. (For a wireless update click here.)

Clearwire also announced that, starting August 1, it will offer the Clear 4G+ mobile USB, a dual-mode 4G/3G modem, using Sprint’s nationwide 3G network, for customers who travel outside of Clear’s coverage areas.

In Las Vegas, the Clear network utilizes an area-wide WiMAX radio system from Motorola. The Las Vegas area is served by more than 300 cell sites utilizing Motorola’s WAP 400 Diversity Access Point product, which uses tower top power amplifiers linked to fiber optic cable, with the base control unit housed in a small outdoor cabinet at the bottom of the tower.

Ciena has provided another infrastructure component to Clearwire’s WiMAX deployments to date. Ciena’s carrier Ethernet service delivery products, including its LE-311v service delivery switches and CN 5305 service aggregation switches, are being used for the 4G backhaul in Las Vegas.

"The traditional backhaul based on T-1s is getting too expensive," said Taylor Salman, director of business solutions with Ciena. "The natural migration is to go with Ethernet."

Salman said the Ciena Ethernet allows operators to build paths through the network and put specific traffic through specific paths and to create backup paths in case of failure. "It allows them to do traffic engineering," said Salman.

"Clearwire is deploying a lot of microwave to the end-towers," added Salman. "It’s not always cost effective to pull fiber, and copper doesn’t give enough bandwidth. The fall-back solution is microware. Our switches don’t care if it’s microwave or fiber."

(For more on Ethernet and cell backhaul, click here.)

Clearwire plans to launch Clear in additional markets in 2009, including Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia and Seattle.

  —Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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