Video: Austin WiMAX Launch Event

Verizon Test

WiMAX Test

Sprint (s S) held a happy hour last night to show off the WiMAX launch in here Austin, Texas, so I wandered over for some BBQ and broadband. I want to love WiMAX, but I can’t get excited about the promise of upload speeds of some 400 kilobits per second, which are only a wee bit more than what my Verizon (s vz) 3G connection delivers. However, on the download side things are decent for a wired network and awesome for a wireless one. Read More about Video: Austin WiMAX Launch Event

WiMAX Hits Austin and San Antonio Today

[qi:gigaom_icon_WiMax] Sprint (s S) announced WiMAX service today in San Antonio and my hometown of Austin, Texas, so this is just to tell y’all I’m playing with a modem and will be letting folks know how it all works, once I activate the darn thing. Currently Sprint doesn’t support a USB modem for Macs (but I’m assured that one is coming, likely in time for the holidays), which means I need a PC to activate my modem on. But then I can use a personal hotspot product that converts the WiMAX signal to Wi-Fi to test it out on my MacBook (and iPod Touch)! So send me your questions, concerns and anything else WiMAX-related, and I’ll try to address them or get them answered. Personally, I want to see if this is something I could replace my wired connection with, or if it’s really just what I’d use instead of my 3G MiFi while I wait for LTE.

The Clear Dilemma

clearwireClearwire, (s clwr) as expected, said today that it’s managed to cajole $1.56 billion out of most of its previous investors to continue its buildout of the Clear WiMAX network. However, those doubling down on WiMAX (see chart) as the ideal fourth-generation wireless technology are likely throwing good money after bad. Even if we ignore the incredible writedowns these companies have had to make related to their first bet on Clearwire and WiMAX, the potential for return on the latest investment is still low. Why? Because Clearwire’s Clear service is stuck between a rock and hard place. Read More about The Clear Dilemma

With Wireless Data, Smaller Carriers Must Mind the Gap

The floundering economy hasn’t kept consumers from spending on mobile data, according to the latest quarterly report on the wireless industry from Chetan Sharma, one of our GigaOM Pro analysts. U.S. data service revenues grew 27 percent year-over-year in the third quarter, Sharma reported, with Verizon Wireless (s vz) and AT&T (s t) accounting for 80 percent of the rise, underscoring what I wrote last week about how the rich carriers are getting richer. Given the investment needed to build out new networks, and the incredible growth in data, both the smaller carriers and U.S. regulators should mind the growing gap between those that are raking in the wireless data dough and those that are not. Read More about With Wireless Data, Smaller Carriers Must Mind the Gap

Sprint’s First Direct Netbook Deal is a Dell Mini 10 with XP

dell-mini-10Sprint today joins the ranks of direct netbook sales from a wireless carrier. Starting in the Minneapolis Twin Cities area, Sprint stores offer the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 with integrated wireless broadband. As with any subsidized wireless device, customers need to commit to a two-year data plan. The $59.99 monthly charge for 5 GB of throughput adds up to over $1,440 over the life of the contract. To get customers on that contract, it looks like Sprint is willing to subsidize the netbook for $250. That’s actually less than the $388 that Sprint was subsidizing on an Compaq netbook through Best Buy earlier this year — that netbook was yours for a mere $0.99!
I checked the specs of their offering and unless I’m reading them incorrectly, this is the  Mini 10 Ultimate that Dell sells directly for $449. Sprint says you can have one of these Dell Mini 10 netbooks for $199 after a $100 mail in rebate, which shows the subsidized difference. The netbook doesn’t come with Microsoft Windows 7, so you’ll either have to like XP SP3 or purchase an upgrade license for Microsoft’s latest and greatest — there goes some of that $100 rebate! If you find this deal appealing, be sure to check the complete specifications at your Sprint store against the Dell direct offerings. I see that Dell offers GPS and integrated TV tuner options to this model, but there’s no mention of such options by Sprint. All that’s listed for specifications is the 1.33 GHz Z520 Atom / GMA 500, 160 GB hard drive, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. I’d double-check if Sprint is providing the 24 Whr battery or the 56 Whr power pack for sure.

Sprint Flips the WiMAX Switch in Chicago

[qi:gigaom_icon_WiMax] Sprint (s s) continued to move ahead with its WiMAX rollout, flipping the switch in Chicago, three markets in Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin), and several in North Carolina. The move is in line with Sprint’s previously announced 4G rollout plans with Clearwire (s clwr) and Comcast (s cmcsa) and follows last week’s launch of Clearwire service in Philadelphia. Look for Sprint to continue following in the footsteps of Clearwire and Comcast in the next few months as it steps up its WiMAX deployment nationwide.

Did Sprint Bet On the Wrong Smartphone?

Sprint LogoAs lovely as the Pre (s palm) is, it’s no iPhone (s aapl), as Sprint’s (s S) third-quarter loss and the departure of 545,000 total subscribers proves. The nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, despite having an exclusive on the Pre, saw an exodus of 801,000 contract-holding customers in the latest three-month period, but offset that by adding 666,000 pre-paid subscribers. It now has a total of 48.3 million subscribers. Sprint is enlarging its prepaid business with an acquisition and competitive rate plans as a way to ensure that contract customers who leave for pre-paid plans still have a place in the Sprint family, but so far its bet on the Pre and pre-paid hasn’t pushed it back into the black.

Docs Want Their Own Airwaves and Other Gems From the FCC Wireless Probe

[qi:061] So far this week, more than 15 organizations have filed their comments addressing the Federal Communications Commission inquiry about competition and innovation in the wireless industry, and they’re pretty much what one would expect. The major wireless carriers go to great lengths to tout their competitiveness and overall innovation, with Sprint (s S) dissenting a bit and calling for special access reform so it doesn’t have to pay as much to AT&T (s T) and Verizon (s vz) for backhaul. Read More about Docs Want Their Own Airwaves and Other Gems From the FCC Wireless Probe

Reed Hastings Returns to NewTeevee Live

Last year it was clear Netflix (s NFLX) would play a big role in online video. Now, there isn’t any doubt. The DVD service, which weathered the economic storms better than just about every tech company this year, has proved it’s adapting to digital better than just about every other entertainment company. And so Reed Hastings, one of the highlights of last year’s NewTeeVee Live (see his full talk embedded below), is going to return to the stage this year to give us an update in conversation with our GigaOM founder Om Malik. You’d do well to trust Hastings’ tea-leave readings — he does tend to be right.

The third-annual NewTeeVee Live will be held on Nov. 12 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. Buy your ticket today!

What Is It About e-Readers?

If I were to bet on a device that would benefit most from wireless access, it wouldn’t be a digital book reader, not in a nation where roughly half the people don’t read novels. A personal navigation device, an MP3 player on which one can download songs, even a handheld gaming unit all seem to be more popular with consumers — and offer better opportunities to show off wireless access. So why the focus on e-readers?