Monday, July 25, 2005

Clearwire, a fixed-wireless provider

I have received a glossy junk mail from Clearwire ( A little research shows that Clearwire is a fixed-wireless provider with an unusual twist. Instead of competing with your home phone, 802.11b, CCTV camera, and huge number of other users of 2.4GHz band, they found little used piece of spectrum in 2.5GHz band.

The 2.5GHz band is already allocated, of course. There is no unallocated spectrum left. However, it is given largely to public TV broadcasters with community bend. In many locales, it is owned by churches, for example. Ownership of Clearwire quietly acquired spectrum across the country for a while, so now they are ready to start the data service.

The advantage of using 2.5GHz band is a larger coverage area from the single tower. However, even then, the are is not all that expansive. This is how their Tracy coverage area looks like (according to

The green circle is the current coverage (it seems that they got space at the tower in the Tracy Unified School District), the bunch of blue circles is the planned coverage. As we can see, the spot size is way larger than that of a typical 802.11 hotspot. It is, however, nothing like what WAC and CalDSL offer, using their directional antennas. The advantage is, of course, in the ease of installation. One of my neighbours had WAC service, with the station based at the bank building across the Tracy Bulevuard from ACE Hardware. This was quite a bit farther away than the radius of the Clearwire's hotspot. The solution was to have a directional anthenna at the chimney, which was in a line of sight with the top of the bank building. The Clearwire's kit, however, is supposed to work even in one-story houses like mine. In many cases it will even work from inside of the house. This is certain to reduce their installation costs.

All in all, Clearwire is great news for Tracy residents, even if I am outside of the present coverage. Comcast and SBC can stand a little competition, the bastards. On the downside, my friends at are bound to feel some squeeze. But such is life.


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