Portland Gets WiMAX

No matter where you live, it never seems like the latest and greatest technology actually ever hits your neck of the woods before the rest of the modern world has had a chance to get sick of it. Well chalk one up for this technology junkie because Portland, Oregon officially has WiMAX!

For those of you who aren’t familiar, WiMAX is in very simple terms an extremely fast Internet connection alternative to other wire-based services such as Cable, DSL and Verizon FioS Service and wireless services provided at hotspots like what Starbucks offers through AT&T. You can expect speeds of up 6 mbps at home and 4 mbps on mobile accounts. Home plans start at $20 a month with mobile plans starting at $30 a month. Very competitive in price and stated speed to other offerings.

WiMAX achieves these stellar speeds by connecting subscribers over a WiMAX modem. For those who think less is more, most mobile users for instance, WiMAX chips are already starting to show up in new laptops such as the Asus Eee PC. I would suspect that many manufacturers will be watching closely how widely accepted WiMAX is in the Portland area to gauge whether or not the new chips are worth considering for new hardware.

One very positive note is the WiMAX technology is much more robust than Wi-Fi and provides wireless signals that stretch for miles rather than the typical few dozen feet. This is accomplished through the use of federally licensed radio spectrum. This ups the ante on technological advances and quality of service, but it also ups the ante financially for Clearwire, the company behind WiMAX.

Not only is the federally licensed radio spectrum expensive, Clearwire must come into the Portland area and make a big splash rather quickly. It has to gain a significant subscriber base to bring in much needed capital to offset rollout costs. Accomplishing this in the midst of an economic downtime, not to mention stiff competition from other already entrenched providers could prove to be a daunting task.

The day Clearwire officially launched WiMAX in Portland, I was ready to sign up. One problem: Macs aren’t supported. Sweet mother! I decided to go to Plan B.

I’d already been considering a Nokia N810 Internet Tablet to play with. I figured I’d just buy the WiMAX enabled version. New problem: Everyone was out of them. However I found someone wanting to sell one on Craigslist. I’m Golden! New problem came up: Clearwire was saying it wasn’t compatible with Portland’s WiMAX service.

I started searching around and found that Nokia, that same day, had pulled the Nokia N810 WiMAX version from production. Not only that, they were asking retailers to return unsold units (I don’t think anyone had any to return) to Nokia. An interesting development.

After all that, I think I’m just going to sit on the sidelines of this latest and greatest event and see how things go. If some compelling device comes down the pipe or Clearwire decides to support Mac users before it goes belly up, maybe I’ll pony up and try the mobile service.

All in all, my big chance to actually be in on one of the latest, greatest and coolest things has met a very disappointing end……for now.

2 thoughts on “Portland Gets WiMAX”

  1. I thought the Clear wimax system would be the beginning also, last week I ordered and was delivered a N810 wimax tablet, only to find out it doesn’t work on Clear’s Portland wimax. To me it is unbelievable that a starter company (Clear not Clearwire) that is try to establish a reputation and implement a newer technology, would not make there system compatible with a major manufacturer like Nokia. Especially when Nokia tooled up to manufacture a product for them. Clear’s website didn’t show the Nokia N810 wimax as one of the devices that you can purchase from them but they implied that it worked by placing a Nokia logo on the site. When I purchased this from Nokia I make sure to ask the chat person if it was compatible with the Portland area wimax. I don’t believe they intentionally sold me an incompatible item, so I hope the return will go smoothly. What I really want is this device to work. The sales people from Clear (a highly reputable group of individuals) checked with multiple tech support people from Clear and just last night one of the sales people called me back saying that the N810 wimax will not work on the Portland system. If anyone knows of anything different please reply to this before I send this back to Nokia.

  2. It truly is unbelievable. I knew Clear had dropped “wire” from their name, I just hadn’t embraced the change yet. 🙂

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