WiMAX comes to Las Vegas

Las Vegas is only one of three cities in the U.S. that now has WiMAX, the other two being Atlanta and Portland. WiMAX is a technical standard that allows for wireless coverage over a very large area. Think of WiMAX as similar to the wireless you use to access the Internet in your home or coffee shop... except it covers the entire Las Vegas valley. With WiMAX, you'll be able to connect your laptop (or any other device) wirelessly to the Internet anywhere in the city.

This type of wireless coverage has been available for some time with air cards sold by cell phone carriers, but WiMAX download speeds are much faster. The maximum download speed with my Verizon air card is about 1.5Mbps. WiMAX offers download speeds up to 6Mbps. That's four times faster!

With WiMAX, you can connect a single device (like a laptop) to the Internet using a USB device, or connect an entire network to the Internet with a WiMAX modem.

Clear is the company responsible for bringing WiMAX to Las Vegas. They plan on delivering WiMAX to 80 cities by the end of 2010. WiMAX connectivity costs as little as $20 per month, and is $40 per month and up for higher speeds. My Verizon card with a much slower download speed costs $60 per month.

The disadvantage of WiMAX is the upload speed is significantly slower than the download speed. Clear is marketing their service to mobile and residential users, so business users may find customer service lacking. And if you're a mobile user, you can only use WiMAX in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Portland. This summer Clear says they'll release new equipment that will overcome this limitation by falling back to the cell phone carrier network when you're outside of the WiMAX area.

Eventually, the whole country (and world) will be enveloped in a wireless bubble. No matter what happens with Clear or WiMAX, there's no doubt WiMAX will raise our expectations with regard to high speed Internet access. Watch for Clear's massive advertising campaign that launches this month.

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