LAS VEGAS--On the eve of the CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show here, Clearwire has announced a portable Wi-Fi router that will use Wi-Fi to connect devices such as smartphones and cameras to its new 4G wireless network.
On Tuesday, network operator Clearwire, which is building a nationwide WiMax network, announced the Clear Spot, which is made by CradlePoint.
The compact, battery-powered device connects up to eight devices to the Clearwire WiMax network via Wi-Fi. It costs $139 and is expected to go on sale later this month.
Clearwire said the Clear Spot will work with most Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, including the iPhone, some BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile phones, the T-Mobile G1, and the Palm Pre. It will also work with Wi-Fi-enabled game and music devices, as well as Wi-Fi-ready digital and video cameras.
The purpose of the device is to extend and provide access to Clearwire's WiMax network. Intel has already started manufacturing WiMax chips. And some laptops have the technology embedded in them.
Eventually, other consumer electronics devices will also get WiMax connectivity. But until then, there aren't many devices that can connect to the Clearwire network. By contrast, there are millions of devices already on the market that have Wi-Fi connectivity. The Clear Spot router allows these Wi-Fi devices to access the Clearwire WiMax network.
"While many (consumer electronics) devices will eventually include embedded WiMax technology, our customers can now easily use their existing Wi-Fi-enabled phones, cameras, game systems, or laptops in compelling new ways," Scott Richardson, chief strategy officer for Clearwire, said in a statement.
Clearwire currently offers WiMax service in Baltimore and Portland, Ore. The company has plans to add service in another eight cities in 2009, and it expects that by the end of 2010, it will be able to offer its WiMax service to 120 million users. The service is available for $10 a day, or consumers can sign up for a monthly service starting at $30.
Clearwire isn't the only service provider tapping into the power of Wi-Fi to reach more consumer devices. Verizon Wireless is also reportedly getting ready to launch a new device known as the MiFi 2200, which is made by Novatel. This device also creates a personal Wi-Fi hot spot that uses Verizon's 3G wireless network to connect to the Internet.
Verizon isn't commenting on the new device. But Novatel is showing off the device here at CTIA.