LAS VEGAS--Wireless operator Clearwire is offering application developers in Silicon Valley free access to its 4G wireless network in the hopes that they will come up with cool applications for the new service.
Ben Wolff, co-chairman of the company, announced the new WiMax Innovation Network during a speech at the CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show here on Thursday.
The network will cover more than 20 square miles in the heart of Silicon Valley and will bring 4G wireless service to campuses of big technology companies, such as Google and Intel. Service is expected to be available to developers by late summer of this year. The company is offering the service free to developers for a year, but developers will have to pay $49.99 to buy a WiMax USB modem. To qualify, developers must register for Clearwire's developer program and describe the products or business ideas they wish to pursue.
"This is not a lab in some tall building," Wolff said during his speech. "This is a 20-square-mile sandbox that will give people the ability to really innovate."
Wolff added that the company decided to open the network up to developers because executives recognize the need for new applications to drive demand for its service.
"We know we need killer applications for our network," he said. "And we know we aren't the folks to build the best applications. That's not our core competency. So we are encouraging third parties to take advantage of our network."
Clearwire is building a nationwide wireless broadband network using a technology called WiMax. Late last year, it merged its wireless assets with spectrum from Sprint Nextel. And it has received billions of dollars in investment from Google, Intel, Comcast, and Time Warner.
The company currently offers service in two cities: Baltimore and Portland, Ore. And it's announced 10 more markets for later this year. By the end of 2010, the company plans to have service in over 80 markets with access to more than 120 million.