We know LTE is coming in the next few years and should be fully operational in 2012 or so (AT&T are very speedy with their rollouts) but we want some 4G wireless speed ASAP. Fortunately, if you live in the right part of the country, you can have it now.
What’s the technology? Well, effectively it brings wireless internet access to a wide area, making it a hugely viable solution for those parts of the world which don’t yet have a mobile or fixed line communication infrastructure. Originally developed by Intel and partners, the technology is called WiMax, and is coming to the Mac next month.
US WiMax provider Clearwire will next month finally introduce client software designed to get Macs onto its WiMax service. Clearwire’s modems, which offer built in WiFi (which helps you get onto the WiMax network when indoors) but have until now only shipped with Windows drivers.
This changes on August 17, when Clearwire will begin offering a Mac driver as a free download for customers, according to Mike Sievert, chief commercial officer. He announced the news as the company opened up its WiMax service in Las Vegas. That network covers 638 square miles of the city’s metropolitan area and reaches 1.7 million potential customers.
The Clear WiMax service delivers 3Mb per second (Mbps) to 6Mbps, with bursts as high as 10Mbps, according to Clearwire. It starts at $20 per month for home and $30 per month for mobile service, and combined plans are also available. A day pass costs $10.
What makes this potentially interesting for a wider church of Mac users is detailed within an FCC filing which emerged last year. Intel’s 5350 WiFi/WiMAX combo card fits into Mini PCI Express card slots – meaning Mac users could consider swapping out their WiFi card (as used in MacBooks and so on) for one of Intel’s new cards, new cards which combine WiFi and WiMax support.
If Mac drivers for WiMax debut next month, how soon will Apple users be tuning into WIMax? After all, in comparison with AT&T’s pretty punitive 3G iPhone to Mac tethering charges, where it’s available, WiMax offers better bandwidth at a competitive price.
Foreign travellers should benefit too, with deep and wide WiMax deployments emerging in Russia and many Eastern nations, including Taiwan. And India. And one day anywhere else were mature fixed line or mobile solutions aren’t yet fully set-up.