Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Chicken Soup Debate

By Mike Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire

Yesterday Verizon announced it will officially launch its 4G service on December 5th, and as you’ve likely noticed, the marketing muscle of both Verizon and T-Mobile has suddenly become squarely focused on our space. This has prompted many in the industry to start a debate over the definition of “4G”.

Well, as the pioneer in 4G and developer of the first 4G network in the country, we have been doing this for a while now and we think we have a pretty good idea of what 4G is. For us, the definition is quite simple: 4G is next generation. It’s a big leap over 3G, offering you speed and capacity that is several times greater, giving you the ability to have much more than just a thin layer of 3G Internet for checking sports scores and doing email. With 4G, people can experience the magic of true broadband, and have digital lifestyle options that were never available before.

We think “next generation” equals three things – Speed, Capacity, and Value. To be next generation, you have to be fast, and we are. But it also means you have to have higher capacity to be able to handle the tons of megabytes of data that we know you all want. There also has to be a breakthrough in cost so that everyone can have a great value.

The debate going on about who is or isn’t 4G is unimportant because whether it’s called 3G, 4G, WiMAX, LTE, or HSPA+…. all that matters, in the end, is getting a great price on a fast connection with a ton of included usage - a combination that requires the kind of network and capacity that only Clearwire has.

Having a powerful, portable device that’s with you all the time, connecting you without compromise, is also high on that list. The number of devices available is another area to consider when choosing a 4G service. Today our network supports the first (and only) 4G smartphones on the market. And we have an ecosystem of nearly 70 devices to connect you to the power of 4G.

In this increasingly noisy market, the mistake anyone can make is only looking at speed when the real differentiator in 4G is capacity. Because our network has so much spectrum (which translates into capacity) we can offer unlimited usage at a good price. For example, take a CLEAR customer using 20GB a month for $45. With Verizon and its usage caps on the 10GB plan, the same person could be paying $180 a month. Our advice to Verizon customers? Watch the clock every minute and count every megabyte. Our unlimited plans are our most popular plans, because no one wants to feel like they are on the clock.

What do we really think of all of this new competition? We welcome it! When you are as well positioned in a market as we are, you want that market to grow. The more people who hear about mobile broadband, the bigger the market, and the more opportunity for Clearwire to differentiate ourselves and grow.

So remember, when it comes to mobile broadband, speed is important, but capacity is king. And in this area, Clearwire is unrivaled.

Click here to view a comparison table of CLEAR 4G WiMAX and Verizon LTE.