NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The much-hyped, speedy 4G wireless Internet service became more of a reality Monday when Sprint (S) and Clearwire (CLWR) announced that the "Clear" WiMax broadband network launched in New York City and parts of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida.
Previously, the service was available only in limited areas; Clearwire has said that its 4G service would be available in at least 61 locations by the end of the year, including cities in upstate New York, Northern California and Oregon.
Clearwire says that 4G, which boasts speeds of 3 to 6 megabits per second, allows customers to access the internet at speeds four times faster than today's 3G network used by most providers. Major telcos like Sprint and its top two competitors, AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), talk a lot about the coming of 4G for mobile devices, but Sprint is the first to officially launch a 4G network.
Sprint's 4G-enabled smartphones, the HTC EVO and Samsung Epic, are the only smartphones equipped to use the network; Sprint is hoping that its trailblazer status in 4G will help it win over customers from Verizon and AT&T, who have said their own 4G networks will launch at the end of the year and sometime next year, respectively.In a press release, Clearwire said that 4G pricing starts at $35 a month for home Internet usage and $45 for plans involving 4G phones and 4G-equipped laptops and netbooks. It also said that its 4G usage plans do not require long-term service contracts. "The arrival of Clear 4G in New York is a tremendous milestone for our company," said David Barnette, vice president of sales for Clear, in the press release. In late afternoon trading, Sprint shares were slightly rising, gaining 0.03 cents to $4.16, while Clearwire's were down 0.85% to $7.03. Clearwire is expected to issue its third-quarter earnings report Thursday after market close.
--Written by Maggie Overfelt in New York.
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