By Jane Wells, CNBC Correspondent
Consumer Reports says you may need a little duct tape on your iPhone 4 to guard against dropped calls. Sound like a step backward? What about a cellphone signal that may fail in the middle of a large building? Some fear that is the problem with WiMAX, a form of mobile WiFi being used in 4G phones, like Sprint's HTC Evo. The company has sold 300,000 of the phones with their large screens, two cameras and ability to play Flash videos. The reviews rave that the Evo's internet speeds are lightning fast compared to 3G phones. But not everywhere. Sprint ( S) is using Clearwire's ( CLWR) WiMAX technology, and reviewers like David Pogue point out the limitations. The signal can be "spottier than a kennel of Dalmatians", he writes. There are apparently enough unhappy customers that someone started a Web site called Clearwire Sucks. Trent Cannon worked for Clearwire as it started up in Houston, but he left the company over what he says were concerns about the technology's viability. "The signal has tremendous difficulty passing through things like walls," he says. "WiMax won't work inside large structures like high rises, malls and stadiums. You have a major presentation on the 4th floor of a building downtown and you need wireless internet to complete your demonstration. Hopefully, the conference room is near a window or you will need Robin Williams' improvisation skills." Cannon believes WiMAX will eventually give way to a competitive technology known as LTE, which Verizon ( VZ) and AT&T ( T) will use in their 4G rollouts. Sprint and Clearwire have the option of eventually switching to LTE, though Clearwire says it continues to move forward with building out its WiMAX network, having recently raised almost $300 million.
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