Sure, Clearwire has Baltimore and Portland, but Atlanta eclipses those: The Clear network in Atlanta spans 1,200 sq mi and passes 3m people. Given the hideous commute and highway backups, I can see a ubiquitous network that's cheaper than and faster than 3G competitors being a windshield warrior and mobile work team must-have. Clearwire maintains that 4 to 6 Mbps downstream is typical, with an over 15 Mbps burst rate.
Clearwire pairs the Atlanta announcement with a laundry list of gear customers can use to connect, which has increased considerably in the last few months.
Wireless networks are always a chicken-and-egg problem. Wi-Fi insinuated itself into nearly every mobile device because there was no network lock in. You could install one hot spot and have one adapter and have all the freedom you needed to cut the cord. Wi-Fi became cheap to include in mobile devices years ago, and required no carrier or regulator relationship.
Cellular 3G and 4G networks have a harder row to hoe because every adapter will have both high cost and provider lock in. 3G cell modems are starting to become a standard feature on some netbooks and laptops, although it's a financial risk to the makers of these computers, as the underlying cost of mobile broadband modems remains high. If the user never activates the modem, or cancels within a short period, the buyer isn't bearing the full cost of that adapter based on the current model. (It's not clear whether carriers and/or modem makers absorb some of this risk to ship more adapters and gain more customers, too.)
For Clearwire, it's a bit different, because Motorola and Samsung are both major investors and principle equipment manufacturers. This can be awkward, because the two makers can't offer gear to Clearwire at cost, but neither do they have a motivation to extract every last dollar.
Clearwire notes in this release how many WiMax adapter are now available, and in what variety. For laptops, there's a $60 (or $5/mo) USB modem. This takes care of legacy laptops and even desktop computers. USB modems for 3G networks have multiplied and added features (such as having a microSD slot) because the ability to move the modem among multiple computers is desirable.
For home users, there's the Clear Residential Modem, which is $80 or $5/mo; voice calling requires an additional $15 adapter and a $25/mo calling plan (competitive with Vonage, and from half to one-third less than Comcast's).
Apparently, this is the soft launch of Clearwire's Clear Spot, a Wi-Fi/WiMax gateway ($140), which is battery powered and requires a Clear USB modem. As I previously noted ("Clearwire Offers CradlePoint WiMax/Wi-Fi Hotspot," 31-March-2009), this is a Clearwire-enabled version of a product that CradlePoint has offered for some time. On the laptop side, Clearwire lists a variety of Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba notebooks and netbooks. A Panasonic Toughbook is coming later this year.
An anticipated 3G/4G broadband modem is due "this summer," which will combine Sprint 3G with Clearwire WiMax, and start allowing business customers in Clear coverage areas to upgrade to have the benefit of a faster network at home and roaming while away, or in weak WiMax coverage areas.