Image via CrunchBase
The second most frequent search on this blog is for information about “Fourth Generation” or 4G cellular service and when it will come to Spokane.
T-Mobile began offering in mid-2010 a faster data service they call 4G – its faster than 3G but still slower than true 4G except when its faster (confused?) in about half of Spokane and half of Spokane Valley. Their web site has a detailed coverage map that estimates availability down to the street level. (Competitors say true 4G is is faster than T-Mobile’s interim 4G but its easy to make that claim when they haven’t built 4G networks yet …) A chart here illustrates that all the carriers are misrepresenting 4G – in fact, none of them are building 4G networks but all are building faster networks.
Sprint is the other company that has put 4G in much of Washington and has done so with their Clearwire (now just Clear) subsidiary. In 2008, Sprint bought a majority of the Clearwire company which, like Sprint, was working to deploy “WiMAX” 4G wireless data services. Sprint obtained investment money from Comcast, Time Warner, Intel, Google and others.
In Eastern Washington, Sprint rolled out their WiMAX 4G network in Ellensburg, Yakima, Zilah, Sunnyside, the Tri-Cities and further east. Spokane is not currently listed on their “Future CLEAR City” map and the company has announced it will “freeze” expansion of its network due to their financial situation. (Update: They will be getting new funding and will eventually resume building the network.)
For more information, see CLEAR | 4G WiMAX Internet Coverage Map with Service Area.
Because of the Comcast investment, those who have Comcast cable TV and who live in the Sprint 4G areas can now receive combined cable modem and wireless 4G data service for about the same price as standard cable or DSL modem service alone. The Comcast service requires the Clearwire 4G service, which is not available in Spokane.
Other cellular providers such as AT&T and Verizon are rolling out 4G services. They have not announced specific dates of 4G service in Spokane – but we do know that Verizon plans to have service rolled out to all of their service areas by 2013. AT&T starts in mid-2011 and says it will take “several years to build out 4G”. A map of the initial Verizon 4G service area is here.
Bottom line: T-Mobile has a pretty good 3G+ system they call 4G running now in about half of Spokane and half of Spokane Valley. Sprint’s CLEARwire solution is not available in Spokane and has announced a freeze in further network construction. Verizon and AT&T are rolling out service and the best we can say is that Verizon expects to complete their network roll out by 2013. AT&T plans to begin implementing their 4G network – somewhere – starting in the summer of 2011. Besides T-Mobile’s “4G”, Spokane should be online with a 4G network sometime from 2011 to 2013.
Update: Please see this newer post. Verizon now says they hope to have their 4G in some parts of Spokane in 2011.
Tomorrow: Creativity, Innovation and Infrastructure