PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Sprint Nextel and partner Clearwire Corp. are preparing to launch their fourth-generation wireless network in the Providence area soon, Eyewitness News has learned.
In recent months, the two companies have sought approvals from cities and towns including North Providence and West Warwick to put up new wireless antennas or add to existing ones, according to municipal records.
Clearwire has also posted a job opening on RINexus.com, the info-tech and digital media website run by the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, saying "Providence is poised to be the next market to launch" the 4G network.
Clearwire sells wireless Internet service under its own brands, Clear and Rover , separately from Sprint's cell phone service. It will compete with wired broadband services sold by Cox and Verizon, as well as other wireless broadband providers like Verizon and AT&T.
Adam Townsend, the local manager for Clear, confirmed in an e-mail that the company has been preparing to launch its network in Providence but declined to specify when it would become available.
Clearwire had planned to introduce its 4G network in Providence last year, but the rollout was delayed by the recession.
Sprint introduced the first 4G cell phone for use in the U.S., the Evo from HTC, in July. The company said the new network is 10 times faster than current third-generation, or 3G, networks.
Although Sprint and Clearwire share the same 4G network, Sprint does not yet offer its phone customers 4G service in all the areas where Clear is available. A spokesman for Sprint did not return an e-mail asking when it would offer 4G in Providence.
Clearwire says it expects to spend roughly $3 billion building out its 4G network this year and should have coverage available to up to 120 million Americans by Dec. 31. Clear is currently available in 49 markets nationwide.
Verizon plans to begin rolling out its own 4G network later this year, and AT&T has said its network will debut in 2011. They will use a 4G technology called LTE, short for Long-Term Evolution, while Clearwire uses a technology called WiMax.
A local company that offers WiMax service is Middletown-based Towerstream , which sells 4G wireless services to businesses in 11 markets nationwide including Providence, Boston, New York and San Francisco.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Towerstream is based in Portsmouth.
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