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WiMAX could loose one of its biggest supporters

No, we’re not referring to P1 but rather, we’re reffering to one of WiMAX most successful deployments to date – Clearwire in the US.

This week, Clear had just finalised new partnership terms with Intel – a strong proponent of WiMAX and also a major investor in Clear – to allow Clear to deploy other forms of wireless technology. And already Clear are looking at the feasbility of deploying LTE or Long-Term Evolution – a strong oponent of WiMAX.

This comes as a shocker for those who are closely looking at the whole WiMAX vs. LTE battle as Clear in the same announcement said that it will make available two new 4G mobile phones powered by Android, one reported to be built by HTC and the other by Samsung. Already Clear has in its arsenal one of the most powerful Android devices in the market, the HTC EVO 4G. Even before its official launch the device is already getting rave reviews. So much so that even Oprah used one on her show and is believed to be giving it away to her audience for Christmas.

In addition to that Clear, has also announced that it will deploy WiMAX in 18 new markets in the US to cover an estimated 120 million people by end of this year.

Check out the video of Oprah using the HTC EVO 4G phone after the jump.

Clear is the only WiMAX operator in the US and has been showing strong growth thus far. In the first quarter of this year alone Clear had added over 230,000 subscribers which, it claims, is more than the entire previous year. To date, Clear has over 917,000 subscribers, a majority of which are on its WiMAX network. Despite the impressive numbers, Clear posted a net loss of US$439 million in its first quarter numbers for 2010.

By comparison, P1 – one of Malaysia’s more prominent WiMAX operators – officially announced that it had closed 2009 with 140,000 subscribers.

Despite Clear’s early WiMAX adoption, other major operators in the US are banking on LTE as their ticket into the 4G world. And if the many 3G operators around world, who have indicated that they will jump to LTE, do make the jump, there is potentially a much bigger and lucrative ecosystem for devices and equipment manufacturers in the LTE camp.

How would this affect Malaysia?
The ramifications of this could be huge or it could mean nothing. With Intel as a storng backer of WiMAX, the technology could still soldier on and P1 would still be able to run a sustainable business if it can fix its network reliability and customer service quality issues quickly. Clear has proven that there’s nothing wrong with the technology, its just the companies that deploy it.

Another scenario would be that for the first time ever we can see two technologies converging together to make-up a 4G standard. Executives at Clear had pointed out that makers of chips for devices are beginning to combine WiMax and LTE as the two technologies are closely related.

But with three other operators WiMAX operators in Malaysia now at an almost stagnant state (one looking to be a DOA case). It’ll be a long way to go until we get a feel on where WiMAX will go in this country. Until then, P1 appears to be the country’s only hope.