Clearwire has switched on its WiMAX service in the greater metropolitan area of Portland, Ore. -- the company's second WiMAX coverage zone in the United States. Early last month, Clearwire completed its transaction to acquire and operate Sprint-Nextel's Xohm-branded WiMAX service in Baltimore, which Clearwire expects to rebrand with the name "Clear."

"Clearwire is reinventing wireless by delivering an unmatched combination of Internet speed and mobility," said company CEO Benjamin Wolff. "We're providing a valuable service designed to improve our customers' productivity and make their lives more enjoyable, wherever they happen to be in our coverage area."

Clear Subscription Options

Under Clearwire's three plans for fixed residential locations, priced at $20, $30 and $40 per month, consumers receive download speeds of 786 Kbps, three Mbps, and six Mbps. By contrast, unlimited mobile Internet usage costs $50 per month. However, cheaper $30 and $40 mobile plans are also available with 200MB or 2GB of monthly Internet usage.

Consumers in need of both stationary and on-the-go capabilities can save up to $20 per month by subscribing to both fixed and mobile plans. A $10-per-day Clear pass is also available for occasional-use customers.

Clear plans for fixed business locations -- priced at $55 and $75 -- deliver download speeds in the four-to-six Mbps range, as well as speedy one-Mbps uploads. The service provider also says it intends to roll out a shared-usage plan in the near future that will enable enterprise-class customers to incrementally add mobile users for just $25 per additional device.

None of Clearwire's new plans require the subscriber to commit to any long-term service contracts. Business, mobile and residential plans can all be purchased by the day or month.

Clear on the Go

When it comes to hardware, connecting to Portland's Clear service is relatively simple and inexpensive. For example, residential customers can lease a wireless high-speed modem for just $4.99 per month.

The Motorola-built CPEi 150 is a true plug-and-play modem that can be self-installed by residential customers. About the size of a small book, the device automatically connects to the Clear network and even authenticates itself. The modem also features an intuitive graphical interface that will enable users to personalize their service as well as troubleshoot the connection.

Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba all have notebook PCs in the works that will ship with embedded WiMAX technology. In the short term, however, Clearwire's mobile customers will use the new USBw 100 adapter from Motorola, which is priced at $49.99. Designed to plug into the USB port of any laptop, the compact, thumb-sized modem can be activated within minutes from any location within Clear's coverage area, both indoors and out.

Sprint-Nextel had targeted Chicago and Washington, D.C., for a 2008 launch before the transition of its Xohm-branded service to Clearwire, backed by $3.2 billion in investments from industry giants Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks. But Clearwire is not saying which cities will be next as part of its multiyear network build-out plan.

Clearwire currently offers what it calls a pre-WiMAX Internet service in 46 markets throughout the United States. The company said it expects to announce its rollout plans for future markets, as well as upgrade plans for existing pre-WiMAX markets, sometime early this year.