If you're one of over 4 million people living in Houston, TX, your mobile connection options just got a lot better. Clearwire, the company providing WiMax/4G service for Sprint, announced today the launch of its 28th US metropolitan market in the Houston metro area.

According to the press release,

… coverage extends as far north as Conroe and northeast as Kingwood; as far west as Katy and southwest as Richmond/Rosenburg; as far south as Alvin and southeast as Clear Lake; as far east as Baytown.

CLEAR service will also be available in the city of Lake Jackson to the south of Houston.

Houston 4G map

Sprint 4G

The 4G connection requires a 4G broadband card or one of the upcoming 4G mobile phones, such as the HTC EVO 4G announced last week.

Sprint promises the service should deliver speeds up to 10x faster than 3G:

  • downstream: 10-12 Mbps max and 3-6 Mbps on average
  • upstream: 5 Mbps max and 0.5-1.5 Mbps on average

Planned Sprint 4G Availability

Sprint and Clearwire are planning to continue releasing 4G throughout 2010 in these areas:

  • Boston, MA
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Denver, CO
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New York City, NY
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Washington, D.C.

Current Sprint 4G Availability

WiMax is already available in the following areas:

  • Abilene, TX
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Bellingham, WA
  • Boise, ID
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Corpus Christi, TX
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Killeen/Temple, TX
  • Kitsap, WA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Lubbock, TX
  • Maui, HI
  • Midland/Odessa, TX
  • Milledgeville, GA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Salem, OR
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Seattle, WA
  • Snohomish, WA
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Waco, TX

The Future Of WiMax

The next version of the 802.11e WiMax standard, called WiMax Release 2 (802.16m), is already in the works and aims to offer up to 100 Mbps mobile and 1 Gbps fixed bandwidth. It is expected to be available commercially by 2011-2012.

Release 2 of WiMax is being designed to be backward compatible with the current Release 1. This means that no upgrades should be needed for current WiMax cards to be able to communicate with WiMax Release 2 networks at the Release 1 level. In fact, a software upgrade could potentially enable the same 1st generation devices to communicate with Release 2 networks at the Release 2 level.