Cisco, Clearwire to team up on WiMax

Clearwire Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. today announced an alliance to expand high-speed WiMax services nationwide, with Cisco providing the core network infrastructure equipment.

Cisco also plans to build new WiMax devices for consumers and small and medium-size businesses that will serve as endpoints for Clearwire's WiMax service, which is called Clear, the companies said.

Cisco said it will introduce its first mobile WiMax device later this year. Clearwire plans to provide WiMax service in 80 U.S. cities by the end of 2010. It currently offers WiMax in Baltimore and Portland, Ore.

Regarding the networking gear that Cisco will provide for the Clear network, the companies said Clearwire is testing and certifying an IP Next Generation Network architecture from Cisco built with Cisco 7600 routers and Cisco switches and firewalls, plus a module that Cisco calls the Home Agent. Financial terms of the alliance were not announced.

Analysts noted that Cisco has been ready to enter the WiMax market for a few years, having purchased Navini Networks Inc. at the end of 2007 as a first sign of that strategy.

“Cisco has been sitting on this opportunity for a while,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst. “If it continues on this course, this [alliance] could be an exciting new competitive [wireless] offering starting to pop up in various cities over the next few years.”

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