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"Innovation Networks" offer developers early access to 4G

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The 4G landscape in the U.S. is finally emerging from the fog of meaningless "WiMAX vs. LTE" arguments to the real availability of next-generation mobile broadband networks. Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse is quoted as declaring 2010 as the "year of 4G", and has backed up that statement with an additional investment of more than $1B in Clearwire's plan for a nationwide mobile WiMAX network. (Clearwire also announced an alliance with Cisco for development of their next-generation network core infrastructure). At the same time, Verizon Wireless gave their first public demonstration of LTE technology to industry analysts at the recent Consumer Electronics meeting in Las Vegas, and confirmed that the company is on track to deploy their 4G network in 25-30 markets this year.

To foster development of new devices and applications that will exploit 4G technology, wireless operators are offering opportunities to participate in early developer programs, such as Verizon's Open Development initiative. Sprint has established an Application Developers Program, and along with Clearwire they presented opportunities in 4G development at their Open Developer Conference last fall.  Now AT&T has announced that they will establish three "Innovation Centers" to support their plans to begin LTE trial deployment sometime in 2011.

Here in Silicon Valley, Clearwire has launched their "4G Innovation Network" covering portions of Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and Mountain View. On March 2, developers will have an opportunity to participate in a workshop to be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Registration requires membership in Clearwire's program, which is limited to those who reside (or work) in the zip codes currently covered by 11 WiMAX base stations.  However, I have also learned that Sprint is offering registration to members of their developer's program, as well as members of the San Francisco area Android Developers group. Information is posted on the SF Android Meetup site, or you can contact me for more information.

-Mike Demler

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