Clearwire Introduces Portable WiMAX HotSpot

WiMAX has definitely had a difficult time taking off here in the US, but with Sprint hoping to expand the service to around a dozen major metropolitan areas before the dawn of 2011, there's still hope for a late surge in adoption. And honestly, it's devices like this that'll make it happen. Clearwire has just announced an interesting new product that could eventually make you think twice about ditching your current ISP and going strictly WiMAX: the CLEAR Spot. Put simply, this is a portable WiMAX modem with built-in Wi-Fi capability, meaning that it can deliver WiMAX signals to multiple Wi-Fi-enabled products.

Think of it this way -- you fire up the CLEAR Spot and secure a blazing fast WiMAX connection. Then, you and a house full (or classroom full, whatever your imagination dreams up) of wireless notebooks flip on your Wi-Fi modules. Suddenly, a room full of machines (or even Wi-Fi cellphones, like the iPhone) are surfing the mobile broadband superhighway, and there's no need for a DSL / cable modem + Wi-Fi router. Impressive, no?

The hardware is being engineered and produced by CradlePoint, a company all too familiar with creating mobile hotspots that turn WWAN connections into ones that can be shared. It's also battery powered, meaning that you can bring Wi-Fi to beaches, vacation homes or anywhere else where WiMAX signals abound but AC outlets do not. All users have to do is insert their CLEAR USB model ($49) into the router and an instant Wi-Fi hotspot (802.11b/g) is created.

Currently, this device won't do you much good outside of Clearwire's first major WiMAX zone in Portland, Oregon and in the ex-XOHM territory of Baltimore, Maryland, but it's hoping to expand that very soon. The CLEAR Spot itself will be available early this month at CLEAR stores and authorized dealers for $139, with data plans starting at $10 per day or $30 per month.