Companies set to unveil 4G networks

People who use wireless devices in the Bay Area will have two new options starting this week that promise faster speeds.

Two national companies — one for wireless Internet and the other for cell phone coverage — are expected to launch 4G networks in the Bay Area on Tuesday.

For laptop users looking to gain faster Wi-Fi, Seattle-based Clearwire is launching WiMAX — described by company representatives as Wi-Fi on steroids — in San Francisco and much of the Bay Area.

Subscribers to Clearwire need only a USB air card to connect anywhere, according to Clearwire Bay Area General Manager Casey Gordon.

“You can just plug it right in,” he said. “Instead of Internet just in the house, you can use it at the office, share it on a bus or even on a park bench.”

Clearwire is already offered in Sacramento, Stockton and Los Angeles. Company representatives say they have roughly 4 million customers in 70 markets since their launch in 2009.

Casey said though customers are increasingly wanting to use data from their cell phones, the ease of using fast Internet from anywhere on a laptop is still in high demand.

“Consumers have a need for mobile Internet,” Casey said. “This is a fast product you can take anywhere in town.”

Also, wireless phone users will be able to take advantage of the increased speed on a 4G network when Sprint launches its version.

Cell phone users in San Francisco and the Bay Area will be able to use the network for better and faster data on mobile phones, according to Sprint.

“The network uses wireless 4G technology that differs from Wi-Fi because it provides service areas measured in miles, not feet,” according to a statement from Sprint. “Customers will now be able to increase their mobility and productivity in many ways: from instantly downloading large files to get work done on the run.”

Sprint has 4G networks in 65 markets, according to the company’s website.

Casey said it has taken years to plan and construct 4G towers in San Francisco for all types of users to take advantage of.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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