Clearwire WiMax users will get remote setup

The WiMax operator will use software from Mformation to activate and upgrade client devices in the field

Clearwire has turned to device management vendor Mformation to streamline the activation and maintenance of devices on its U.S. WiMax network.

Mformation provides software for over-the-air device setup and management to an array of vendors including Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange and Sprint Nextel. It includes small applications on devices as well as administration systems for both service providers and enterprises. Clearwire said it will use Mformation's software as part of its overall device management platform for device activation, service provisioning, diagnostics and upgrades over the air.

Remote services, from activation through software upgrades and support, will be especially important for Clearwire because it doesn't have a large network of stores as the traditional cellular operators do, said analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. The WiMax operator aims to have most of the devices for its Clear network sold through conventional consumer electronics channels such as Best Buy and online stores rather than its own retail outlets. Buyers will be able to take those products home and activate them over the air.

Clearwire device activation may be made more complex by the fact that many of the devices that can be used on the service will also have radios for other networks, particularly Sprint's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) 3G system and Wi-Fi, Gold said. In addition, third parties such as cable operator Comcast will be reselling access to the Clearwire network. Clearwire would not give further details of how the company or its reseller partners will use the Mformation technology. Comcast officials were not immediately available for comment.

Mformation is one of the largest vendors of remote device management software, along with Smith Micro and Sybase's iAnywhere division, Gold said. Without software from a third party such as Mformation, Clearwire would have had to either develop its own platform or guide subscribers through step-by-step processes that can be tedious, he said.

The Clear service is available in two major metropolitan areas -- Baltimore and Portland, Oregon -- and some other areas. Clearwire expects to cover 120 million potential customers in 80 markets by the end of next year.

Other service providers, including Verizon Wireless and AT&T, have said they also are heading toward opening their networks to devices bought in retail stores and activated by the consumer.

"Remote provisioning for almost any device is extremely important these days," Gold said.

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