Clearwire has devised an unusual way to encourage developers to create applications for its Clear mobile WiMAX service: establish service in a community teeming with engineers and then give them free access.

Clearwire plans to cover an area in the heart of Silicon Valley. Service will be provided free to a limited number of qualified developers for one year. Clearwire will provide WiMAX USB modems for $49.99.

To qualify, developers must register for Clearwire's developer program and describe the products or business ideas they wish to pursue.  

Clearwire’s WiMAX Innovation Network will initially cover more than 20 square miles in Silicon Valley, in an area that includes the campuses of Google, Intel (which are both investors in Clearwire) and Cisco Systems.

Cisco will also provide core Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) infrastructure equipment in support of the WiMAX Innovation Network. 

"Enabling developers to start building the next generation of mobile applications on Clear's 4G network now will encourage innovation and showcase the benefits of an open network," said Larry Alder, mobile product manager at Google.

"The WiMAX Innovation Network will provide some of the world's most talented developers with a live test environment in which to build broadband services specifically designed for the 4G mobile Internet experience," said Scott Richardson, chief strategy officer for Clearwire.  "Our goals have always been to change the way people access the Internet and provide new opportunities for mobile applications. Providing early access to an eager pool of developers while we continue to roll out 4G services nationally makes perfect sense."

Service in the Silicon Valley area is expected to be available to developers by late summer of this year, giving them a head start on commercial service launching in the Bay Area in 2010.

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