Clearwire has launched a free test area 4G WiMax network for the developer community in Silicon Valley he launch of the largest test area yet for its 4G WiMax service in Silicon Valley.

The "Innovation Network," as Clearwire has dubbed it, covers 20 square miles of the valley, and is intended to hit the developer community where it lives.

The network covers Santa Clara, Mountain View and parts of downtown Palo Alto, California. That means it can service the campuses of Google, Intel and Cisco, and perhaps the apartments and garages of many other independent developers. Clearwire originally announced plans for the network in April.

In order to get unlimited access to the network developers must prove that they are working on a legitimate project, and they must purchase one of Clearwire's WiMax modems, which start at $50. And the free service offer lasts only one year.

What's In It for Clearwire?

Clearwire hopes that by being the first in the area to offer a fast 4G network in the neighborhood, it will spur developers to create new apps that depend on and leverage 4G speed. (WiMax can deliver average download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps, while most 3G networks average download speeds of between 600 kbps - 1.4 Mbps.) For instance, a Clearwire rep told me, possible apps might use multiple high-bandwidth services like video and large file sharing.

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