I already knew this was going to be a make-or-break-year for Mobile WiMax. And now the clock is literally ticking. Verizon Wireless just announced that it has chosen Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as its launch partners for the carrier’s upcoming LTE deployment, slated for 2010. In trials Verizon has seen peak speeds of 50 to 60 Mbps. Assuming the real-world throughput is a tenth of that (Verizon hasn’t confirmed true data rates) LTE will be about twice as fast as Clearwire’s two-cities-and-perpetually-counting network. And I don’t see the Mobile WiMAX footprint in the U.S. moving much beyond Baltimore and Portland anytime soon, not when the company recently said that it has a $2 billion funding gap. Obama to the rescue! Seriously, it’s not a good sign when head of sales at Intel Executive VP Sean Maloney says that “The current build-out rate for Clearwire is pretty fast. We can come back to whether it needs to be faster or not at some point in the next year or so.” Um, in a year or so, LTE will be rolling out, and Clearwire will have lost its all-important first mover advantage. I was personally impressed with Mobile WiMAX when I saw it in action this past fall in Baltimore, but unless Clearwire kicks it into high gear by this spring/summer the technology will fade into obscurity faster than you can say 4G. Update: Clearwire has issued a press release that defends WiMAX, stating that today “Clearwire customers experience better speeds and bandwidth than what is being described as next year’s LTE networks.” I’m not sure what that means, given that Verizon hasn’t made any real-world speed claims. More important, a Clearwire rep contacted me saying that we will learn more about further U.S. deployment details when the company releases its financial results March 5.