02:04 PM

Sprint Nextel Adopts WiMax

Sprint Nextel is working with Intel, Motorola, and Samsung to develop a nationwide network infrastructure, along with chipsets for computing, portable multimedia, interactive, and consumer electronic devices.

With WiMax comes the promise of wireless coverage everywhere, superfast data speeds, and affordable Internet services. But widespread adoption will require the support of a carrier like Sprint Nextel, which today revealed mobile WiMax as a technology of choice to build its fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband network.

Sprint Nextel is working with Intel, Motorola, and Samsung to develop the nationwide network infrastructure and chipsets for computing, portable multimedia, interactive, and consumer electronic devices. It will all use the IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard for mobile WiMax, which will allow people to surf the Web while walking or riding in cars.

The carrier will invest $1 billion in 2007 and between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in 2008 to build its mobile broadband network, with the first services planned for the end of 2007. Sprint Nextel says it will reach as many as 100 million people in 2008.

The download speeds for services offered on Sprint Nextel's mobile WiMax network will average between 2 and 4 Mbps. "That means you'll be able to download a 10-minute video with a portable video player in about 100 seconds, which is about four times faster than what is possible today," said Gary Forsee, Sprint Nextel's president and CEO, during a press conference.

Sprint Nextel has an advantage over other carriers. WiMax requires licensed spectrum, but it's scarce and expensive in the United States. The WiMax Forum, which certifies products for interoperability, has designated two bands: 2.5 GHz, which is mostly owned by Sprint Nextel and ClearWire, and 3.5 GHz, which isn't available in the United States. Sprint Nextel will put its 2.5-GHz spectrum to good use: "[It] will be the first carrier to market 4G services to customers," Forsee said.

Market observers have been skeptical about the prospects for mobile WiMax in the United States because of existing wired and cellular networks. However, Sprint Nextel's plan to deploy mobile WiMax and efforts by technology vendors like Intel mean the United States will be an important part of a growing mobile WiMax "ecosystem," according to an ABI Research statement to the media.

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