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Sprint Says Mobile WiMax Passes Tests, Will Launch This Year

WiMax has passed key speed and mobility hurdles and is on track to be launched later this year.

The WiMax tests being conducted in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., by Sprint and Samsung have passed key speed and mobility hurdles and the mobile Wimax technology is on track to be launched later this year, the companies reported Thursday.

Sprint is in the process of turning over valuable spectrum to Clearwire, which will be realigned with new partners -- including Sprint -- to deploy WiMax in the U.S.

The WiMax landscape is gradually being populated in fits and starts by companies big and small desiring to get in on the ground floor of the wide area, high-speed wireless technology. Covad Wireless also said on Thursday it too has successfully completed WiMax laboratory tests and plans to begin deploying WiMax service later this year.

The sweet spot of WiMax is mobile WiMax, which often is introduced after base stations have been fitted with fixed WiMax. There are a few mobile WiMax deployments underway in the U.S. and several in international markets. Mobile WiMax rollouts have used equipment from Cisco Systems after it acquired Navini Systems.

Sprint is building its Xohm mobile broadband Internet service to be compliant with the mobile WiMax standard. Sprint refers to Xohm as an ecosystem complete with a developer community, selling partners, infrastructure builders, and devices including handsets and ultra mobile PCs.

"The collaboration with Samsung and our other partners has created a WiMax ecosystem that has now proven that it can deliver this new technology to the marketplace well ahead of any feasible alternative," said Xohm president Barry West in a statement. "This is a major step towards launch readiness."

Mobile WiMax is still largely untested in broad urban and suburban areas. Early deployments in rural areas in California, Oklahoma and Texas have generally gone well, although those rollouts are still new.

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