The big difference is anyone can slap up a hotspot. Only wireless carriers--or other owners of spectrum, like some schools--can send out WiMax signals. Sprint is the largest owner of WiMax-approved spectrum.
WiMax was far from a sure thing for Sprint (and still may be--the announcement is today at 1 p.m. EST). Sprint said earlier this summer it was considering a number of technologies, including those based on cellular approaches. At a Wireless Communications Association presentation this summer, Sprint spoke more about Flash OFDM, a contender for mobile broadband, and an outgrowth of the UMTS standards used in Europe than it did about WiMax, InformationWeek's J. Nicholas Hoover reported.
We'll update as we learn more from Sprint. The real wireless Web--one that truly works for data and that provides the mobile Internet we want--is starting to take shape.