Sprint, Back In The WiMax Saddle?

Silva I’ve been following the voluminous press around Sprint’s WiMax partnership
announcement
today. I’ve been following the news mostly to see if I’m
missing anything, and it seems I’m not. It looks like a good news/bad news story
for end users of the service. The good news is that there is a solid consortium
around Sprint’s Xohm initiative which, until now, seemed increasingly more
promise than substance. With the most recent dissolution of the agreement with
Clearwire and subsequent deployment delays, I was beginning to think we’d see
LTE before WiMax coverage that Sprint had promised. In short, it looks like a
solid team – albeit with some fluffy marketing language. Intel’s roadmap was
already committed to supplying WiMax chipsets in its devices as a way to drive
up sticker price with a small increase in BOM cost, regardless of the network
build out.

The bad news: this does nothing to get Sprint closer to reaching it’s committed
100M PoPs with the Xohm service by year’s end as stated in mid-2007. No doubt
this will raise questions on the longevity of Sprint as a whole and some doubts
around how soon any of us will see Xohm service in North America. It’s also
been suggested that the backhaul Sprint has in place (mostly T1) is underpowered
for the throughput the Xohm service will need to backhaul once it’s up and
running with a decent number of users. Microwave backhaul is an answer to this,
but not something that Sprint seems to have invested heavily in.

So, for now it reads to me like a lot of good intentions which do nothing to
diminish the daunting task of building out the network and it’s requisite
backplane to make Xohm a reality at the level of expectations Sprint and others
have built around WiMax. New company or not, what matters now is execution, and
the clock is ticking before WiMax begins to lose spotlight to true 4G
technologies like LTE.

By Chris Silva

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