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Sprint Plans Mobile WiMax In Q4 ’07

8/09/2006 07:34:00 AM Eastern

New York – Sprint Nextel teamed with Intel, Motorola and Samsung to announce plans for a fourth quarter 2007 commercial launch of mobile WiMAX wireless-broadband service in select markets, an expansion in 2008 to markets with a combined population of more than 100 million people, and the addition of more markets after that.

The companies eventually foresee a wide range of cellphones and other mobile devices connected wirelessly to the Internet at residential-broadband speeds averaging 2-4Mbps for the downlink. The devices will include music- and video-downloading portable media players (PMPs), handheld gaming devices, handheld navigation systems, digital cameras and other CE devices.

For Sprint’s launch, chief technology officer Barry West foresees “a whole range” of devices, including “new small types of PCs.” Those first devices will be WiMAX-only devices, but in the future dual-mode cellphones will operate in Sprint’s CDMA 1x and 1x EV-DO markets and in WiMAX markets.

Equally important are the speeds at which handheld devices will be able to transmit data, enabling owners of 4G-equipped cellphones or video cameras to share events live with friends and relatives sitting at PCs or Internet-connected TVs.

West described Mobile WiMAX as a fourth-generation (4G) wireless service that will “deliver the Internet everywhere” at prices benchmarked to residential broadband service, and he foresaw the potential to deliver 1GB of data monthly for “well under $20 per month.”

“You’ll just naturally get the wireless experience” without driving to a Wi-Fi hot spot, choosing a hot spot provider, and paying around $10 per hour of use, said West, who becomes president of Sprint’s 4G wireless broadband unit.

Said Motorola chairman/CEO Ed Zander,” The Internet is going airborne.”

Sprint will launch service sooner than previously disclosed and will become the first U.S. carrier to deliver 4G service. Earlier this year, Sprint sketched out plans to launch mobile broadband service sometime in 2008 or early 2009, but the company at the time hadn’t selected the technology it would use.

In choosing the Internet Protocol-based technology, Sprint said mobile WiMAX has major infrastructure and chip makers behind it, delivers four times the throughput of other wireless technologies at up to one-tenth the cost, and is better suited for its 100MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum than competing technologies.

Also driving down costs and raising throughput are the 50,000 Sprint Nextel cell sites onto which the technology can be overlaid, Sprint said.

Mobile WiMAX allows for use in moving vehicles at speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour, said Samsung Telecommunications Network president KiTae Lee. Mobile WiMax could eventually be expanded to deliver up to 14Mbps of download throughput, the WiMax Forum previously stated.

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