updated 04:10 pm EDT, Wed June 18, 2008
Xohm Live in September
Sprint's long-delayed full rollout of its Xohm WiMAX Internet service should start in September, company chief technical officer Barry West said Wednesday at the WiMAX Forum's Global Congress event. The executive now claims that the 4G-class wireless network will start its normal, paid business in September with a first run in Baltimore; Chicago and Washington DC, which have also participated in early trials, will see their networks opened to the public sometime in the fall. Other cities should come soon after, West says.
The launch devices should still include much of what has been promised earlier in the year, such as Nokia's N810 WiMAX Edition, notebooks based on Intel's Centrino 2 platform with the appropriate hardware, as well as more conventional adapters that include a ZyXEL router for desktops, a Sierra Wireless AirCard for notebooks, and a ZTE-made USB adapter.
The delays beyond the originally planned April launch have revolved around improving speeds for Xohm's backbone, West says. WiMAX over Xohm typically provides between 2Mbps and 4Mbps in real-world conditions and thus puts much more stress on Sprint's network than its 3G cellular access, which often tops out at 1.4Mbps.
A more definite release date puts Sprint's service ahead of planned 4G offerings from AT&T and Verizon. The two plan to introduce faster Internet access based on the potentially more widespread Long Term Evolution (LTE) format but don't plan on launching commercial service until 2010, when Sprint hopes to cover as many as 140 million Americans with Xohm.