Chicago WiMax Is 'Imminent'
CHICAGO -- WiMax World 2008 -- Hard on the heels of the Baltimore XOHM launch, a Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) executive says that a mobile WiMax launch in Chicago is "imminent" and inextricably linked with the closing of the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) asset merger.
"Right after our merger, which is imminent, we'll be in a position to announce markets, and Clearwire will be in a position to announce markets," says Atish Gude, senior vice president of Mobile Broadband Operations at Sprint Nextel's new 4G Mobile Broadband business unit. The operator will use what it learns from early returns from Baltimore to decide whether to launch in Washington or Chicago next. Both cities are supposed to go commerical by the end of the year.
Chicago is Sprint's largest WiMax market to date. The operator has so far installed 600 or so cell sites around the Chicago area, compared with 180 radios around Baltimore.
"It's the big bang," says Gude of Chicago. Whatever the operator does first, Gude insists that "the launch of this market is imminent." He wouldn't, however, say exactly what "imminent" means in terms of days, weeks, or months.
Gude and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) spokespeople said that the network is currently offering around 8 Mbit/s on the downlink, but Gude is cautious about saying that the speeds will stay that way. "We're sticking to 2 to 4 Mbit/s," says Gude of early network speeds. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung