XOHM May Launch This Summer
ThinkEquity LLC is claiming that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) will launch its initial XOHM WiMax networks in early summer.
The analyst firm, which has been one of the key cheerleaders for Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and XOHM in recent months, says that that initial "WiMax network launch" for the XOHM service will happen in Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, and Portland, Ore., "mid-year" with "others following closely behind."
Chicago and Baltimore-Washington were the initial markets slated for an April launch by Sprint, which has subsequently been delayed. Portland, meanwhile, is a Clearwire market, and the analyst firm continues to suggest that a link-up between the two WiMax rivals will happen sooner rather than later.
Sprint isn't saying anything about either topic. At the recent CTIA show, Sprint CTO Barry West told Unstrung that the April launch has been delayed by backhaul woes but wouldn't put a new date on XOHM going commercial.
West was even more recalcitrant on talk of a Sprint-Clearwire hook-up, telling reporters that it wasn't worth their effort to ask the question. Other vendors at the Vegas show, however, suggested that XOHM would be up and running by Fall. (See Sprint Quiet on WiMax Launch Date and Sprint's Backhaul Bottleneck.)
The ThinkEquity research note author, Eric Kainer, says that the carriers will offer "residential WiMax gateways" to users as the networks launch. These gateways, he suggests, will combine a DSL or cable modem with a router and analog telephone adapter (ATA). "Some gateways feature integrated WiFi to serve as an access point, others do not, although each vendor seems to have such a device on its product roadmap," Kainer writes.
The integrated ATA will enable the WiMax service providers to offer "a residential package of broadband and voice very economically, with voice being perhaps a $5-10 per month unlimited add-on," he contines. "This mirrors T-Mobile USA's residential voice service currently offered in two markets and slated for nationwide launch any time now."
Although Sprint has offered only limited insight into the products it will launch with XOHM, this gateway concept seems to resonate with the thinking of West and the rest of the XOHM crew. The Sprint CTO is already keen on using femtocells to improve the indoor coverage of the 2.5 GHz XOHM service.
ThinkEquity, it should be noted, has been calling for the reformation of the Clearwire-Sprint partnership almost since the pair originally split in November 2007, suggesting that firms such as Best Buy, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and Intel Capital were ready to invest in a new joint venture. (See ThinkEquity Bangs WiMax Drum, Clearwire-Sprint Deal Soon? , and Sprint-Clearwire: On Again in 2008?.)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung