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How Close Is AT&T to WiMax?

Last week's announcement that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is working with Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) on a WiMax deployment in Alaska got me wondering what it would take to truly get the carrier on the WiMax bandwagon. (See AT&T: Broadband in Alaska.)

The major stumbling block, of course, is the availability of spectrum. There are two ways AT&T could get more air capacity: Win big in the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auctions; buy Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S).

Neither option would be cheap, as each would likely cost billions of dollars. The spectrum buyout, however, would likely be cheaper and easier than buying Sprint – less money up front and fewer regulatory and network integration hassles.

This is what makes the Alaska deployment rather interesting. It seems AT&T will have time to test newer WiMax technology before the 700MHz auctions, which have to happen before the end of January 2008. BellSouth reportedly tested some early WiMax-style kit before it was assimilated by Ma Bell, but AT&T hasn't done much with the technology since, at least not officially.

It'll be interesting to see if Alaska heats up AT&T's interest in WiMax.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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