Sprint Drops the WiMax Shoe
I had assumed -- until the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) announcement -- that the winning combination would be broadband cellular (3G/3.5G/3.75G/whatever) coupled with WiFi. So along comes Sprint with what we can all agree is a 4G mobile-WiMax rollout, and, OK, we won’t see it until the end of next year, but, wow, I mean, this is Sprint! Yes, the big cellular carrier! We’d all assumed they would deploy WiMax in their 2.5 GHz. spectrum, but the announcement could be read that this isn’t just a data service or adjunct offering; it is instead the future of Sprint and perhaps mobile communications overall.
Sprint still has some splainin’ to do, though. OK, I’m an IT manager for a big company. Do I continue that planned rollout of EV-DO to my 30,000 people in the field, or do I wait for WiMax and 4G? And will WiMax have enough bandwidth to realize the 4G dream on its own, or are we now talking a converged WiMax/WiFi offering? And what will Sprint’s competitors -- particularly Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless -- do? This is going to get, um, interesting -- and quickly.
— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung