Optical/IP Networks

Sprint Goes WiMax

Taking a flyer on next-generation wireless systems, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) says it will use mobile WiMax technology to create a high-speed wireless network that will serve 100 million subscribers by the end of 2008.

The firm is teaming up with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp. on the massive project. Motorola and Samsung will provide mobile WiMax infrastructure and multi-mode devices for the network, while Intel will provide chipsets. All three will contribute undisclosed amounts of money for the infrastructure and marketing of this new network.

Sprint Nextel itself expects to spend $1 billion on the network in 2007 and up to $2 billion in 2008. That will enable the company to offer much higher data transfer speeds for broadband wireless users. Sprint Nextel CTO, and president-designate of the firm's new 4G unit, Barry West says users could see up to 4 Mbit/s on the downlink.

"I really believe that mobile broadband is going to completely change our lives," he told a packed press conference at the Westin Hotel in Times Square in New York.

West made no secret of the fact that Sprint aims to steal a march on its major competitors Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless . "We know there is a mobile data revenue opportunity out there waiting for the right technology to come along and grab it," West said.

The Sprint announcement comes as a blow to Qualcomm, which has developed its own proprietary broadband wireless technology based on WCDMA. The crop of WiMax startups that have invested heavily in developing WiMax equipment and making it work together has been a boost for big companies.

"The significance of this is it puts WiMax on a firm footing," says Paul Sergeant, director of WiMax systems marketing for Motorola. "In the same way that Sprint's selection of CDMA in 1996 made that a viable technology. Sprint is a very significant and stable carrier that will drive the development of WiMax and make it a fully commercial and fully viable solution that can provide lots of services."

Sprint may be the only large carrier in the U.S. that is capable of driving WiMax adoption in this way. The company owns 2.5GHz spectrum in 85 percent of the top 100 U.S. markets, according to Sprint CEO Gary Forsee. The carrier plans to start by using 10MHz channels of the spectrum to deliver services but may make those pipes even fatter in the future.

As it stands, no other major American carrier, fixed or wireless, can match this. In fact, some analysts have said in the past that this could give the operator a six- to twelve-month head start in deploying mobile broadband technology.(See WiMax USA: Spectrum Crunch.)

Sprint Nextel, however, needs to push its spectrum advantage after recently reporting poor customer growth -- compared to its rivals -- and a 38 percent drop in quarterly earnings for the second quarter. (See Sprint & Verizon Push 3G.)

Wall Street was not dazzled by the WiMax scheme: Sprint Nextel shares lost just under 2 percent of their value in heavy trading today, though a rebound was underway as the market closed.

For IT managers, the announcement means that "they have to start thinking about their applications as not just working inside the office building but as working everywhere the Internet is -- which is now everywhere," comments Sergeant.

The first mobile WiMax hardware in the U.S., which will likely be PC cards and WiMax-enabled laptops, are expected to be available as Sprint lights up its initial cellsites at the end of 2007. These single-mode devices will offer users faster data rates, but only in markets where Sprint has launched its 4G service. So Motorola and Samsung are working on dual- and multi-mode devices that will allow users to talk and download wherever they may roam. These are expected on the market in 2008.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, and Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:45:19 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax we shall see how much is ultimately invested.

the teaming with Intel, Motorola was not unexpected after the Clearwire announcement. pretty much seemed given as the lever.

but, alas, will Sprint stay the course or flounder about, as history indicates.

well this is it, if they move ahead agressively, there may be life, otherwise RIP WiMAX (and this generation of BWA, like the last WLL gen)

Vegas odds are well against sucess at this point...lay your bets now.
lrmobile_rusty 12/5/2012 | 3:45:18 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax Is it just me or do Sprint's investment numbers ($1B in '07; $2B in '08) seem rather low? To me this looks like Moto, Intel and Samsung kicking in a ton of money to push Sprint in this direction. I would be very interested to learn how much those companies helped push Sprint in this direction.
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:45:16 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax Yeah, The stats I heard suggest you need a lot of cellsite and basestation density to provide good coverage -- more than cellular according to some people -- so that suggests more investment. Hmmmmm.

-- DJ
joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:45:14 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax I suspect this might be part of the reason they played up multimode CDMA/WiMAX devices at the Q&A.

-- DJ
wap545 12/5/2012 | 3:45:14 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax Sprint owns 85% spectrum in major markets, but what about Clearwire and its efforts (since it is rich with cash)to deploy nationally as well in 2.5GHz.
My question(s) are, is this the right spectrum (2.5GHz) for true Broadband links to mobile and in door systems?? Physics says it will be limited in heavily canopied markets-which exist in many major markets. Will the 700MHz spectrum auction cause the 2.5GHz network problems??
Is 4 Mbps real, or is it really 1-2 Mbps to an indoor CPE or Mobile connection?? Is this adequate when compared a 6-10Mbps link from Wireless Mesh in major markets?

To many $$ by chip and handset manufacturers being layout to make sure their investment in this technology and spectrum pays off. If it was such a sure thing why would these big boys (Moto and Intel) be investing the Billions to kick start the networks??

freetoair 12/5/2012 | 3:45:13 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax Now don't get me wrong - I think this is all great stuff - if they really try to make it happen - but there are so many gaps in this 'swiss cheese' story at the moment - that it is just a vision at this point. IMHO

check the Forbes interview with Forsee (CEO):

"That is the headline that underpins our ability to consider a true mobile broadband network."
>> "consider" is an interesting choice of words
>> perhaps becuase there are so many dependencies?
>> and so many risks?
>> which leave obviously a lot of outs later
>> now it is a big splash, if it goes well, fantastic, if not, it will be becuase the vendors failed to deliver. meanwhile 1X moves on - no change there. as well it buys them leverage in other ways, etc.

Ok so he goes on:
"But we're committing to build a network that will take fixed applications and allow them to be portable. The economics of that are going to be very attractive to us and very competitive over time with fixed networks."
>> Committed is good...uh portable...uh
>> so is the 2-4Mbps rate in fixed, portable or mobile operation?
>> note Forsee does not use such figures, others do...
>> is this in the 'sweet spot' of cell while stationary? or a typical spot in cell while in slow mobility, etc.? well if you know wireless you get the point
>> perhaps 'portable' is mentioned as softening expectations. surely they must understand the impacts/limitations of battery life and heat dissipation on the portable/mobile device - right???

so in all there is a long way to go, and alot of questions, well thier timeline is YE07 for something initially - so there is a lot of runway.

But again all great stuff if they follow through and make a real go of it.

IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 3:45:04 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax On physics and data rates, Barry West, CTO, Sprint-Nextel, commented on the call:

GÇ£There are lies, damn lies, and mobile data speedsGÇ¥ GÇô so heGÇÖs aware of the challenges.

Lot of people said 3G would be a challenge at 2 GHz, but it works just fine.
lrmobile_rusty 12/5/2012 | 3:41:57 AM
re: Sprint Goes WiMax http://english.hani.co.kr/arti...

Gotta keep from trashing Sprint's WiMAX decision too much based on just one article, but if everything written here is true, then a lot of the fears cited by QCOM's belk and folks on this board may be coming true in Republic of Korea.
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